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Helmingham Hall

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

OS Map Grid Reference: TM186575
Latitude 52.17391° Longitude 1.19654°

Helmingham 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*.


VCH record of a 'moated enclosure with stronger defensive works (Class G)'. In Helmingham Park, 3 miles south by west from Debenham, the Tudor mansion of the Tollemache family is surrounded by a very wide square moat, crossed by two drawbridges. Along the exterior edge of the north-west side a strong vallum provided additional defence. The custom of raising the drawbridge is still observed. Parallel to the south-west side is another moat of oblong plan inclosing a large area of land. (VCH)

A large country mansion, built round a courtyard, for Lionel Tollemache (High Sheriff of Suffolk and Norfolk 1512 and 1530; ob. ante 1553). Three major phases of remodelling: c.1745-1760 for the 4th Earl Dysart; c.1800 by John Nash for the 6th Earl; and c.1841, probably by A. Salvin, for John (later 1st Lord) Tollemache. The north, south and east ranges retain substantial parts of the original timber-framed house of which small sections of close-studded and jettied framing are exposed. The exterior is almost entirely encased or rebuilt in C18 and C19 red brick, apart from the upper floor of the south range which is hung with C18 red mathematical tiles above a narrow jetty. Embattled parapets and crowstepped gables. Plaintiled roofs: a number of late C16 and early C17 axial chimneys of red brick with circular and octagonal shafts in groups of 2 or 4. Courtyard plan: a central late C16 gatehouse has a 4-window range at either flank, terminated by set-forward gables. To rear of the courtyard are parallel hall and kitchen ranges; on the east is a C16 range of lodgings; and to west a parlour wing rebuilt in 1841. Windows on the south elevation by Nash have Gothick hoodmoulds and small-pane casements, those at ground storey with transomes. The terminal gables of c.1600 have 2- storey splayed bays with plastered mullions and transomes and leaded glazing, a broad moulded plaster cornice at 1st and attic floors, and octagonal corner pilasters capped by finials of carved brick which are repeated at the gable apex. These gables form the model for the design of the west front of 1841, the entire motif being repeated, with the introduction of diaper patterning in burnt headers. The mid or late C16 front gatehouse is in narrow bricks with splayed buttresses and a round-arched gateway, which until c.1800 had an entablature with pediment. At that time the corbelled oriel and crowstepped gable were added. An original gateway of c.1530 behind: timber-framed, with a depressed 4-centred arched head with carved spandrels and buttress shafts; a pair of large oak doors with ribbed panels and fine tracery at the head may be a little earlier. The courtyard face, remodelled by Nash, has reinstated a carved timber cill from an oriel window of c.1530. The great hall remains open, with queen post trusses: the arch braces are filled with trefoils, and beneath the tie beams and wall pieces are pendant bosses. Although the details are probably by Nash, the roof may have a C16 core. Much fine interior remodelling in particular the Boudoir of c.1745-60. The house is surrounded by a broad C16 moat with possibly medieval origins; the revetments with low parapets are of C18 red brick. (Listed Building Report)

Associated with a deer park. Moats were out of fashion by the C16 so note the listed building description which suggests a medieval origin. However some builders do deliberately use archaic features and this moat has been re-revetted in brick in the C18, so difficult to date. In its current form it is certain a larger moat than usually seen.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

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