Farmstead record WFG 047 - Farmstead: Brandeston Hall

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Brandeston Hall, Great Waldingfield. 19th century farmstead and 16th century farmhouse. Regular courtyard multi-yard plan formed by working agricultural buildings. The farmhouse is set away from the yard. Partial loss (less than 50%) of the traditional farm buildings. Located within an isolated position.


Grid reference Centred TL 9146 4677 (130m by 191m)
Map sheet TL94NW


Type and Period (8)

Full Description

2016: The moated site contains a grade II-listed timber-framed and rendered farmhouse which appears to date from the 16th century and a number of farm buildings including a timberframed and weatherboarded barn of the early-19th century. At the time of the tithe survey in 1838 the farm was an unusually large tenanted holding of 358.5 acres with an extensive complex of outbuildings. The present barn of circa 1800-1820 is the only survivor of this complex, and reflects the great agricultural rebuilding in East Anglia prompted by high grain prices during the Napoleonic wars. Its original roof structure of staggered butt-purlins is completely intact, but its walls were almost entirely rebuilt in softwood on a new Flettonbrick plinth in or about the 1960s. A small section of 19th century framing was preserved by a lean-to extension, along with a section of original external roughcast render which illustrates the appearance of many local farm buildings before the advent of tar as a cheap by-product of town-gas production in the mid-19th century. A complex of single-storied red-brick sheds on the site was built as a sophisticated ‘model’ farm in the 1850s or 60s, typical of the yard-based agricultural revolution known today as Victorian High Farming. This complex was also extensively rebuilt and remodelled in Fletton brick during the mid-20th century, largely erasing its historic value. The chief historic importance of the site now lies in its ancient origin as an Anglo- Saxon manor that was recorded by name at Domesday as a settlement in its own right, rather than part of Great Waldingfield, ‘Brantestona’ had been owned before the Conquest by Aelfeva, the mother of Earl Morcar, and extended to one league in length. But for the historic accident of absentee landlords in subsequent centuries it might well have developed into a separate parish, and archaeological evidence of its early origins may be preserved below ground (S1).

2017: Brandeston Hall occupies an important early-medieval manorial site that was recorded as a settlement at Domesday. It subsequently became a tenanted farm owned by absentee landlords including Dartford Nunnery in the 14th century, the Appleton family of nearby Holbrook Hall in the 16th century and the estate of Sir Edmund Bacon of Redgrave Hall in the 17th century. It was acquired shortly after WWI by Suffolk County Council as part of the Council Farms programme (‘Land for Heroes’). At the time of the tithe survey in 1838 it was an unusually large holding of over 350 acres, although none of the farm buildings pre-date the 19th century. The grade II-listed farmhouse is a timber-framed and rendered structure of circa 1600 which appears to lie on or just outside the front arm of a medieval moat. 19th century maps and a photograph of circa 1910 show the house approximately twice as large as today, with an additional bay to the left of its facade and two substantial wings to the rear (but not the cross-wings mentioned in the listing description). These were demolished by the Council in circa 1930, when the remaining Tudor-style octagonal chimney shafts were rebuilt and the windows renewed in the first of two major phases of alteration. The second phase of circa 1970 saw the application of the present cement render and further changes to the internal layout, although this survives chiefly from the 1930s.
Despite the size and status of the farm in the 19th century, the building’s 20th century truncation simply removed later extensions and restored its original proportions as a relatively modest husbandman’s dwelling. Its clasped-purlin roof survives intact with evidence of original hips at both gables, and the layout is typical of its period with a central hall flanked on the right by a parlour and on the left by a single service room. The outline of the original entrance to the cross-passage, still used in 1924, can be seen in the corner of the hall but is now blocked by a cupboard of circa 1930. The panelled door of this cupboard is identical to several others in the house, including those of the present rear entrance lobby, WC and kitchen that were inserted into the service bay at the same time. The upper storey was initially open to the rafters and divided in the same way. Part of the right-hand rear wing, added between 1838 and 1884, survived the Council’s demolition along with its large Victorian Mock Gothic staircase, but the two rooms that lay beyond were removed. This staircase is now the only evidence of the house’s former scale and grandeur. Most of the wall studs and ceiling joists are hidden internally by a mixture of 1930s fibreboard, 1970s plasterboard and older lath-and-plaster of the 17th or 18th centuries, but blocked original windows with shutter groves and at least one ‘diamond’ mullion are visible in the rear wall of the upper storey. Although parts of the ground-floor walls may have been rebuilt in masonry, the original frame is probably relatively well preserved behind this cladding, and early painted decoration may well survive either on or beneath the earliest sections of plaster. The two ground-floor fireplaces have been partly rebuilt but the brickwork of the parlour fireplace retains original red-ochre pigment, and a good apple store survives in the roof (S8).

Brandeston Hall, Great Waldingfield. 19th century farmstead and 16th century farmhouse. Regular courtyard multi-yard plan formed by working agricultural buildings. The farmhouse is set away from the yard. Partial loss (less than 50%) of the traditional farm buildings. Located within an isolated position (S2-7).

Recorded as part of the Farmsteads in the Suffolk Countryside Project. This is a purely desk-based study and no site visits were undertaken. These records are not intended to be a definitive assessment of these buildings. Dating reflects their presence at a point in time on historic maps and there is potential for earlier origins to buildings and farmsteads. This project highlights a potential need for a more in depth field study of farmstead to gather more specific age data.

Sources/Archives (8)

  • --- Unpublished document: Alston, L.. 2017. Historic Building Survey: Brandeston Hall, Great Waldingfield.
  • <S1> Unpublished document: Alston, L.. 2016. Historic Asset Assessment: Farm Buildings at Brandeston Hall, Great Waldingfield.
  • <S2> Unpublished document: Campbell, G., and McSorley, G. 2019. SCCAS: Farmsteads in the Suffolk Countryside Project.
  • <S3> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1880s. Ordnance Survey 25 inch to 1 mile map, 1st edition.
  • <S4> Map: Ordnance Survey. c 1904. Ordnance Survey 25 inch to 1 mile map, 2nd edition. 25".
  • <S5> Vertical Aerial Photograph: various. Google Earth.
  • <S6> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1949. Ordnance Survey 6 inch to 1, mile, 3rd edition. 1:10,560.
  • <S7> Map: 1838. Great Waldingfield Tithe Map.

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Record last edited

Nov 10 2022 8:13AM

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