I visited Kentwell Hall recently and it was more than forty years since I'd been – but the place hasn't changed at all. It isn't slick and touristy like some stately homes, but accessible and intimate. We were able to wander about peeping into cupboards and touching things in a way that couldn't possibly happen anywhere else. In the moat house you could go upstairs into an Elizabethan bedroom – everything was there, down to the combs and other items one might find on the dressing table. There was also the brewery in which there were ancient barrels and kegs.
However, the kitchen and dining rooms were the most exciting. The kitchen had a fireplace you could roast a whole ox in and everywhere were pots and pans, kitchen implements and other things of interest. What was fascinating was that at one end there was a stone bench under which were two arches in which fires could be lit. On the top were iron grills – just like a modern cooker. I'm not sure what era these were as the house is obviously been in continuous use since it was built in the sixteenth century. They hold events here and they had cupboards full of pewter plates and goblets.
The bedrooms are furnished in various styles and there was a Georgian one complete with harpsichord as well as an Edwardian one in the Oriental style.The gardens are still laid out as they were when the house was built although there is now a storybook trail for the children which was great fun. The big carp pool is still there and when we stood at one end a row of mini tidal waves approached as the fish were expecting to be fed.
We also went into the ice house – I've never actually been inside one before and it was an experience I'm not eager to repeat. Astonishing to think that ice could be stored in there throughout the summer so frozen desserts could be served at banquets.
I would highly recommend that you go and visit Kentwell Hall if you're ever in the vicinity of Long Melford.
Fenella's latest release is not one of her usual Regencies, but a second world war saga. The box-set trilogy is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US