November 14, 2014

Bradgate Park and House.

Bradgate Park is a historic Medieval deer park in the heart of the ancient Charnwood Forest, just northwest of Leicester. It is Leicestershire's largest, most visited country park. It retains much of its original landscape with small woods, grassy slopes and rocky outcrops. The River Lin runs through the park, flowing into Cropston Reservoir which was constructed on part of the park in 1871. To the north-east lies Swithland Wood. It opened to the public in the 19th century. The park still has herds of red and fallow deer.

In the reign of Edward the Confessor, the area was owned by Ulf. The first mention of Bradgate Park is from 1241, when it was laid out as a hunting park. A parker, living in a moated house, was the only occupant until the late 1400s, maintaining stocks of deer for the lord of Groby Manor to hunt. The park was then greatly extended by the first marquis. In 1445 it passed from the de Ferrers family to the Greys, who retained it for the next 500 years. 
In 1928 Bradgate Park was bought by a local businessman, Charles Bennion, and given, as a plaque in the park describes, 'to be preserved in its natural state for the quiet enjoyment of the people of Leicestershire'. Bradgate Park and Swithland Wood were merged in 1931. Precambrian fossils have been found at Bradgate; the only known fossils of this kind in Western Europe. Because of the risk of vandalism and damage, specific locations of these are not disclosed and no rocks in the Park can be chipped, hammered or removed. 

An important part of the history of Bradgate Park are the ruins of Bradgate House, the possible birthplace of and home to King Henry VIII's great niece; Lady Jane Grey, who was Queen for nine days before being beheaded at the age of 16 in 1554. She was the first daughter of Sir Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and Lady Frances Brandon, daughter of Henry VIII's sister Mary and Charles Brandon. 


Edward Grey's son, Sir John Grey of Groby, married Elizabeth Woodville, who after John's death married King Edward IV. Their son Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset, prepared for building Bradgate House in the late fifteenth century but died before he was able to begin, and his son Thomas, the 2nd marquis, built the house and probably completed it in 1520. Further additions were made in the 1540s and in the 1600s. The red brickwork is reminiscent of Hampton Court Palace and other great houses of the period.

This magnificent building once consisted of two main storeys and was about 200 feet in length from east to west, with two wings joined by a Great Hall. The great kitchen, bakery and servants' quarters occupied the west wing, and the east wing contained the family apartments and the Chapel. The first wife of the 2nd Earl of Stamford set fire to the north west Tower and the house suffered damage, but it was repaired in time for King William III's visit in 1696. 

Lady Jane received an excellent humanist education and was one of the most learned young women of the 16th century. She also became a committed Protestant. When her family left Bradgate House for hunting parties, she stayed behind to study and read books. When the scholar Roger Ascham came to visit Bradgate, he found her at home reading Plato, and complaining about her parents' harsh treatment of her. 

Lady Jane Grey, the "Nine Days' Queen".
Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon, Jane's grandparents. 


Jane's mother, Lady Frances. According to
most historians, she was a stern and very strict,
sometimes violent mother.
 
A painting depicting the execution of Jane.



Jane Grey and her not so beloved husband were buried in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula at the Tower. 
After the death of the Earl in 1719 it was left empty and, sadly, it slowly fell into decay. The ruins are preserved by the Bradgate Park Trust, but the outline of the house can still clearly be seen; towers, cellars, drainage channels, the kitchen fireplace, bread ovens. The Chapel still remains entire, containing an alabaster tomb, a memorial to Lady Jane's cousin Sir Henry Grey (created Baron by James I in 1603) and his wife Anne Windsor. 


Another prominant landmark is the 'Old John' Tower, a folly built by the Greys on a hilltop in the 1780s. It is, by local legend, a memorial to an estate worker named John who was killed in a bonfire accident. However, according to old maps the hill was already known as "Old John". During the 19th century it was used as a viewing point for horse-racing. 

November 13, 2014

Castles in Suffolk, England

Glemham Hall is an Elizabethan stately home, set in 300 acres  of park land on the outskirts of the village of Little Glemham. 

