The builder of Sudbury Hall

Portrait of George Vernon who created Sudbury Hall © NTPL John Hammond

Portrait of George Vernon who created Sudbury Hall

George Vernon was just 25 when he inherited Sudbury; he was described as a ‘prudent young man, sober and active…’ and was well connected in the local area. He set about creating a house that would celebrate his political ambition, wealth and social position.

Inheriting an estate

George inherited the estate in 1660 and immediately began to rebuild his ancestor’s smaller mansion. He moved the village of Sudbury to its present location and set about building the current hall.

About the same time George married lucratively to Margaret Onley, an heiress from Northamptonshire, and began his life’s work spanning the next 42 years of creating Sudbury Hall.

Building his dream home

George kept accounts of all he spent on the house, which have proved an invaluable source of research for the National Trust. There was no payment to an architect so we believe he designed the house himself.

With his energy and new-found wealth, he created a Jacobean house but kept the traditional structure preferred by the Tudors with the state rooms towards the east and the service rooms to the west.

George's wives

Just one year after Margaret’s death in 1675, George married Dorothea Shirley, who was the daughter of Lady Catherine and Sir Robert Shirley and they had two daughters.

After Dorothea died in 1680, he married Catherine Vernon who was just 18 at the time, George was 44. It was another advantageous marriage and gave George access to the business acumen of her London-based merchant family. It was their son, Henry who inherited Sudbury upon George’s death in 1702.

Creating a legacy

The history of the Vernon family is a mix of ambition, passion, creativity, innovation and design. It is their passion for the 17th century craftsmanship that has enabled Sudbury’s interiors to remain untouched and to be considered one of the most richly decorated and complete houses of its period.