OXBURGH HALL

Oxburgh Hall was built in the late fifteenth century by Sir Edmund Bedingfield. Various members of the family held high profile posts in the Yorkist and Tudor governments but their staunch Catholicism led to persecution during Elizabeth I’s reign. The hall was burnt during the Civil War but rebuilt in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

History

 

There has been a settlement at Oxborough since at least the late eleventh century but it is unknown whether any castle or manor house was built upon the site prior to the fifteenth century. Recorded owners included the Weyland and Tuddingham families before it passed by marriage to the Bedingfeld family in the early fifteenth century. In 1453 it was inherited by Sir Edmund Bedingfeld and it was during his tenure that Oxborough became his family seat. Construction of his new hall house (which was known as Oxburgh) probably started in the late 1470s and he was formally granted a licence to crenellate by Edward IV in July 1482. Edmund was a loyal servant of the Yorkist regime but, following the death of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field (1485), he switched his support to the new Tudor regime.

 

Oxburgh Hall consisted of four brick built ranges arranged around a rectangular courtyard. An elaborate gatehouse dominated the north side of the structure and the entire site was surrounded by a wet moat. The defences were predominantly for show and would not have been effective against a well-equipped force. However, the manor was located on the edge of the Fens which meant it was afforded some defence by the swamps and wetlands that isolated it from the wider region.

 

The Bedingfeld family remained loyal supporters of the Tudors and fought for Henry VII at the Battle of Stoke Field (1487). In 1549 Henry Bedingfeld was instrumental in suppression of the 1549 rebellion led by Robert Kett. He went on to faithfully serve Mary I providing her with a guard of 140 horsemen to ensure her safety during an attempted coup by Lady Jane Grey. He later served on the Queen's Privy Council and as Constable of the Tower of London which included the responsibility for incarcerating the future Elizabeth I. However, when Mary died in 1558 and Elizabeth became Queen, the Bedingfeld family fortunes changed. They remained staunch Catholics resulting in their persecution by the authorities including heavy fines. This left the family in a perilous financial position and Oxburgh Hall was neglected.

 

During the Civil War, the then owner of Oxburgh, another Henry, supported the Royalist cause. He fought at Marston Moor (1644) and, after the war, was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Concurrently his property was raided by local Protestants and the south-east tower gutted by a fire.

 

Oxburgh Hall remained ruinous into the eighteenth century but thereafter efforts were made to restore it back into a high status residence. The damaged south-east tower was rebuilt in 1748. As part of a wider modernisation the south range, including the Great Hall, was demolished in 1775. Between 1830 and 1865 the remaining ranges were remodelled by the architect J.C Buckler and the south corridor was built over the site of the former Great Hall. Oxburgh Hall was used as a barracks for the King's Own Scottish Borderers during the early part of World War II and in 1952 it was gifted to the National Trust.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Allen, R (1976). English Castles. Batsford, London.

Bedingfield, H (1987). Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk: the first 500 years. National Trust, London.

Cooper, N (1999). Houses of the Gentry, 1480-1680. Yale University Press.

Creighton, O.H (2002). Castles and Landscapes: Power, Community and Fortification in Medieval England. Equinox, Bristol.

Douglas, D.C and Myers, A.R (ed) (1975). English Historical Documents Vol 4 (1327-1485). Routledge, London.

Douglas, D.C and Williams, C.H (ed) (1975). English Historical Documents Vol 5 (1485-1558). Routledge, London.

Emery, A (1996). Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Historic England (1991). Oxburgh Hall, List entry 1342586. Historic England, London.

King, C.D.J (1983). Castellarium anglicanum: an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Kraus International Publications.

Saltar, M (2001). The Castles of East Anglia. Folly Publications, Malvern.

Seward, D (1995). A Brief History of the Wars of the Roses. Robinson, London.

 

What's There?

Oxburgh Hall is a late fifteenth century manor house with later modifications. It is major tourist attraction in the care of the National Trust.

Oxburgh Hall Layout. Oxburgh Hall was arranged around a central courtyard with ranges on all sides. A wet moat surrounded the site. The layout is very similar to Baddesley Clinton (also in the care of the National Trust). Oxburgh was built from brick which, in the fifteenth century was relatively rare for such a large building and a clear indication of the status of its owner. Some stone was used for the window surrounds and the parapet.

Gatehouse. The impressive gatehouse has survived unaltered since its original construction in the late fifteenth century. It was originally fronted with a drawbridge but this was replaced with the bridge in 1710.

Priest Hole. The Bedingfelds were ardent Catholics even during the fiercely Protestant regime of Elizabeth I. They constructed this Priest hole at this time below the garderobe.

View from South-West. The south range, which originally incorporated the Great Hall, was demolished in 1775.

Corridor. The gap created by the demolition of the South Range was filled by an enclosed corridor in the 1830s.

Marian Hangings. These tapestries were worked by Mary, Queen of Scots. They were brought to Oxburgh when Sir Richard Bedingfeld (d. 1796) married Mary Browne of Cowdry.

Coat of Arms. The Bedingfield Coat of Arms adorns the courtyard side of the gatehouse.

Getting There

Oxburgh Hall is found at the south-west end of Oxborough village. The entrance to the estate is found off an unnamed road accessed from Oxborough Road/Swaffham Road. The site is well sign-posted and there is a dedicated car park for visitors.

Estate Entrace / Car Park

PE33 9BL

52.582507N 0.573692E

Oxburgh Hall

Oxborough Road, PE33 9PS

52.581328N 0.570133E