Glemham Hall was built around 1560 by the De Glemham family, which prospered under the Tudors. It was purchased by Francis North, 2nd Baron Guilford of the North family in 1709, whose uncle Dudley North had purchased the lordship of the manor of Little Glemham. His wife was no other than daughter of the founder of a famous American University; Elihu Yale. Between 1712 and 1720 major structural changes were made to the facade, giving it the overall Georgian appearance we can see today.
The Hall was purchased by the Cobbold family in 1923 in whose hands it has remained ever since. The current owner is Philip Hope-Cobbold, who was born at Glemham Hall in 1943.

 
Glemham Hall can be rented for weddings. 
Today the Hall is used mostly for corporate and social occasions and is not open to the general public, although the gardens are open on selected days throughout the summer. The Suffolk Game and Country Fair takes place annually on its grounds.

Kentwell Hall is a moated stately home in Long Melford. Most of the current facade dates from the mid-16th century, but the origins of Kentwell are much earlier, with references in the Domesday Book of 1086 (which state that the manor of Kentwell belonged to a man named Frodo, a brother of the Abbot of the Abbey of St. Edmund's).
The oldest structure is the Moat House, which is estimated to have been built in the early 15th century. 

Between the years 1252 and 1272, Kentwell Manor appears to have been granted by King Henry III to Sir William de Valence, who was killed in battle in France in 1296, and after this death the manor kept being passed to the ownership of various descendants and families. 
The Cloptons, owners from ca. 1375 onwards, were a respected local family with some family members becoming distinguished nationally in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Clopton family transformed the manor into its current recognisable form. Successive members of the family remained at Kentwell until 1661, when the last resident Clopton died there. In 1676 the Manor of Kentwell was sold. The new owner was responsible for planting the mile-long avenue of lime trees that borders the driveway to the house and which still exists today. 


In 1826, a fire broke out which destroyed much of the central interior, including the dining room and rooms on the garden side of the house. Major structural changes to the interior were commissioned. The owner engaged a noted Victorian architect to design the changes; a style that embodied elements of English Jacobean, Scottish Baronial and Gothic, which can still be seen today. In the Great Hall, the original screen and gallery were replaced and the ceiling was reconstructed. The design of the ceiling features hammer beams and wall posts that are coloured to resemble oak but are in fact entirely constructed of plaster. The ceiling heights of the Library and the Billiard Room were raised by two feet. 


When the owner died, in debt, in 1839, Kentwell was sold to the Starkie Bence family who continued to occupy or let the house for over a century. During World War II the house and park were requisitioned by the military, who used it as a large transit camp. Since 1971 the manor house is owned by the Phillips who use it as their home. Repairs and restorations have been funded by opening the house to the public.


Kentwell has been the background location for many film and television productions and since 1979 it has annually been the scene of Tudor period historical re-enactments. Each year is themed around a specific year in the Tudor period (the Spanish Armada, Lady Jane Grey, the Dissolution fo the Monasteries etc.), with costumes and events designed accordingly. Kentwell Hall has also presented Dickensian Christmas and Halloween themed events and can host wedding ceremonies, open air theatre and music concerts. 

Hengrave Hall is a Tudor manor house near Bury St. Edmunds and was the seat of the Roman Catholic recusant families, Kitson and Gage, 1525-1887. 

Thomas Kitson, a London merchant and member of the Mercers Company, began to work on the house in 1525. He completed it in 1538 but died two years later, leaving all of his property to his wife Margaret. The house is one of the last examples of a house built around an enclosed courtyard with a great hall. It was constructed from stone taken from Ixworth Priory (dissolved in 1536). The house is notable for an ornate oriel window incorporating the royal arms of Henry VIII and the Kitson arms. The house is embattled, and the chapel contains 21 lights of Flemish glass commissioned by Kitson and installed in 1538, depicting salvation history from the creation of the world to the Last Judgement. This is the only collection of pre-reformation glass that has remained in situ in a domestic chapel anywhere in England. In the Banquet Hall of the house is a window with the coat of arms of George Washington, quartered with that of Lawrence; one of Sir Thomas Kitson's daughters married into the Washington family.



Queen Mary I may have stopped briefly at Hengrave on her way to Framlingham Castle in 1553, as her father Henry VIII was godfather to Sir Thomas Kitson's widow Margaret's son, Henry Long, from her 2nd marriage to one of his Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber. Elizabeth I stayed at the Hall from 27-30 August 1578 and a chamber is named in her honour. King James II visited Hengrave throughout the 1670s and attended the wedding of William Gage and Charlotte Bond in 1670.



