The Fascinating Story of one of Suffolk’s Largest Stately Homes

Statlely home in Suffolk

Last Updated on March 9, 2023

Situated in Long Melford – roughly forty five minutes drive from our Barns for rent in Suffolk – Kentwell Hall is a stately home open to the public throughout the year. With origins dating back to the Domesday Book of 1086, the home has appeared in various film and television productions over the years, and has a rich history that makes it well worth visiting during a holiday in the area.

Hard as it may be to believe, the earliest record of Kentwell Hall states that the manor belonged to the property of Frodo, the brother to Abbot Baldwin of St Edmund’s – back then, it was known as Kanewella, an Old English name. Whilst the Domesday Book describes in great detail how the manor was home to plenty of livestock, the next 300 years or so are patchy at best when it comes to its owners. Despite such scant detail, it appears that it was granted by King Henry III to Sir William de Valence who eventually passed it down to a number of poets and gentry following his death in battle in France back in 1296.  

Eventually ending up in the hands of the Clopton family in 1404, Kentwell Hall found itself with owners that would take care of it for over three hundred years. During this time, the family implemented a number of changes that would later come to define this fascinating manor house. From the hall itself to the moat, the property took on an impressive facade that continues to attract visitors today.

With the family fortune in decline, the tenure of the Cloptons came to an end in the 17th century, marked by the sale of Kentwell Hall to a lawyer in 1681. During his ownership, this lawyer would plant the mile-long avenue of lime trees that border the driveway, as well as an update to the interior which was crowned by the construction of an open-well staircase in the east wing. Seemingly blighted by a tragic curse, the lawyer lost his life jumping out of a window to escape a fire. His son, who inherited Kentwell Hall, passed away the following year. The third baronet would then sell the property to Sir John Moore to pay off growing gambling debts in 1685.  

From the 17th century through to the 19th, records of Kentwell Hall again become a little hazy, with the only confirmed facts being that typical Georgian features were added around the interior. Fast becoming a living record of English history thanks to all of its feature pieces, the hall passed over to Robert Hart Logan in 1823. Enjoying a mere three years without any major dramas, the Logan family suffered from a house fire in 1826 which inflicted major damage to many areas of the interior.

Transforming tragedy into beauty, Logan refactored the damaged interior to feature elements of Scottish Baronial, Gothic, and English Jacobean. These elements can still be observed when visiting today and the Jacobean arches are one of the principal highlights of the manor. Like many of its previous owners, Logan also fell into debt and eventually sold the property to the Starkie Bence family who let Kentwell Hall to a number of esteemed tenants which included the celebrated racing driver Dick Seaman. In terms of updates to Kentwell Hall, it was chiefly the gardens which experienced the biggest change.

Providing another interesting chapter to its story, the second world war saw Kentwell Hall become a military transit camp that was home to British airborne troops prior to D-Day. Later on in the century, the manor house was sold to Patrick and Judith Phillips who still use the house as their home following significant repairs and restorations.

Today, Kentwell Hall and its gardens are open to the public and hosts a number of events throughout the year that make it a fantastic stop to make when enjoying a holiday in Suffolk. To enjoy Kentwell Hall as part of your holiday, and to find out even more about this fascinating manor, be sure to take a look at the availability of our Barns and Barges for rent.