Who bought Melford?
Melford could have been purchased by John Reeve; he was the high spending last Abbot of the Benedictine monastery of St Edmundsbury, which had owned the manor of Melford since before the Norman Conquest.
Having said that, it could also have been Sir William Cordell; he was one of the most able and ambitious ‘new men’ of the Elizabethan age. Sir William acquired Melford after the Dissolution of the Monasteries and entertained Queen Elizabeth I at Melford in 1578. The present building probably combines the work of both men.
Following the death of Sir William Cordell in 1581, followed by his wife Mary, four years later, Melford Hall passed to Jane Allington. She appeared to have lived mostly in London and to have neglected the house. On her death, Melford was bequeathed to her grandson, Thomas Savage, who came from an ancient Cheshire family.
The Stuart connection
A lawyer, initially at the court of James I and later Charles I, Savage was appointed Chancellor of the Household to Queen Henrietta Maria. His wife Elizabeth also served as a lady-in-waiting to the Queen.
Savage set about completely refurbishing the house in the style of the time. The house was extensively plundered during the Civil War.
In 1649, Melford was purchased by Robert Cordell, MP for Sudbury and Sheriff of the county, who set about repairing and refurbishing the house. Cordell was succeeded by a son and grandson. They lived quietly at Melford for the rest of the century.
The estate passed by marriage to Charles Firebrace in 1710. Firebrace proceeded to modernise the house by demolishing the east range, leaving the present U-shaped building.
The Hyde Parkers
The line of ancestors established by Sir William Cordell in the 1540s came to an end when in 1786 the house and estate were sold to Sir Harry Parker, 6th Baronet.
The house became the home of the Hyde Parkers, one of Britain’s most distinguished naval families.
Their line remains unbroken to this day with Sir Richard Hyde Parker, 12th Baronet, and his wife Jeanie continuing to live at Melford Hall with their family.