The house was altered by the Gage family in 1775. The outer court and the east wing were demolished and the moat was filled in. Sir John Wood who bought Hengrave Hall in 1895 attempted to restore the interior of the house to its original Tudor appearance in 1899 and rebuilt the east wing and re-panelled most of the house in oak. One room, the Oriel Chamber, retains its original seventeenth century paneling. After his death the Religious of the Assumption ran a convent school there until 1974. They founded the Hengrave Community of Reconciliation, hich was dissolved in 2005, closing its Christian and conference centre at the site, after failing to fund £250,000 for improvements. The current owner, David Harris, wants to convert the existing building into private housing. It is currently used for wedding receptions and other functions. 

Melford Hall in the village of Long Melford is the ancestral seat and stately home of the Parker Baronets. 

The hall was mostly constructed in the 16th century, incorporating parts of a medieval building held by the abbots of Bury St. Edmunds which had been in use since before 1065. It passed from the abbots during the Dissolution of the Monasteries and was later granted by Queen Mary to Sir William Cordell. 
During the Civil War the house was extensively plundered, but in 1649 Melford was purchased by Robert Cordell, MP for Sudbury and Sheriff of the county, who set about repairing and refurbishing the house.


The Gatehouse
In 1786 it was sold to Sir Harry Parker, 6th Baronet, and their line remains unbroken to this day with Sir Richard Hyde Parker, 12th Baronet and his wife Jeanie continuing to live at Melford Hall with their family. The Hyde Parkers has been one of Britain's most distinguished naval families. Beatrix Potter was a cousin of the family and was a frequent visitor to the hall from the 1890s onwards.


One wing of the hall was gutted by fire in February 1942, but rebuilt after World War II, retaining the external Tudor brickwork with 1950s interior design.


The hall was first opened to the public in 1955 by William Hyde Parker's widow, the Danish Lady Ulla Hyde Parker. In 1960 it passed into the care of the National Trust but Lady Ulla remained as their administrator and still resided in the North Wing. It is generally open on afternoons from April to October. 


Over 40 historic country houses were lost in Suffolk during the 20th century! If they survived the Civil War, some owners have simply not cared about their preservation, with houses becoming surplus to requirements. Some have gambled their money away and sold their houses off bit by bit for scrap. There were those that were demolished by fire or became damaged during the war. With a devastating fire and the struggles of the 1950s, it is remarkable that Melford Hall survived as a building. 

November 12, 2014

Castles in the East of England

Kimbolton Castle in Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire, is best known as the final home of King Henry VIII's first queen, Catherine of Aragon. Originally a medieval castle but converted into a stately palace, it was the family seat of the Dukes of Manchester from 1615 until 1950. It now houses Kimbolton School.

In Norman times, a wooden motte and bailey castle was built in Kimbolton, on a different site, but all that remains is a low mound, surrounded by a ditch and covered with trees. A market place was created, with a church at one end and a new castle at the other. This castle went through various phases of ownership. By the 1520s it belonged to the Wingfield family and was rebuilt as a Tudor manor house, parts of which survive, behind a glass panel in the wall of the Red Room and especially in the corridor near the Chapel. In April 1534 Catherine of Aragon was sent here for refusing to deny the validity of her marriage. She spent the rest of her years as a semi-prisoner in her rooms in the south west corner of the castle, attended by a few loyal servants. The fenland climate damaged her health, and she died, probably of cancer, at Kimbolton in January 1536. She was buried in the Peterborough Abbey, now Cathedral. Naturally, she is reputed to haunt the castle. 


Sir John Popham, best remembered as Lord Chief Justice and judge at the trial of Guy Fawkes, lived at Kimbolton around 1600. Local legend claims that he threw his baby daughter to hear death from a window overloooking the courtyard. 
Descendants of Sir Henry Montagu, 1st Earl of Manchester, owned the castle for 335 years until it was sold in 1950 to Kimbolton School. The 4th Earl, who was created 1st Duke of Manchester in 1719, carried out many works of reconstruction. The Castle in its present form dates almost entirely from 1690 to 1720.


