Westhorpe

 

Pictures of buildings mentioned in the “Suffolk” volume of “The Buildings of England” series by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner.


One of the most important sites in Suffolk now has almost nothing to show for it.  Once the seat of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and his wife Mary Tudor, former Queen of France.  Their three children, Henry, Frances and Eleanor were born here. Frances was the mother of Lady Jane Grey.  Mary also died here and is buried in Bury St. Edmunds.


Apart from the church Pevsner only mentions Westhorpe Hall (p480, 2nd edition) of which he says “Georgian but with a three-arched Tudor bridge of brick across the moat.  The house has an original pediment and coat of arms across the doorway.  It was the residence of Mary Tudor (1496 - 1533), daughter of Henry VII, widow of Louis XII of France, and wife of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk.  She had been married to Louis XII at the age of seventeen, and he died after two years.  Her love had belonged to Charles Brandon, to whom, when widowed, she was secretly married in France.  He had to pay Henry VIII £24,000 to reconcile him.” 


Jane Wight, in Brick Building in England, says of it “largely demolished in C18 when Thomas Martin recorded destruction of moulded brick or terracotta ornament.” and “Westhorpe Hall retains a little Tudor work, but the main relic is brick bridge with 3 arches crossing moat.”


John Wodderspoon, in Historic Sites and Other Remarkable and Interesting Places in the County of Suffolk (1839) noted (in rather flowery Victorian prose): “The Hall of Westhorpe was of large dimensions and had attached a chapel with cloisters in which existed a fine window of stained glass.  The gardens of large extent were kept in the style of the continental pleasure grounds, the princess having imbibed a taste for the quaint conceits of the French mode of gardening by her brief sojourn in France.  The  whole building is however removed.  Martin, the historian of Thetford, gives us the last notice of its expiring existence in a note penned upon a casual visit to the place, and which while it breathes a melancholy farewell to the once renowned mansion, expresses a natural wonder, that such fine ornaments of the land, should be broken up and destroyed for ever, and without a cause.” 


Martin says “I went to see the dismal ruins of Westhorpe Hall, formerly the seat of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk.  The workmen are now pulling it down as fast as may be in a very careless and injudicious manner.  The coping bricks, battlements, and many other ornamental pieces are made of earth and burnt hard, and as fresh as when first built.  They might, with care, have been taken down whole, but all the fine chimnies and ornaments were pulled down with ropes and crushed to pieces in a most shameful manner.  There was a monstrous figure of Hercules sitting cross legged with his club and a lion beside him, but all shattered to pieces.  The painted glass is likely to share the same fate.  The timber is fresh and sound and the building which was very lofty stood as erect as when first built.  It is a pity that care is not taken to preserve some few of our ancient fabrics.  To demolish every piece of old architecture is quite barbarous.”


Remnants of the moat are still there as is the 3 arched Tudor bridge.  The house is now a private nursing home.


Here is the bridge:



and here the moat



and here the moat again:



The largely new (albeit Georgian) house is seen here from a distance:



and the entrance here:



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