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An A to Z of why you should visit Suffolk and East Anglia's stately homes

PUBLISHED: 13:56 29 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:31 29 January 2019

Back of Butley Priory (c) Fimb, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Back of Butley Priory (c) Fimb, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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Make a 2019 resolution to tour some of the county’s private historic houses, gardens and utterly unusual places | Words & Photos: Lindsay Want

Suffolk’s private stately homes are undeniably intriguing. In 2019 Invitation to View offers a chance to venture behind closed doors at over 50 fascinating places across East Anglia.

Choose from private historic houses, haunted halls, exotic gardens, guildhalls, gatehouses and gun powder mills, even a mysterious rural brewery, top textile collection and Talliston, an eccentric council house conversion, declared ‘Britain’s most extraordinary home’ by the Sunday Times.

Sounds like a tempting treat? Here’s a quick A–Z East Anglia guide.

A… Architecture

Vast Palladian mansions, the Georgian market town splendour of Eye’s Linden House, former abbeys, even a one-time bishop’s palace at South Elmham.

South Elmham Hall

B… Bang!

A visit to Waltham Abbey’s Royal Gunpowder Mills in Essex anyone?

The Royal Gunpowder Mills [Explore]

C… Colourful gardens

Stowupland’s Columbine Hall, Tom Stuart-Smith’s Spencers Garden south of Clare, or sniff out the Bloom family’s famous gardens on a Bressingham Hall tour.

Bressingham Gardens, Norfolk

D… Drink

St Peter’s Hall (Bungay) offers tours, tea, all the trimmings, plus a St Peter’s Brewery visit.

St Peter's Hall

E… Eccentric

Great Dunmow’s Talliston is a Medici mansion, Norwegian boathouse, Japanese tea room and more, all re-imagined within an Essex council house. Weird? Wonderful!

The labrynth stone at Talliston House, Great Dunmow, Essex

F… Football

Captain John Murray Cobbold, founder and first chairman of Ipswich football club lived at Glemham Hall (Woodbridge). Ancestor and current club patron Major Hope-Cobbold shares special sporting memorabilia.

Glemham Hall Front

G… Ghostly goings on

Earsham Hall (Bungay), home to a haunting of friendly ghosts, has many tales to tell.

Earsham Hall Norfolk

H… Half-timbered

Otley Hall (Woodbridge) where the unrivalled great hall and parlour are exquisite discoveries.

Otley2010-05-30 at 15-03-58

I… Island life

Discover how under-moat pipes bring biomass heating to Crow’s Hall (Debenham), or how Island Hall’s owners on Cambridgeshire’s Great Ouse restored their Chinese bridge.

Suffolk, Debenham - Missing wife ?

J… Jam, cream & scones

Many fab Suffolk contenders, but Norfolk’s Kirstead & Brinton Halls are hard to be beat!

Kirstead Hall

K… Knights

Meet the Plantagenets and tour a medieval college at Wingfield College (Eye).

Wingfield, Suffolk

L… Lunch

Make a meal of it – some tours include lunches or suppers!

20/05/18 - The not too shabby Glemham Hall.

M… Monk-ey business

Butley Priory gatehouse (Woodbridge), once part of an Augustinian Priory, saw many royal visits and Henry II once held court at Coggeshall Abbey in Essex.

Butley Priory

N… NEW

New for Invitation to View 2019 is restored Bury Guildhall, and a tour of St Mary’s Church.

Bury St Edmunds, Guildhall

O… Owner

Discover why historic house owners love to share their passions from antiques restoration at edge-of-Essex Parsonage Farm to personal military history at Haughley House (Stowmarket).

Haughley Park_47

P… Palm trees

Palm trees x 100, plus 20 bananas, 200 bamboos with tea in the ‘gingerbread’ summer house at Henstead Exotic Garden (Beccles).

HENSTEAD EXOTIC GARDEN, SUFFOLK

Q… Queen Anne plus Lady Jane and Lovejoy!

Belchamp Hall (Sudbury)

Belchamp Hall 1

R… Restoration

Learn of abbey traces behind Tudor Bruisyard Hall (Framlingham), or witness bringing a Palladian pile back to life at Norfolk’s Wolterton Hall.

Bruisyard Hall

S… Snowdrops

Snowdrops at Norfolk’s Hoveton and Brinton Halls. Cambridgeshire’s Netherhall Manor boasts Tudor primroses and heritage hyacinths in April and glorious Victorian pelargoniums in summer.

Hoveton Hall Gardens, Norfolk, August 2006

T… Textiles

Go behind the scenes at Braintree’s Warner Textile Archive – the second largest collection in Britain.

Textile Archive  087

U… Unfinished business

Layer Marney (Colchester) had Tudor plans for a palace to rival Hampton Court

Layer Marney Tower

V… Voewood

Arts & Crafts extravaganza near the North Norfolk coast.

P1050891

W… Walk

With South Elmham Hall’s owners through historic hunting grounds and ancient Waveney Valley meadows to the ruins of the mysterious minster.

St Peters Hall & Brewery South Elmham

X… Xa Tollemache

At Crow’s Hall (Debenham) see how this Suffolk garden designer has worked her magic within the moat.

Debenham, Suffolk

Y… Yarn

Enjoy a good tea-time treat visiting wool-town greats like Essex’s Finchingfield Guildhall.

Finchingfield

Z… Zzzzzzz

Why not stay over? West Stow Hall (Mildenhall) has en suite bedrooms, and self-catering.

West Stow Hall

For gift vouchers for Invitation to View tours and a 2019 guide call 01284 827087. invitationtoview.co.uk for property details, tour dates and prices, downloadable guide and booking (after January 1, 2019).

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