During World War II the castle was used by the Royal Army Medical Corps. 
The Warren House is a fine Grade II folly which stands on an escarpment overlooking Kimbolton Castle. This building was indeed built upon a warren and began life in the late 16th Century as a humble timber-framed cottage, perhaps for a warrener or gamekeeper, or as a hunting lodge. The Landmark Trust restored it to its former glory, and it is now available to let as a two-person holiday home. 

The State Rooms have been restored and redecorated, and other parts of Kimbolton have been adapted to meet the changing needs of the School community. I think Catherine of Aragon would be pleased to know that the castle where she was basically imprisoned, is now an independent day and boarding school for children between the ages of 4 and 18. 

Pupils wearing the obligatory uniform. There is a uniform list with strict regulations on appearance. No punk or glam rock fans allowed at this school...! 
If you wish to have your children enter the school, you can expect to pay up to £14,000 a year for senior school, and a lot more for full or weekly boarding. 

Berkhamsted Castle is a Norman motte-and-bailey castle Hertfordshire. The castle was built during the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century to control a key route between London and the Midlands. Robert of Mortain, William the Conqueror's half brother, may have been responsible for the construction and became the subsequent owner of the fortification. The castle was surrounded by extensive protective earthworks and a deer park for hunting. The former Anglo-Saxon settlement of Berkhampsted reorganised around it, as it formed the new administrative centre. Subsequent kings granted the castle to their chancellors and it was substantially extended in the mid-12th century, probably by Thomas Becket. Henry II liked Berkhamsted and used it extensively himself; he was the one who officially recognised the surrounding settlement of Berkhamsted as a town in 1156. 

The castle had a 40 foot (12m) high motte, and a bailey around 500 foot (150m) by 300 foot (91m). A double bank and ditch ran around the whole castle, with both sets of ditches filled with water. 

Richard, the Earl of Cornwall, redeveloped the castle as a palatial residence and later, Edward III further developed the castle in the 14th century and gave it to his son, Edward, the Black Prince, who extended the hunting grounds. It was used to hold royal prisoners, including John II of France and rival claimants to the English throne. Both Henry V and Henry VI owned the castle, the latter making use of it until his overthrow in 1461. Cecily Nevill, the Duchess of York and mother of Edward IV and Richard III, occupied Berkhamsted Castle until her death in 1495 when it was considered unfashionable and as a result, it was left to fall into decline. In 1580, the estate, including the ruins and the park, was leased from Elizabeth I by Sir Edward Carey, for the nominal rent of one red rose each year. 


By the middle of the 16th century it was described as being in ruins and was unsuitable for royal use. Stone was taken from the castle to build neighbouring houses and parts of the town. The castle narrowly escaped destruction during the construction of the London and Birmingham Railway in the 1830s, becoming the first building in Britain to receive statutory protection from Parliament. In 1930 it passed from the Duchy of Cornwall to the control of the state, and in the 21st century is run as a tourist attraction by English Heritage.


Blickling Hall is a stately home, part of the Blickling estate. It is located in the village of Blickling north of Aylsham in Norfolk, and has been in the care of the National Trust since 1940. 

Blickling was in the possession of Sir John Fastolf of Caister in Norfolk in the 15th century, who made a fortune in the Hundred Years' War, and whose coat of arms is still on display there. Later, the property was in the possession of the Boleyn family, and home to Thomas Boleyn, later Earl of Wiltshire, and his wife Elizabeth between 1499 and 1505. Although the exact birth dates of their children are unknown, historians are confident that all three surviving children were likely born at Blickling; Mary in about 1500, Anne in about 1501, and George in about 1504. A statue and portrait of Anne may be found at Blickling Estate which carry the inscription, "Anna Bolena hic nata 1507" (Anne Boleyn born here 1507), based on earlier scholarship which assigned Anne a, now thought highly improbable, year of birth of 1507.

The house of Blickling seen today was built on the ruins of the old Boleyn property in the reign of James I, by Sir Henry Hobart, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas and 1st Baronet, who bought Blickling in 1616. The architectural style resembles that of Hatfield House.



