- Walk in the footsteps of movie stars and medieval nobility at this Grade I listed building.
- Meet rare animals at the working farm, including Isabella the donkey.
- Head to one of the special themed events that take place throughout the year.
- Explore the beautiful fruit trees of the secret Walled Garden.
- Enjoy a traditional English afternoon tea at the Tea Garden.
One of the oldest and most beautiful stately homes in Suffolk, Kentwell Hall and Gardens and its stunning red brick exterior has a surprise around every corner. With a mention in the Domesday Book of 1086, there has been a house on the site of Kentwell Hall for almost a thousand years. Having been featured as a location on numerous films and television shows, such as Monty Python's 1996 production of 'The Wind in the Willows', as well as the film series 'The Chronicles of Narnia', as well as multiple BBC and ITV appearances. The combination of ancient features and more recent 16th century Tudor additions, as well as over 30 acres of grounds to explore, makes this Suffolk Hall a fascinating place for a family day out.
While the Kentwell Hall we know now was built in 1563, there is evidence from the 11th century of a house that was known as Kanewella, on the site. Lord of the Rings fans might be interested to know that it was owned by Frodo, the brother of Abbott Baldwin, and remained in the family until around 1250. From then, Kentwell Hall was passed to the crown, and given by Henry III to Sir William de Valence. From then, the Hall was acquired and passed down between various families for centuries, until it was finally bought and restored by Patrick and Judith Phillips, who still use the Hall as their personal home. For almost 300 years Kentwell Hall was owned by the Clopton family, who acquired the house in 1375. They lived in the house for centuries, and in 1563 it appears they altered the location of the house to its current location. The oldest building on site is the Moat House, which was built in the early 1400s. The main building of Kentwell Hall was built in 1563, by the Cloptonsand still stands to this day. The house remained in the ownership of the Cloptons until the last member of the family died in 1661. Changes were made by famous Victorian architect Thomas Hopper, when large amounts fo the interior was destroyed by fire in 1826.
The grounds surrounding Kentwell Hall include beautiful gardens, a 16th century extensive moat and an Ice House from the 1700s. The 30 acres of gardens and grounds are a great place to enjoy running around with the kids, and exploring the historic surroundings of one of the finest Tudor houses in the UK. Admire the intricate landscaping and planting that led to the beautiful Walled Garden, which has over 60 different varieties of fruit trees. Kids can explore the mysteries of the Sunken Garden, which was a part of the moat in its past life, and admire the intricate topiary that frames the formal gardens. Plus, as the seasons change, the whole family can enjoy the wildflowers in the summer, snowdrops in the spring and bluebells in summer.
If you're visiting with children, Kentwell Hall and Gardens is a popular spot not only due to the huge 18th century gardens, but also the fantastic working farm on site! Here, kids can meet the two miniature Shetland ponies, Saffy and Sylvie, and also lots of rare breed animals including horses, cows and pigs. Plus you can say hello to Isabella, a rare Poitou Donkey. Adventurous kids can explore the brick maze, and see if they can find the exit, and then seal the deal for your family day with an ice cream at the Tearoom.
Throughout the year there are many great special events on at this top Tudor house. Easter, Christmas and Halloween are all great times to visit, with child-friendly events such as 'Halloweenies' for young kids and a wonderful Dickensian Christmas experience for all the family. One hugely popular attraction for older teens and grown ups is Scaresville, which takes place every year. Here. groups can tour the scary Haunted Village with jump scares that will haunt you for weeks. There are also Tudor re-enactment events held at Kentwell all year round, as well as World War II and Victorian re-enactments.
Once you've taken in the Tudor history, beautiful gardens and maybe some special events, head to the Paddocks Tea Garden for something to eat or drink. Here, you'll find the Tearoom and alfresco area, where you can enjoy a delicious afternoon tea, or even a light lunch. The food here is made with local, seasonal ingredients, and there are also lots of options for children. Plus, you can either take away food from the Tearoom or bring your own lunch, to enjoy in the picnic area. Since Kentwell Hall is located just on the edge of the village of Long Melford, you can also head here for some pub food at the Hare Inn, or head to the Long Melford Swan for a restaurant experience. Kentwell Hall is also just 10 miles from the town of Bury St Edmunds, where there are also lots more options for food, hotels and other amenities.
If you want to continue your experience at Kentwell, there are also holiday cottages available to rent on the estate. A great option if you want to continue exploring Suffolk and perhaps exploring the historical town of Bury St Edmunds, or the local picturesque countryside, there are lots of options for groups of different sizes.
If your family enjoyed their trip to Kentwell Hall and Gardens and Long Melford, why not add the equally fascinating Framlingham Castle to your list, to continue your historical Suffolk adventure? Or, for a relaxing day by the lake, Needham Lake and Nature Reserve in Ipswich is the place to go.
What to know before you go
- Kentwell Hall and Gardens opening times are from 12pm-4pm on Thursdays and Fridays, and 10:30am-4pm from Saturday-Wednesday.
- There are accessible toilets and baby changing facilities available on site.
- The Hall and gardens are both accessible for buggies and wheelchair users. However, in some weathers the ground can get muddy, in which case ramps are temporarily put in place.
- Unfortunately dogs aren't allowed on site, unless they are approved guidance dogs.
- Please note that Scaresville is intended for teens and adults over the age of 14.
- Picnics are not allowed in the grounds, and are only permitted in the designated picnic area.
- Since Kentwell Hall and Gardens still exists as a residential home, it is not open all year round, and there may be some times where you cannot enter the Hall itself.
- To get to Kentwell Hall by car, head to the end of Long Melford past the village green. From here, you can follow the brown signs to Kentwell Hall and Gardens and you'll find the entrance opposite The Hare pub. Long Melford is accessible via the A134, and is located between Sudbury and Bury St Edmunds. The postcode is CO10 9BA, however according to staff at Kentwell Hall this may not be accurate if you are using a Satnav.
- Free parking is available on site at Kentwell Hall.
- The nearest train station is 5 miles away at Sudbury, and you can take a taxi to Kentwell Hall if needed.
- There is also a local bus service, with a bus stop located 100 yards from Kentwell Hall's road entrance, but services aren't regular so check before your trip.
- Please note that once you reach the road entrance to the Hall, there is a mile-long walk or drive down the private road that will lead you to the Hall itself.