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5 Historic Homes You Must Visit

Find out what it was like to live as an Earl, explore ‘Downton Abbey’ style stately homes, and see where children’s author Beatrix Potter’s Suffolk getaway.

Ickworth House, Park and Gardens - National Trust

Ickworth exterior Justin Minns National Trust Images 965x540

Ickworth house with its classical Rotunda, East and West Wings, forms the centrepiece of the Ickworth estate. It reflects its former owners, the Hervey Family’s tenacious spirit and has been preserved by the custodianship and influence of unconventional men and women over successive generations.

Ickworth House far from being just a comfortable home, was designed to impress; grand yet functional, austere and splendid and designed to entertain on a grand scale for favoured guests. It was built as an 18th century palace to showcase the many treasures and art collected by the Earl Bishop who despite being a third son, eventually inherited the Estate in 1779. You can explore time and time again to uncover unique treasures, art and the stories of this extraordinary family and their staff.

Life as a servant was subject to the whims of the resident family and their guests; it was hard graft with incredibly long hours. There was a strict hierarchy amongst the servants and life could be incredibly tough. 'Ickworth Lives' tells the stories of the servants who lived and worked here in the 1930s.

For opening times visit National Trust Ickworth website.

Kentwell Hall, Long Melford

Kentwell Hall exterior summer Kentwell Hall 965x540

Kentwell Hall is still today a very much a lived-in and loved family home.The public can see much of the House, including rooms used by the family.

Kentwell is a stunning mellow redbrick house with two forward wings of the early 16th C, surrounded by a broad moat, built by the Clopton family with wealth from landowning.

Its main features are its impressive, little-altered exterior elevations and its separate 15th C part half-timbered service building. The interior shows the changes of successive owners most notably of about 1800, most pronounced of 1826 and by the Phillips family since 1972.

The Hall has been home to a succession of owners, with each having left something of their own mark. Let to a succession of tenants from 1888 to 1930, by 1970 it stood neglected and in need of much expenditure. It was bought by Patrick Phillips who, with his wife, Judith, embarked on a grand-scale restoration of the Hall and Gardens, while making it their family home. The owners give occasional fascinating and personal tours of the House.

For opening times and information on events at Kentwell Hall visit Kentwell Hall website.

Euston Hall

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Euston village is first recorded in the Domesday Book in 1087. The 15th Century manor house was subsequently purchased in 1666 by Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington, who was Secretary of State to the newly-restored King Charles II.

Arlington remodelled the manor house, creating a large grand house in the French style. The picturesque courtyard, now the main entrance to Euston Hall, contains Lord Arlington’s stable block and a service wing linking it with the Hall.

The 2nd Duke remodelled the Hall in 1750, using designs by Matthew Brettingham, who designed a number of grand houses, including Holkham Hall in Norfolk.

In 1902 a devastating fire destroyed the South and West wings of the Hall. Fortunately, the art collection and many of the treasures of the FitzRoy family were saved. Since 2012, the 12th Duke of Grafton has undertaken an extensive restoration of the Hall and grounds. The current Countess of Euston was appointed Lord Lieutenant for Suffolk in 2015 and is the first woman to hold this office in the County.

The jewel in the crown of Euston Estate are the Pleasure Grounds, which were laid out by King Charles II’s courtier and celebrated landscape designer, John Evelyn. He visited Euston in 1671 as part of the King’s entourage, and was subsequently commissioned by Arlington to design the landscape around the newly built Hall.

Tours of the house and grounds are available on open days. For opening times and tickets visit Euston Hall website

Melford Hall - National Trust

Melford Hall 3 National Trust Images Arnhel de Serra 965x540

Find out more about the children’s author Beatrix Potter who was a frequent visitor to Melford Hall, drawing inspiration for her work from the house and gardens.

Built in the 16th century, the stately home of Melford Hall is the ancestral seat of the Parker Baronets and is the much-loved home of the Hyde-Parker family.

Beatrix Potter (‘Cousin Beatie’) was a cousin of the family and the visitors’ book has many of her sketches in it, marking her visits to the hall.

The West Bedroom, which is where Beatrix stayed when she visited, is still furnished as it was during that time and also showcases memorabilia including some of her watercolours

For more information and opening times visit Melford Hall website.

Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich

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One of Suffolk’s most treasured buildings, this beautiful Tudor mansion is the jewel in the crown of Ipswich’s historic past, boasting over 500 years of history.

Explore the period rooms from the Tudor kitchen to the sumptuous Georgian saloon and the beautifully detailed Victorian wing.

Gaze at the fine collection of art from Suffolk artists including the biggest collection of Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable paintings outside of London.

Christchurch Mansion is built on the site of the Holy Trinity Priory, which was founded in the 12th Century. The walls and floors bear the scars of over 450 years of changing designs. The rooms are set in period fashions from the Tudors right through to the Victorians.

Discover more about the collections, the house and the families who have called it their home with our free, ‘Peep into the Past’ tours.

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