The Hall at Oxburgh
Oxburgh Hall has been the family home of the Bedingfelds’ for more than 500 years, and they still live within private apartments at Oxburgh today. Peel back the layers of history as you wander around the house, the contents of which reveal the collecting habits of a single family from Tudor times to the present day.
The prominent Gatehouse is a masterpiece of medieval brickwork and is the best surviving example of the original Tudor building. Built as a statement, at a time when the family were wealthy and powerful, inside you’ll find two high status rooms whose names commemorate a royal visit. It’s within these rooms that the Bedingfeld family celebrated their history, decorating the rooms in the ‘romantic’ style so that they retained much of their Tudor character, even if this wasn’t necessarily all original.
The King’s Room
Although this room was named after King Henry VII, he never actually slept in this room on his royal visit in 1498. Decorated in the 19th century, the family hung elaborate 16th century Flemish tapestries above mock-Tudor panelling, draped flags with heraldic emblems at the windows and used the Marian hangings as bed curtains – all a ‘romantic’ nod to the King’s Room’s former appearance.
The Queen’s Room
Another room decorated to remember better times, here you can still see traces of the elaborate painting scheme imitating Tudor brickwork, added in the Victorian period.
The Hall has undergone numerous changes in its 500 year history, due to the hardship the family faced. However, in the early 19th century, the 6th Baronet began work to decorate and furnish the Hall in the antiquarian style you see today. He re-used panelling, embossed leather, heraldic motifs, heavy oak furniture, ancient textiles and neo-Gothic wallpapers and fabrics were combined to create a ‘romantic’ atmosphere, an approach that his son, the 7th Baronet continued. A celebratory and nostalgic way of looking at their past, here are some of the key rooms to look out for on your visit.
Originally the site of Oxburgh’s Tudor kitchen, the Saloon was built for the 4th Baronet as a picture gallery. In the 1860s the room was altered and redecorated by the 7th Baronet, in an attempt to revive a Gothic spirit. Replacing the sash windows, he hung deep red flock wallpaper and commissioned new curtains for the room. As you look around the walls, you’ll find portraits of Protestant monarchs, which is unusual for such a Catholic household.
The West Drawing Room
This room formed a suite with the Saloon and was created by sweeping away a housekeeper’s room, store room and servants’ hall. Clues to the room’s Neo-classical character survive, such as the door cases, dado rail and fireplace. A more feminine room than the Saloon, the walls were originally decorated with floral chintz wallpaper. Take your time to look up at the magnificent ceiling in this room.
Formerly a bedroom and breakfast room, the Library was created by J.C. Buckler for the 6th Baronet, after much deliberating about the layout of rooms in this area of the house. The interior remains substantially unaltered, and its mixture of ancient woodcarvings and Gothic-style furniture is typical of a ‘romantic interior’. The wallpaper in this room with its embossed metallic ‘waffle’ background is suggestive of the hand of Thomas Willement, arguably the leading wallpaper designer of the period.
Originally a Library and very almost a Kitchen, construction was relatively far advanced before plans were abandoned in favour of a Dining Room. This decision was rather impractical, as the Kitchen was located on the other side of the house and meant hot food would have to be carried outside or, later, negotiated along a corridor around three sides of the house. Like many other rooms in the house, all is not as it seems. The heavily carved panelling added in the 1830s, incorporates elements dating from 1635 and 1731 and the sideboard is made up of various pieces of different dates, including part of a Tudor bed!
Although Oxburgh’s collection was reduced when times were hard and the house was sold in 1951, the house today still reflects the tastes of the Bedingfeld family and contains a number of items on loan from the family and the Victoria & Albert Museum.