Yaxley

 

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


There is a former Gildhall in Yaxley not listed in Pevsner and a photograph can be found on one of the pages on Suffolk Gildhalls with more information about Gilds here.


Yaxley Hall is a bracketed entry in the book (p510), so it was not in the first edition.  It is described as “A composite picture from the gardens.  Three-bay range, castellated, with little wooden lantern, a pedimented doorway, and two curiously fanciful Gothic windows. Attached on the end of an older range with mullioned and transomed windows and a pedimented gable”.  This is not the whole story.


In the photograph below, the two wings on the right of the brick section were once replicated on the left hand side: they burnt down in 1922.  Furthermore, the most right-hand wing dates from the 1500s so the original building was almost certainly E-plan with subsequent in-filling.


At one stage it was possible to visit the house through the excellent “Invitation to View” scheme.  The house is not now easily accessible to the visitor but it is available for weddings.  Some further history of the house is given beneath the photo.  The Hall is not mentioned at all in Sandon’s Suffolk Houses.


Permission to photograph was given.




Taken from the “invitation to View” leaflet:


“For some 300 years Yaxley Hall was in the hands of just two families.  The first were the Yaxleys themselves, who were a Catholic family aligned with notable  Norfolk Catholics such as the Howards and Bedingfields,  The Hall was then acquired by the Fourth Earl of Scarsdale in the 18th century for his mistress and their illegitimate children.  Miss Henrietta Nelson, the reputed ghost of Yaxley Hall, was a member of this family and her painting has recently been returned to the Hall after an absence of 100 years.  The Hall remained in the hands of the Earl’s descendants until the 20th century, when Lord Henniker acquired the property and added it to his substantial Suffolk land holdings.  It was remodelled by Lord Henniker to serve as a  base for weekend  guests and shooting parties.


Disaster struck in 1922 when two of the five wings were destroyed in a terrible fire, which made the national press.  A wayward Italian butler was blamed, but the exact circumstances remain unclear.  The Hall, now reduced in size, passed into the hands of Blanche Broadwood (of the piano family), who lived here for forty years.  The modernist architect Sir Basil Spence also lived here for a brief period in the 1970s”.


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