Tranmer House at Sutton Hoo
Step into Tranmer House, home of Mrs Edith Pretty which overlooks the River Deben and the town of Woodbridge and, of course, the royal Anglo-Saxon burial mounds.
The White House on the Hoo
Built in 1910, Tranmer House was originally known as Sutton Hoo House and was designed by John Corder, a local architect from Ipswich and built for artist and gentleman of independent means John Chadwick Lomax.
After their marriage, Mrs Edith Pretty and Lt Colonel Frank Pretty chose to make this house their home. In 1926, they paid £15,250 for this wonderful country house, which in today’s money would be around £500,000.
When Edith passed away in 1942, the house passed to their only son, Robert Pretty. He was only 12 at the time and moved to live with his aunt in Eton. He would never return to live in Tranmer House himself.
The house instead moved fulltime into the ownership of the War Office, already having provided a home to the Land Army girls – who quite literally left their mark on the house. If you look carefully, you can still see the graffiti they carved into the stone fireplace and the ring of tiny holes in the wooden wall panelling, around where their dartboard would have hung.
The estate was later sold off, leaving the Pretty family’s ownership, bought first by the Bartons - known for their prize winning Friesian cow herd - and then by the Tranmers. In 1998, after Annie Tranmer’s death, the trustees of the Annie Tranmer Trust kindly donated the house and estate to the National Trust and Sutton Hoo House became Tranmer House, renamed in her honour.
Initially, Tranmer House was only open to the public via pre-booked tours, but in 2010 the decision was made to change this, opening up several of the downstairs rooms to the public. Due to the importance of Mrs Pretty to the discovery of the Anglo-Saxon treasure, it was decided to recreate the interior as it would have looked to her in that remarkable year of 1939.
After a public appeal for donations of Edwardian Era furniture – and the extraordinary generosity we received in response – the drawing room, dining room and sitting room were able to be completely refurnished, along with several items loaned to us from other National Trust sites.
With wood-panelled interiors, marble fireplace, and views across to the famous burial ground, Tranmer House is now the perfect place to discover the story of the 1930s archaeological digs.
When visiting us here at Tranmer House, we want you to feel at home.
Feel free to relax on the sofa in front of the fireplace, or take a seat in the beautifully decorated sitting room – all set out ready for tea. Listen to music on the gramophone or play one of our authentic twentieth-century games.
From the Land Army girls’ graffiti on the fireplace, to the original service bells located in the servant’s corridor, there is plenty to see and do within this fantastic building.
Step inside and join us to discover the history of Tranmer House and the lives of the people who have lived and worked here, imagining life as it was, on the brink of the Second World War and with golden treasure newly discovered beneath the ground.
Looking to the future
Along with the rest of the site, Tranmer House will be closing to the public on 1 October 2018. The site and the house will reopen in spring 2019 transformed with the support of Heritage Lottery. In Tranmer House we will be celebrating Edith Pretty's role in the 1939 excavation alongside revealing stories from subsequent archaeological work in the 1960s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and beyond.
Did you know?
- Part of the house was demolished to save on heating bills
- There was no garden because the rabbits would destroy it
- Where the café now stands, there used to be a sunken rose garden instead
- You can rent a holiday apartment at the house and live just like Mrs Pretty