Suffolk’s prettiest homes: Grade I listed Otley Hall near Ipswich
PUBLISHED: 15:39 03 July 2019
© chris rawlings 2017
Sixteenth century Otley Hall comes with a wealth of local and international history within its walls
Approached from a quiet country lane just a few miles from the county town of Ipswich, Grade I listed Otley Hall remains an unspoilt gem - a property of considerable pedigree with historical and international significance.
Once home to one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, the impressive moated mansion has a rich and colourful past that dates from the 16th century. It could now be yours for £2.25 million.
The site of Otley Hall was settled from the 12th century, with the present home built mostly during the 1500s by the Gosnolds - a family of educated and well connected lawyers with links to Cardinal Wolsey, the Earl of Essex, the Earl of Southampton and Francis Bacon.
Colonel Robert Gosnold VI fought through three sieges in the English Civil War and was reputed to have seen Charles I leave Oxford in disguise one midnight.
Of particular note is its connection with privateer and adventurer Bartholomew Gosnold, who sailed from Ipswich in 1606 to establish Jamestown, the first English-speaking colony in America, 13 years before the Pilgrim Fathers set sail aboard the Mayflower.
Some believe William Shakespeare's The Tempest was based on Bartholomew's first voyage to the New World in 1602, during which he named both Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, but failed to establish a settlement. On his return to Otley Hall he began to plan another adventure and set sail in command of the Godspeed in 1606 along with two other vessels.
A year later he was a leading figure in the establishment of what is now known as Jamestown, Virginia - named in honour of James I who succeeded Queen Elizabeth I in 1603. Sadly, within three months of landing in what would become the USA Bartholomew died and Otley Hall was eventually sold by the Gosnolds in 1674.
By 1910 it had passed into the hands of Dorothy Sherston, who employed Edwardian architect Morley Horder to refurbish the hall and Francis Inigo Thomas, the famous landscape gardener, to design a formal garden.
In his best known work The Buildings of England (1951-74) - which spans an impressive 46 volumes - Sir Nikolaus Pevsner describes Otley Hall as "one of the most interesting houses of its date in Suffolk".
Today it remains a property of distinction, one of the few Grade I-listed homes in Suffolk which is in private ownership and generally accepted as one of the best examples open to the public.
The current owners have allowed wider access to Otley Hall for conferences, wedding celebrations and quiet retreats and there is a separate corporate hospitality centre within the 9.55 acre grounds.
Mark Oliver, from the residential team at Savills Ipswich, which is selling the property, said: "Otley Hall is a magical, historical house in a truly unique setting.
"Four of the rooms are as they were in the early 17th century, particularly the exceptional panelling in the Linenfold Parlour which is reputed to have come from Cardinal Wolsey's chambers at Hampton Court Palace.
"The Great Hall meanwhile - where Bartholomew is believed to have planned his famous Jamestown expedition - has fine oak panelling and moulded beams, while within Robert Gosnold I's bedroom there are Tudor nails from which silk tapestries were once suspended."
"The grounds offer a sense of the continuous nature and development of gardening spanning nearly eight centuries," Mark continues.
"There are peacocks, both Indian blue and white, along with a whole host of wildlife including ducks, moorhens, green woodpeckers, herons as well as rudd, carp and crayfish in the H-canal and many other fish in the moat.
"There are also two thatched summerhouses and a dovecote overlooking the croquet lawn to the north of the hall and a pavilion and barn to the south-west."
Otley Hall is available from Savills Ipswich with a guide price of £2.25 million. For more details contact 01473 234800.
Otley Hall comprises reception hall, Great Hall, Linenfold Parlour, moat room and study with Minstrel's Gallery, kitchen wing and domestic offices.
There are 10 bedrooms, six bathrooms, an integral staff flat with kitchen, sitting room, bedroom and shower room.
The exceptional gardens have croquet lawns, a herber, orchard, nuttery, rose garden, vine tunnel and woodland, plus outside swimming pool, tennis court and jacuzzi.