- Special event
Shearing sheep was a vital part of the country's economy in the medieval and Tudor periods when the country's wealth depended upon wool.
Because sheep were traditionally bred for wool (as for many other uses, such as meat, horn, sheepskin, velum, leather 'basil'), it was necessary for the sheep's wellbeing to be shorn annually. Our shearing is now mechanical, not by hand, but just as important for the welfare of the animals.
As well as the shearing, the House and Gardens will be open for you to enjoy, with the House itself will be open from 12noon to 2.00pm. The majority of rooms will be open, apart from the ones the family are using.
An active day out for explorers of all ages - a breath of fresh air for everyone!
Kentwell Hall stands as a stunning early brick Tudor House. Started by John Clopton (d 1497) – who was mainly responsible for rebuilding Melford Church in the 1480s – and finished before 1540 by his son, Sir William Clopton (d 1530), who married first a merchant's daughter and later an heiress, to fund its later development. It has a brick lined moat around the House, extended in the 18th Century, with another, perhaps earlier, moat around the Walled Garden.
The Moat House was built in the late 15th Century as a service building for an earlier house, with three very different elements. A brick southern section rising from the Moat with a projecting tower complete with loops and arrow slits, which is the Brewhouse. A half-timbered bricknogged and jettied middle section, which is the Bakehouse. A fancy brickwork 18th Century northern section, with white Woolpit bricks, now the Dairy.
Seeing the inside of the House is a fascinating experience. It remains still in layout an essentially Tudor House, just one room thick throughout. The interior reflects decoration of the 1800s and embellishments since 1970.
The West Wing reveals the bones of the Tudor House in the Great Kitchen with its massive fireplace and ovens, the Corridor and the intimate Panelled Room alone a survival of the House’s once plentiful oak panelling. The Centre Block shows the architect Thomas Hopper’s Gothick style. The Great Hall is re-imagined as in baronial times. The former service rooms have given way to the almost perfect cube of the imposing Dining Room, in Hopper’s Jacobethan style dominated by a massive marble fire surround. The Drawing Room exhibits a much lighter more Georgian touch but with a fine Tudor style marble fire surround.
In the East Wing the handsome Grand Stair of about 1675 has survived intact. The Tudor rooms layout beyond were lost in the late 18th Century but the windows remain. The whole formed by Hopper to be a second Withdrawing Room with the then popular Scagliola colonnade approached through the Library, for which the Phillips have provided the bookcases, which doubles as a Billiard Room.
The State Bedroom and the Phillips’s idiosyncratic Roman style State Bathroom are the most striking. Though many prefer to test their extra-sensory powers in the Victorian Haunted Room.
Notable are the massive Chinese style table the Phillips had made in China in the Dining Room. The huge picture an Allegory on Virtue and Vice, perhaps from Henry VIII’s Nonsuch Palace which dominates the Great Hall. Also there stunning stained glass the earliest of which dates from about 1425. In the Drawing Room, the Phillips collection of Tudor Portraits show the Tudor family and also leading figures of their time. Also the Four Seasons ceiling painted for the Phillips by Paul Dufficey based upon eight Breughel paintings and the frieze based upon his Children’s Games. There too the screen showing the Coronation Procession of Edward VI.
In the Stair Hall some very early fragments of Clopton stained glass from the church probably rescued from later depredations.
The Billiard Room Tudor boasts some of the finest armorial glass, featuring the Cloptons and their connections, as fine as any in a House in England.
Kentwell's Gardens provide a haven of tranquility and beauty in a challenging world. A feeling of naturalness, not over-manicured, where visitors can lose themselves in the moment. The beauty of the buildings and the usually still waters of the moats, disturbed only by fish and fowl, set the tone.
There is a strong sense of the past. The Gardens have developed over six centuries and the keen eye will find elements from each. There is a sense of fun too - from the Sculpted Tree and Tudor Rose Courtyard Maze to the Yew Castle and the varied topiary. The gnarled arms of over 100 varieties of ancient espalier fruit trees form avenues among the colourful borders, vegetable pottager and huge herb garden in the Walled Garden. The hornbeam hedge at the Magic Circle, the silver birch walk and the long avenue of pyramidal lime trees are all as striking bare as when in full leaf. The Fish Pond and the Sunken Garden, part of the old Walled Garden moat are linked by a charming woodland walk – a breath of fresh air in the springtime and a shady treat on a summers day.
Please pre-book your visit (any time up to 10.30am on the day of your visit), so we can monitor numbers expected on site. Also, if you pre-book, you get a discount of £2 per ticket! Please arrive in good time to get the most out of your visit. You are welcome to arrive at any time from opening time until our last entry at 2.00pm. The gardens will close at 4pm. If you are Season Ticket holders, or Historic Houses members, please also book your tickets on-line.
Refreshments: we are pleased to offer light lunches and refreshments as a take-out service, for our visitors to enjoy outdoors.
Facilities: the loos near the Tea Garden area will be available for use.
The Weather: we will open whatever the weather and your visit can certainly fill a rewarding few hours. Please dress appropriately for the weather! Kentwell has its own Met Office weather report - please click here to view it.
Accessibility: the majority of the gardens are accessible by wheelchair in good weather, via good pathways and firm, lawned or mown grass tracks.
Disabled Visitor Discount: for registered disabled visitors and their carers: please purchase tickets at the next rate down. If you are adults, please purchase a senior ticket; if you are seniors, please purchase a child ticket, and so on.
Dogs: no dogs, except guide dogs, are permitted within the grounds.
Cancellations and refunds: Should Government action at any time cause us to close, we will, of course, refund any tickets purchased for any affected days. Otherwise, we operate a no-refunds policy. Tickets are not transferrable to other days, or to other events. Please always check our website before travelling, in case circumstances or Government Advice has changed.
Covid Precautions: we ask that everyone brings lower face coverings to wear in indoor areas such as our loos. Please bring your own hand sanitiser. Please do not attend if you are suffering from, or displaying any symptoms of, Coronavirus, or if you have recently been in contact with someone who has had symptoms or tested positive for Coronavirus.
Tickets & prices
Booking for this event is currently unavailable.