Bones under the floorboards, shoes in walls, candle burn marks on the attic ceiling and witch marks... what was going on in Thorington Hall? Our ancestors lived in a world of unexplained illness, witchcraft and evil. Many of these marks and what seems like unusual behaviour were to protect their home and family.
Thorington shows how changing tastes, fashions and functional use shape our houses. In the 1700s a new, modern staircase was built facing the street. The older 1630s staircase was demoted and the attic rooms may then have become servants' quarters.
On the first landing of the 1630s staircase there's a window which has a number of grafittied window panes. On closer inspection you realise that it's been there for some time. J Ratcliffe from Nayland, Suffolk and Thomas Pearle from Richmond in Surry 1770 left their mark and Charles Parson obviously decided to continue the tradition on March 17 1836.
This painting above the parlour fireplace was produced by putting oil paints straight onto wooden panels around the 1700s. The panels would usually have been boiled or steamed to remove gum and resin to prevent splitting. Once this was done they would have been coated with size (a glutinous material) to fill pores and with gesso (a mixture of glue and whiting) to prepare the surface.
There are around 38 different religious scenes depicted by the Delft tiles in the chamber over the hall. We asked our visitors if they could identify them for us as some were easier than others. We now have a Bible reference for each tile and a better understanding of the stories this fireplace was telling.
Thorington Hall's tall chimney is a significant feature in the landscape and when first built in 1630 would have been visible from miles away. It had to be rebuilt, brick by brick, in 2007 as it had become unstable.
Although unable to explore the cellar fully, visitors get to see one of the oldest parts of the house. Built around 1550, it would once have been used as a place to hang meat. Barrels may have been kept in the recess underneath the staircase and later wine may also have been stored here.
Ever wanted to stay in a National Trust house? Why not book a wonderful holiday on the Suffolk and Essex border with friends and family. Thorington Hall is full of character and comfortable too. With history oozing out of every corner you'll soon feel as though you're travelling back in time without leaving the modern luxuries of home.