Thursday, June 09, 2016

Melford Hall, Long Melford, Suffolk

View from the drive.
View from the front.
I try and visit a couple of stately homes every year. The first of 2016 was Melford Hall. The Hall was built on top of the original building which  belonged to the Abbots of St Edmundsbury. With the dissolution the abbot was forced to surrender the Abbey and all its possessions to Henry VIII in 1539.
The Great Hall
William Cordell, was a wealthy Long Melford man who made his fortune in the law and became Solicitor General in 1553. Queen Mary knighted him, as he was a Catholic, and chose him to be Speaker in her parliament. Even under Queen Elizabeth he remained a respected figure.
The bed that Beatrix Potter slept in.
 Cordell had no children so that the house passed to his sister Jane. Thomas Savage, the great-nephew of Sir William Cordell, inherited the house from his grandmother in 1602. Sir Thomas had nineteen children and extended the house – possibly to accommodate his enormous family.
During the puritan rule Countess Rivers, the owner,  sold the estate to a descendant of Sir William Cordell's grandfather. These new owners repaired and renovated the house and restocked the park.
Banquet Hall built in 1613
Sir Cordell Firebrace replaced the Tudor windows with Georgian sash windows, pulled down the old east wing and created a set of rococo style reception rooms in the north wing.

 I was surprised how small the banquet hall was, but a helpful volunteer explained that the meaning of the word has now changed. Banquet was derived from the word banquette which meant a small bench. This hall was set aside for dessert which was served to only a selected few of those that had been invited to dine. It was a place for conspiracy and secret conversations, which was why it was set aside from the main house.
Another fascinating thing I learned was that Beatrix Potter was a cousin to Lady Hyde Parker and visited Melford Hall frequently. The actual toy duck that Beatrix dressed and used for inspiration to write "The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck" is on view at Melford Hall.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to this delightful stately home. The fact that the current owners live in the north wing makes the place more welcoming.
Kentwell Hall
Kentwell Hall is no more than half a mile away. They were built around the same time and it would be perfectly possible to visit both on the same day.
£1.99 / $2.99

Fenella J Miller


Elizabeth Hawksley said...

What a wonderful place, Fenella. I liked the photo from the front with the ha-ha. I've always liked ha-has. If they're well-constructed you hardly notice that they're there until you are really close. We had one in the grounds of the house I grew up in and, one day, my head was in the clouds as usual, and I fell down it and landed in a bed of nettles.

And Kentwell Hall is a fun place to visit, too.

Fenella J Miller said...

Elizabeth, I was told it was called a 'ha-ha' because of exactly your experience -but not sure this is correct.

Elizabeth Hawksley said...

I looked 'ha-ha' up in the O.E D. Apparently, it comes from 'Ha! ha!' - an exclamation of surprise on meeting an obstacle. I'm not sure how far I believe this; it sounds rather a forced explanation to me. Personally, I've never heard anyone actually say 'Ha! ha!' in such a situation.