Discover the history and superstitions of Thorington Hall

Exterior of Thorington Hall

Step back in time with a stay at Thorington Hall. Packed full of history and character, this vast 17th-century farmhouse has features dating back to the 1500s. Discover how its former residents used to ward off evil spirits or be inspired by its historic decorations.

Set across three floors, Thorington Hall’s large, bright rooms conceal modern facilities, yet retain the grandeur of the powerful landowners who once farmed almost 1400 acres surrounding the Hall. 

With eight double bedrooms, two sitting rooms, a dining room, orchard and stables, you’ll feel like you’re stepping into the shoes of a 17th-century country squire when you stay at Thorington Hall holiday cottage

The dining room at Thorington Hall can seat 21 people
Dining room at Thorington Hall

A family affair

We know little of the history of Thorington Hall before the early 1600s when it became the home of a gentleman called Thomas May. 

Thomas lived in the house until his death in 1645 when it passed onto two more generations of his family – both called Thomas May. 

For the next 100 years, Thorington remained a family home, often passing through several generations of the same family. With the arrival of each new owner, parts of the house were demolished, renovated and rebuilt, resulting in its unconventional and rambling design.   

A tenanted farm

In 1746, the house was bought by Vice-Admiral Sir Joshua Rowley, and it became part of the Tendring Hall Estate. From that time the house, and associated farmland, was let to tenants.

Renovation and gifting to the National Trust

By 1912, Thorington Hall had fallen into disrepair. It remained derelict until it was bought by Professor Lionel Penrose who restored the house and gifted it to the National Trust in 1940. 

In 2007, we carried out extensive research to discover more of Thorington Hall’s history. This enabled us to install new modern facilities without compromising the character of the building. 

During the Second World War Thorington Hall was used as an evacuation hostel
Ground floor snug of Thorington Hall

Thorington’s superstitious surprises 

Bones under the floorboards, shoes in walls and candle burn marks on the attic ceiling are a few of the more unusual features of Thorington Hall. 

During the 1937 restoration work, a series of dark symbols were uncovered on the ceilings of the attics. It is believed that these may have been burnt onto the ceiling to ward off evil spirits. 

A 16th-century shoe was also found behind the plaster in the dining room, another superstitious practice to protect the family against malevolent spirits. 

Past owners have carved their names onto the windows
A window inscription at Thorington hall

Other historical features to spot during a stay at Thorington Hall are the intricately decorated Tudor roses on the west staircase, panel painting in the bedroom and the signatures of previous owners etched onto window panes.