If you like Beatrix Potter, you might just find Melford Hall to be right up your alley. Built in the 16th century, Melford Hall was originally held by abbots until the dissolution of the monasteries when it was granted to William Cordell. It was passed and sold within the Cordell family until 1786, when it was sold to Harry Parker, the son of Admiral Hyde Parker and became the seat of the Parker baronetcy. The home was passed to the National Trust in 1960. The family still occupies a wing and some of the gardens by lease.
Beatrix Potter was a much-loved cousin of the Parkers and visited often after 1890. She was said to have brought mice and other creatures with her that she painted as well as painting or making pen and ink drawings of the house and gardens, which are on display in a small outbuilding as well as within the house itself. There is also a model of Jemima Puddle-Duck that she gifted the Parker children on one of her visits.
Along with the artwork, you can tour the room where Beatrix Potter stayed as well as many other rooms in the home. There is a small garden to the rear of the house that is tended by the National Trust and open to visitors as well as a small lawn to one side where there is seating for the tea room and room for people to play croquet. The National Trust also provides picnic blankets and Beatrix Potter themed toys for children to enjoy on the lawn as well.
The house is lovely, though more modern in some ways than others. There are current photographs of the family around the house, which you don’t see in many of the other National Trust homes, and some of the furniture is more modern since family resided in many of the rooms toured until the ’60’s.
If you’re near Long Melford in Suffolk, Melford Hall is definitely worth a look–especially if you’re a Beatrix Potter fan.