During World War II the house was requisitioned and served as the Officers' Mess of nearby RAF Oulton. The house and its estate passed to The National Trust, under the terms of the Country Houses Scheme. The National Trust let Blickling to tenants until 1960, when the Trust began the work to restore the house to a style reflecting its history. The house and grounds were opened to the public in 1962 and remain open under the name of "Blickling Estate".

The library at Blickling Estate contains one of the most historically significant collections of manuscripts and books in England.



It is said that every year, on the anniversary of her execution, Anne Boleyn's headless ghost arrives at Blickling in a carriage driven by an equally headless coachman. She carries her head along with her during her hauntings. It was voted the most haunted house in Britain in a National Trust survey in October 2007.



The estate covers 4,777 acres (1,933 ha) of woodland, parkland and farmland. A house and garden existed at Blickling before it was purchased by the Boleyn family in the 1450s, but no records survive to give an indication of their appearance. The gardens were remodelled and expanded in the 17th century, and again later. They still contain their 18th century yew hedges and Victorian ornaments. 

Heydon Hall is an Elizabethan house just north-east of the village of Heydon, Norfolk. The Hall is Grade I listed by English Heritage.


The property was sold by the Haydens (a Sir Henry Hayden, who died in 1503, was married to an aunt of Anne Boleyn) to the Dynnes in 1567 and the hall was built for Henry Dynne, an Auditor of the Exchequer, between 1581-4. From the time of Oliver Cromwell it was first owned by the Earle family being originally bought by Erasmus Earle in 1640. A daughter of Augustine Earle married William Bulwer and it then came into the Bulwer family of Wood Dalling. The original large park was about 600 acres (240 ha) but has mostly been broken up. The house has been extended at various times but now returned to its 16th centiry form. It was largely derelict in 1972. There is not much information about the history or the interior, but according to sources, it is still occupied by the Bulwer family. The two story "Old Laundry" behind the manor has been turned into a charming B&B.

Oxburgh Hall is a moated country house in Norfolk, today in the hands of the National Trust. Built around 1482 by Sir Edmund Bedingfeld (who got permission from Edward IV), Oxburgh has always been a family home, and not a fortress. The manor of Oxborough came to the Bedingfeld family by marriage before 1446, and the house has been continuously inhabited by them. The chapel was built in the 1830s. 



The late medieval Oxburgh Hall stands within a square moat about 75 metres on each side, and was originally enclosed. The hall range facing the gatehouse was pulled down in 1772 for Sir Richard Bedingfeld, providing an open U-shaped house. The entrance is reached by a three-arched bridge on the north side. 



The hall is well known for its priest hole, created in 1589. The room is reached via a trapdoor, which when closed blends in with the tiled floor. Due to the Catholic faith of the Bedingfeld family, a Catholic priest may have had to hide within the small disguised room in the event of a raid. It is open to visitors. The hall is also notable for its needlework hangings by Mary, Queen of Scots. While in the custody of the Earl of Shrewsbury, following her escape to England, she worked on these. 

Oxburgh Hall is a popular location for film and television series.

This is the King's Room, where Henry VII slept in 1487 when he and his wife Elizabeth of York paid a visit to Oxburgh Hall.

In 1950, the 9th Baronet, Sir Edmund, was forced to sell Oxburgh Hall at a time when many country houses were falling into disrepair. The house and estate were sold at auction to a property developer, who wanted to demolish the house and build 70 houses on the land. Contents of the house such as books and furniture were sold. Fortunately, the house was saved thanks to three determined female family members, who sold their own homes to raise enough money to buy back the house. In 1952 they gave it to the National Trust.


Cockfield Hall in Yoxford, Suffolk is a private house, dating from the 16th century, standing in 40 acres of historic parkland. It was built by the Spring family, wealthy cloth merchants and later baronets of Pakenham.

Cockfield Hall takes its name from the Cokefeud Family, established there at the beginning of the 14th century. It then passed to the Hopton Family, one of whom, Sir Arthur Hopton built the gatehouses and north wing in the mid-16th century. He was said to have accompanied Henry VIII on the Field of the Cloth of Gold. His successor, Sir Owen, was Lieutenant of the Tower of London. As such he was ordered in October 1567 by Queen Elizabeth to take Lady Catherine Grey, sister of Lady Jane Grey and granddaughter of Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon, into custody at Cockfield so that she could recover from her privations. She died there a year later, and was buried in the Cockfield Chapel in Yoxford Church. 


