OXBURGH HALL, NORFOLK

Grid Ref: TF 742 013
Date: 9 April 2011

 

Oxburgh Hall
Oxburgh Hall and moat
Oxburgh Hall
Oxburgh Hall from the south showing the South East Tower

Oxburgh Hall, written Oxborough on the Ordnance Survey Map, lies about 10 miles east of Downham Market. It is a Grade I listed building and in the care of the National Trust. It is a very fine moated house, built for residence rather than as a fortification and as shown in the pictures, built of brick. This is reminiscent of Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire, built a little earlier between 1430 and 1450. Oxburgh Hall was built at the end of the Wars of the Roses for Sir Edmund Bedingfeld and completed in 1482, the year before Richard III came to the throne. The Bedingfeld family have lived at Oxburgh ever since. Following the War of the Roses, in the Tudor period, Henry VII and his wife, Elizabeth of York stayed at Oxburgh. The range of buildings facing the gatehouse was pulled down in 1772 to produce a U-shaped arrangement with the open side facing south. However, the U was filled in again in 1835 to create a central courtyard. The picture immediately above shows this addition, which includes historically incorrect feature of stepped gables over the small doorway in the centre. Note too the small Oriel Window on the second storey of the SE tower.

The Bedingfelds were Catholics and there is a priest hole in the house. A feature of particular interest to visitors is the tapestry work done by Mary Queen of Scots and Bess of Hardwick. Mary was held under house arrest by the Bess of Hardwick's husband, Earl of Shrewsbury. There is a Catholic Chapel nearby built in 1836, not long after the Catholic Emancipation Act allowed such structures.

The Bedingfield Baronetcy was created after the Civil War for Henry Bedingfeld (1614-1685), in 1660 to compensate him for losses incurred during the war when he was a Captain in the Royalist army. At the time of the 6th baronet, Sir Henry Richard Bedingfeld (1800-1862) changed his surname to Paston-Bedinfeld after marrying Margaret Anne Paston, the heiress of Edward Paston.

 

Oxburgh Hall spacer Oxburgh Hall spacer Oxburgh Hall
Moat   Gatehouse   Turret on Gatehouse
Oxburgh Hall   Oxburgh Hall   Oxburgh Hall
Turrets and chimneys   Gatehouse from inside   Tower
Oxburgh Hall   Oxburgh Hall   Oxburgh Hall
View from above   Close up of turret   View from the courtyard

 

 

Church of St. John the Evangelist and the Bedingfeld Chapel

Close by Oxburgh Hall is the church of St. John the Evangelist. It had a tower and spire which collapsed in 1948. Pictures of the church before and just after the collapse are shown on the Oxburgh History Group website. The collapse did not affect the 15th century Bedingfeld Chapel. The church was not fully restored. The nave was lost and the chancel given a new west wall, and made sound to create a place of worship. The Bedingfeld chapel was given a separate entrance.

A sign by the chapel indicates that the East end of the South Aisle contains the Bedinfeld Chapel founded in 1496. The 16th century terra-cotta screens and family monuments were restored with the help of the Historic Churches Preservation Trust and Pilgrim Trust in 1963. There is a good set of photographs showing the chapel as it is today on the Church of St. John the Evangelist site.

Bedinfeld Chantry Chapel spacer Bedingfeld Chapel
North arcade of ruined church   Bedingfeld Chapel
Bedingfeld Chapel   Bedingfeld Chapel
Inscription on tomb of Sir Henry Bedingfeld and his wife   Terra-cotta screen

 

Additional Sources

Wikipedia article on Oxburgh Hall, Paston-Bedingfeld Baronets
Church of St. John the Evangelist site.

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