Oxburgh Hall was built in 1482 by Sir Edmund Bedingfeld and despite its castle-like appearance was home to the Bedingfeld family. It is a neat bit of Medieval and Tudor architecture with the ornate chimneys and towers.
It has a moat, which was not for defensive purposes, but was a statement of the family’s affluence at the time the house was built. The Bedingfelds were indeed affluent and well-connected as Henry VII and his Queen Elizabeth of York stayed in the home. There are bedrooms dedicated to each, but the National Trust even states that it is unlikely they stayed in those actual rooms.
On the outside, Oxborough is Tudor architecture on the outside, but much of the inside was redecorated during the Victorian era by the 6th Baronet, Sir Henry Paston-Bedingfeld.
In 1950, the 9th Baronet, Sir Edmund, was forced to sell Oxburgh Hall and the adjoining land at auction to a property developer who wanted to demolish the house and build 70 houses on the acreage. The contents of the house were even sold. At the last minute, three female family members, Sybil, Lady Bedingfeld, Violet Hartcup and Mrs Greathead banded together to save Oxburgh by selling their own homes in order to raise the money to buy the house back from the developer. They then turned it over to the National Trust.
Oxburgh Hall is an interesting home. The downstairs is completely at odds with the upper floors where they have a more medieval decor. There are costumes that are handmade using the old techniques that are in the upper “King and Queens” rooms as well as beds from that era.
The beds have to be the shortest beds I have ever seen. The gentleman who was the guide for the “King’s Room” seemed to enjoy telling us how the people of the 16th century slept sitting up and so there was no need for a longer bed. Apparently, one didn’t lay on one’s back until they were dead lest the body believe it was dead and the soul escape.
Another attraction to this home was what they call “The Priest’s hole”. The Bedingfeld family remained catholic when England persecuted Catholics, so they had a trap door, where the priest could hide. The trap door was within a cupboard, so someone would cover it after the priest went down. Guests are allowed to actually go into the hole where you are in a small room (and I use the term room generously). My three children and I fit, but there wasn’t much room after that. I was also eager to get out of that cramped space once I was inside. When you emerge from the “Priest’s Hole,” you receive a sticker that says “I have been in the Priest’s hole at Oxburgh.”
The grounds at Oxburgh are lovely and the moat only adds to the beauty of the area. The water for the moat comes from the nearby River Gadder and there are systems that shunt the water where it needs to go. In fact, the bricks of Oxburgh have been in the water for so long that they require it. They would crumble if they were allowed to dry.
While at Oxburgh, be sure to see the tapestries made by Mary Queen of Scots and Bess of Hardwick. These amazing pieces were what she worked on while in the custody of the Earl of Shrewsbury.
I apologize for some of the dark shots for the interiors. The lighting is often dark for photography and you are not allowed to use flash to preserve the artwork and fabrics. This home was harder to photograph than others that I’ve seen so far.
There is also an old chapel on the grounds which is lovely and set back in the trees. It also has an amazing altarpiece.
The weekend after we went to Oxburgh, my hard drive crashed and we took a quick trip to Cambridge to have it repaired. I only mention the trip because it was my first and I am eager to see the sites there, but just not during the summer! One of the locals explained that the local colleges have language schools during the summer and the weekend was horribly busy. I would like to say I’ve been back, but the last time I managed to get to Cambridge, it was raining.
Oh well! Eventually!
Next up…Wicken Fen. It has nothing to do with Wiccan (despite what my husband thought!) LOL!