The Estate passed by marriage to the Blois family's ownership in the 17th century and it has remained in their family until 1997. 

The main part of the house had sash windows installed in the 18th century and in 1896 the Victorian Great Hall was created on the site of the original Tudor Hall in the Jacobean style. Suffolk was a county particularly associated with the reintroduction in the Middle Ages of brickmaking techniques, and Cockfield Hall demonstrated that it didn’t have to be humble. Brick wasn't cheap and tens of thousands were needed to build the mansion. The house and its 74-acre estate was recently for sale for offers of over £5 million. 


Lady Catherine Grey was only fourteen years old when her sister Jane was executed for treason. Her first marriage was annulled when their family fell from grace. Catherine served as a maid of honour to Queen Mary and made a friend, Lady Jane Seymour, daughter of the late Lord Protector Edward Seymour, at court. She often accompanied Jane on her visits home to Hanworth, where she met Jane's brother Edward, who was a very handsome young man. The teenagers fell in love and eventually married in London in secret, with the help of his sister when Elizabeth, now Queen of England, gone to Eltham. They did not tell anyone of their marriage and continued their secret meetings at Westminster and Greenwich. But the young couple had to pay for their indiscretions when Catherine became pregnant and had to let the Queen know. Elizabeth was furious. Not only had Catherine married without permission, as heir presumptive, but she had wed a Seymour. The Seymours were notorious for their political ambitions. They were both imprisoned at the Tower of London, where Catherine gave birth to a son, Edward, in 1561. 

The Lieutenant of the Tower was a kind and sympathetic man, and allowed the couple to spend time together after the birth of their son. Catherine was also permitted to keep her pets, dogs and monkeys in her rooms. To the Queen's horror and further enragement, Catherine became pregnant again, and in February 1563 she gave birth to a second boy, Thomas. By then their marriage had been annulled and their children were rendered illegitimate.

Edward was fined 15000 pds, later reduced to 3000, and charged with deflowering a royal virgin in the Queen's household, flouting his imprisonment by meeting with her in the Tower, and engaging in more carnal relations. He and little Edward were subsequently sent to Hanworth to his mother under house arrest, and Catherine and Thomas went to her uncle, Sir John Grey, at his home at Pirgo in Essex, arriving in September 1563.  She suffered from depression; she was, according to her uncle, 'a penitent and sorrowful woman for the Queen's displeasure'. She wept often, but her agony left Elizabeth unmoved. When Catherine's uncle asked for financial assistance in order to keep the prisoner for the crown, Elizabeth ordered Edward to pay. 

The Greys angered the Queen once again, when Catherine's younger sister Mary married the Queen's serjeant porter in secret. They were both imprisoned and Mary never saw him again. She died in April 1578, aged 33. She was buried in Westminster Abbey but her grave is still unmarked. 

After Sir John's death Catherine was probably moved to Ingatestone Hall and then Gosfield Hall, before finally being confined to Cockfield Hall, under the custody of Sir Owen Hopton. She was gravely ill with tuberculosis. Before her death in January 1568 she asked Elizabeth to be good to her sons, to not blame them for their parents' crime. She sent her wedding ring back to Edward, along with a few gifts she possessed; among them a ring engraved with a death's head and a motto, 'While I live, yours'. She had spent nearly seven years in various prisons and died at the age of 27. Edward was heartbroken, but still hoped for release. Two years later he was released and pardoned, and eventually remarried (twice). He had no other children, but managed to have his first marriage and sons legitimised in 1606.

In 1621, following Edward's death, their grandson had Catherine's body moved from Yoxford Church to Salisbury Cathedral and buried with her husband's. 


Elveden Hall is a large privately owned "house" overlooking the large Elveden Estate in  Suffolk. 

The date of the original house's construction is unknown, but the estate is known to have been anciently appropriated by Bury St Edmunds Abbey. After the dissolution of the monasteries it was given by Henry VIII to the Duke of Norfolk. It subsequently passed through the ownerships of the Crisp and Tyrell families. The Georgian house at the core of the present house was built in the 18th century. 


