History

An Englishman's home is his castle

See the priest's hole, the King's Room, and Mary Queen of Scots embroidery © Matthew Antrobus

See the priest's hole, the King's Room, and Mary Queen of Scots embroidery

On first sight, Oxburgh Hall looks to be an imposing castle, reflected in its impressive Tudor gatehouse and surrounding moat.

Despite being built during the Wars of the Roses, Oxburgh was never intended to be a castle but a family home. It was completed in 1482 for Sir Edmund, and the family have lived at Oxburgh ever since.

The royal connection

This is the King's Room where Henry VII slept in 1487 © NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

This is the King's Room where Henry VII slept in 1487

The Bedingfelds have long enjoyed royal favour.

The King's and Queen's rooms record the occasion in the late 15th century when Henry VII and his Queen, Elizabeth of York, stayed at Oxburgh (although this is likely to have been elsewhere in the house).

Victorian reinvention

North-west corner which contains the dining room

North-west corner which contains the dining room

Oxburgh is in some ways a story of two halves. The Medieval exterior is quite a contrast to the Victorian interior.

Several rooms at Oxburgh were re-modelled by the 6th Baronet, Sir Henry Paston-Bedingfeld. Oxburgh was filled with rich textured wallpapper, dark paneling and heraldic symbols of the family.

 

Timeline

  • 1462 Sir Thomas Tuddenham hung for treason, land passes to his sister
  • 1482 Sir Edmund has permission from Edward IV to build Oxburgh Hall
  • 1487 King Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York visit Oxburgh Hall
  • 1589 Priest hole created
  • 1661 Sir Henry made Baronet by Charles II in lieu of Civil War losses
  • 1761 Mary Queen of Scots needlework used as curtains for bed in the King's Room
  • 1775 4th Baronet demolishes the Great Hall
  • 1830+ West side of the house remodelled, chapel built, gardens transformed
  • 1863 7th Baronet built the south corridor to join the east and west wings
  • 1952 Oxburgh Hall is given to the National Trust

A close shave

See if you can spot empty book shelves in the library © NTPL/Mark Fiennes

See if you can spot empty book shelves in the library

In 1950, the 9th Baronet, Sir Edmund, was forced to sell Oxburgh Hall at a time when many country houses were falling into disrepair.

The house and estate were sold at auction to a property developer who wanted to demolish the house and build 70 houses on the land.

Contents of the house such as books and furniture were sold.

Oxburgh Saved

An unusual view of the hall with the river Gadder in the foreground © Dale Reynolds

An unusual view of the hall with the river Gadder in the foreground

Fortunately, at the 'eleventh hour' the house was saved thanks to three female family members, Sybil, Lady Bedingfeld, Violet Hartcup and Mrs Greathead.

These determined women sold their homes to raise enough money to buy back the house from the developer.

In 1952 they gave it to the National Trust.

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