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Hengrave Hall

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Hemegrave

In the civil parish of Hengrave.
In the historic county of Suffolk.
Modern Authority of Suffolk.
1974 county of Suffolk.
Medieval County of Suffolk.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL82396856
Latitude 52.28494° Longitude 0.67244°

Hengrave Hall has been described as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are major building remains.

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.

Description

A large mansion built round a courtyard, incorporating the earlier de Hemegrave wing, 1525-1538, by John Eastawe, for Sir Thomas Kitson, merchant. Buff brick and limestone ashlar walls, clay plaintile roofs. Original symmetrical front altered 1775; central gateway with octagonal turrets flanked by 3 bay ranges terminated by similar turrets. Mullion and transome windows with hood moulds and arched heads to lights; leaded casements and fixed lights, with rectangular, diamond and stained glass; oriel window to chapel of 3 lights with 2-light flanking windows on west side; similar oriel on east side replaced in C18 by mullioned and transomed windows and octagonal buttresses. Four-centred arched gateway with receding orders and enriched spandrels; recessed doorway with original double panelled doors. Gateway flanked by ornamental stone pillars. Over the doorway is a richly decorated trefoiled oriel, late Perpendicular in design, with Rennaissance detailing, retaining much original colouring (compare Thornbury, Gloucs). Flanking the gateway, 2 octagonal turrets with Crocket-ornamented onion finials. At the east end C18 crenellated parapets, and at the west end coped gables. Ornate red brick chimneys have (except one stone pair) brick circular moulded shafts. Major alterations 1775 and again 1897-1900 when north wing built on site of demolished de Hemegrave wing. Splayed stone mullioned and transomed oriel to Great Hall with carved figure finials and stone roof with fan-vaulted soffit and traceried panelled rear arch; good heraldic glass. Hall has c.1900 oak hammerbeam roof, carved screen and gallery. Oriel in chapel has complete C16 painted glass on Biblical themes. Other C16 work includes: stone fireplaces and oak doorcases all with ogee-moulded chamfers, 4-centred heads and sunk spandrels; first-floor coved ceilings of trefoil form, with moulded cornice fixed to both lobes, the coupled-rafter roofs having purlins trenched over the collars. Large limestone fireplace c.1600 in Dining Room, in Rennaissance style with Ionic pilasters and pediment framing painted coat of arms. On the chimney breast further painting with strapwork and mermaids etc., supporting coat of arms. Alterations C.1900 include: strapwork plaster ceilings in 2 rooms, oak panelling, fireplaces, staircases, radiators in first floor corridors with brass cases pierced with fleur-de-lys and escutcheons, wallpaper by Morris & Co. in several rooms. 100 yards west a pair of wrought iron garden gates with flanking railings; 150 yards south-west a wrought iron field-gate with scrolly bracing, cast iron traceried piers with onion caps and fleur-de-lys finials. John Wilby, composer of madrigals, lived here 1592-1628. (Listed Building Report)

Sir Thomas Kytson built his manor house on a flat, close to the parish church; from which circumstance, among others, it may be conjectured to have occupied the site of the more ancient hall of the family of De Hemegraves. The approach was by a straight causeway, fenced on each side by a deep ditch, lined with a triple row of trees, and terminating at a large semi-circular foss, over which a stone bridge led, at some little distance, to the outer court. This court was formed by a central or outer lodge, the residence of the keepers and falconers, and by a range of low surrounding buildings used for offices, including a stable for the horses of pleasure. Beyond was a moat, inclosing the mansion, which is a quadrangular structure, of freestone and white brick, embattled, having an octagonal turret at each angle, with turrets larger and more ornamented that flank the gate-house or entrance to the inner court. By the removal, in the seventeenth century, of the outer court, and, in 1775, of a mass of building which projected at the east and north sides of the mansion, together with a high tower, the house has been reduced one-third, at least, from its original size. The moat has been filled up; there was a bridge over it at the inner gate, figured with devices in polished flint-work, and also a drawbridge communicating with the church. At some distance to the east and west were detached buildings, comprising the dovecote, the grange, the great barn, the mill, the forge, the great stable, and various offices, separate kennels for the hounds and spaniels, and the mews for the hawks. The mansion also had its great and little park, a vineyard or orchard, and gardens, a hop-ground and a hemp-ground, and was well provided with fish ponds; a bowling-alley occupied the space between the north side of the house and the moat, having the convenience of an open corridor communicating with the hall; and a pair of butts was placed on an artificial mound still visible in the upper part of the park. That the grounds were laid out in the true Dutch style, may be concluded from items in the household expenses for the year 1575. The waterworks were finished in 1583, as appears by an entry of account in that year. (Gage 1838)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1540 March 25 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

Comments

Hengrave was purchased from the duke of Buckingham shortly before his arrest by Thomas Kytson, a wealthy London merchant eager to create a country seat, and in 1525 he received a licence to fortify this new building with battlement and turrets. (Goodall p. 416) The Source for this was Gage, 1822 where a warrant for the licence is fully transcribed but no date given but in Gage, 1838 a enrollment of the licence is given and the licence was actually part of a grant of lands made in 1540 somewhat after the house was finished.
This major house was, with the moat in its original form, as fortified as many houses which did have licences although it is not usually described as fortified. The earlier manor house may well also have been of sufficient defensibility to be considered fortified.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated before 1 February 2016

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