Thorington Hall

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

A National Trust property that is only open to the public on one day each year! Often hard to find on the National Trust web-site (hence no link here) the open day usually coincides with the Historic Open Days weekend in September of each year.

This Hall is near Stoke-by-Nayland and should not be confused with the Hall that was at Thorington village which is miles away. The ‘other’ Thorington Hall was demolished in 1949 and details with a picture can be found in the book
Lost Country Houses of Suffolk by W M Roberts.

The May 2010 edition of
Suffolk magazine had an article on Thorington Hall from which the following is a quote:

“ There is evidence of an earlier building, perhaps a medieval hall, a little to the west. One room from this period survives within the house. The structure of the rest of the house belongs to two periods. The western wing and hall, with its star-topped, sixstack chimney soaring up about 40 courses, and its rich barge boards, was built in the late 16th or very early 17th century. ... The eastern wing was added in the late 17th century, with a scroll-pedimented doorway on the south front. Very little of the ornate plasterwork which embellished the outside of the house remains visible, although you can see some above this south door as you look up towards the chimney.”

Occupiers were said to include Thomas May somewhere in the period 1600 - 1700 and the White family owned the farm and had tenants from 1784 to 1901. From 1935 - 1940 the Penrose family restored the house before giving it to the National Trust.

Here is a view of the Hall (the road is the other side):

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And here from the road side:

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Pevsner says of it “A house of the C16 with additions of the early C18. Of the former period the handsome oriel window at the back with the bressumer over, and also the chimneys with octagonal stacks carrying star tops....” As seen here:

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Pevsner continues “... of the latter period the S doorway with its open curly pediment.” As seen here:

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Sandon in Suffolk Houses features the chimneys in a section on Brick Chimneys (pp128 - 130) noting: “Later [than 1531], when no longer decorated, they can go soaring up to about forty courses as Thorington Hall, Stoke-by-Nayland, producing an overall height of over 20 feet above the ridge”. Sandon goes into much more detail on pp283 - 284 including comparing the oriel window with that on the Lady Street side of the Guildhall at Lavenham. He concludes by noting that “The whole house was repaired under the direction of the architect, Mr Marshall Sisson, FRIBA, in 1937 and acquired by the National Trust in 1941.”

Here are a couple of other views:

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When this page had been in being for a while I had an e-mail from a tenant of the National Trust who believed the place was haunted and enquired about former residents. The information I provided came from the Suffolk Magazine (May 2010) referred to above. The tenant came after the Wollastons from 2007 to 2011.

Early 1600s to 1700: Thomas May owned this house, although we don't know the exact dates.
1784 - 1901: The White family owned the farm and had tenants.
1935 to 1940: The Penrose family restored the house and gave Thorington Hall to the National Trust.
1976 to 2007:  Mr and Mrs Wollaston lived here as tenants.

They thought that the figure (possibly) seen in the doorway in the photograph below and with a keen imagination might be in 17C dress and therefore could be Thomas May - believed to be a poet.
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