The original Georgian house. 
After some major rebuilding. 

In 1849, the Maharajah Duleep Singh, ruler of the Sikh Empire and owner of the famous Koh-i-noor diamond was exiled to England, having been removed from his kingdom by the British East India Company. He purchased the 17,000 acre estate in 1863 and set about rebuilding the country house and dressing it in an Italian style. However, he redesigned the interior to resemble the Mughal palaces that he had been accustomed to in his childhood. He also augmented the building with an aviary for exotic birds. After a downturn in the Maharajah's personal fortunes and political tensions in government, he left England in 1886. His executors sold Elveden Hall to the 1st Earl of Iveagh in 1894. He added the dome to the roof, which in my opinion is another hideous addition. 

During World War II the hall was used as headquarters for the USAAF, and the staff quarters were struck and destroyed by a bomb. In the 1980s the contents of the house were sold. It now stands empty, aside from its use as an occasional film location (films include Eyes Wide Shut, 1999, and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, 2001). 


Framlingham Castle is a castle in the market town of Framlingham in Suffolk. An early motte and bailey Norman castle stood on the site in 1148, but this was destroyed by Henry II of England in the aftermath of the revolt of 1173-4. Its replacement was constructed by Roger Bigod, the Earl of Norfolk, and it was unusual for the time in having no central keep, but instead a curtain wall with thirteen mural towers to defend the centre of the castle, along with a castle-guard system.

Framlingham became a luxurious home in the 13th century, surrounded by extensive parkland used for hunting. Later it was also used as a large prison. Prisoners kept there in the medieval period were local poachers and religious dissidents. On Roger's death in 1306 it passed to the Crown. 


Two large lakes, called meres, were formed alongside the castle by damming a local stream. The southern mere is still visible today, but the lakes used to be much larger. Today's mere has its origins in a smaller, natural lake, and covered 23 acres and even had an island with a dovecote built on it. The meres were used for fishing and boating.


The castle passed to John Howard, the Duke of Norfolk, in 1476. He probably began the sequence of improvements to the castle during the Tudor period. During the 15th and 16th centuries the village of Framlingham was at the heart of the estates of the powerful Mowbray and Howard families. The castle, with as many as 83 people residing there, played a major role in the surrounding economy. They purchased supplies from across England, such as venison and spices from the Far East through London based merchants, and brought in luxury goods from international markets, including French wine, to support the household. Nearly 130,000 L of ale and 70,321 loaves of bread were purchased during twelve months in 1385-6. 


Under the Howards the castle was extensively modernised. They used fashionable brick to improve parts of the castle and added ornamental chimneys. By 1524 there were at least 29 different rooms in the castle. The drawbridge outside the gatehouse was replaced with the current permanent bridge between 1524–47. At one point, a hundred suits of armour were stored at Framlingham Castle and over thirty horses were kept in the stables. Extensive pleasure gardens were also built within the castle.

The 3rd Duke of Norfolk, Thomas, was due to be executed at the Tower in 1547 for supporting the claim of Mary to the throne, but Henry VIII died the day before the sentence was carried out. Thomas was kept in the Tower and Framlingham was given to Mary. When she seized power she collected her forces there before successfuly marching on London. The 4th Duke was indeed executed for treason by Elizabeth I and in 1572 the castle passed back to the Crown. The castle fell into disrepair, the Great Park turned into fields and the castle became used as a prison, again, from 1580 onwards, as religious laws against Catholics increased. After the final Howard owner, Theophilus, entered into financial difficulties the castle and the surrounding estates were sold off in 1635 for £14,000. 


During the outbreak of plague in 1666, the castle was used as an isolation ward for infected patients, and during the Napoleonic Wars the castle was used to hold the equipment. The internal buildings had been taken down to make way for the construction of a poorhouse within the site. A similar facility closed in 1839 and the castle was then used as a county court and as a drill hall. In 1913, the current owner, Pembroke College, donated Framlingham to the Commissioner of Works. During the second World War, Framlingham Castle was used by the British military as part of the regional defences against a potential German invasion. 


The current buildings within the walls of Framlingham Castle.
Today, Framlingham Castle is a scheduled monument, owned by English Heritage and run as a tourist attraction.