Origins of the Hall
Before going into family generational ownership for over 400 years, the building was first recorded as being owned by Judge Sir John Fortescue in 1448, who occupied the Hall back when it was just a single story Tudor Hall. He used what is now known as the Justice room as a courtroom for petty crimes that did not require the higher judicial powers of Ipswich or Colchester. He was there for six years before the Hall was purchased by John Timperley I in 1454, where it then stayed in the Timperley family name for some 266 years. Thomas Timperley inherited and rebuilt the house in the 1570s, adding the extended North & South wings and chamber construction, giving the Hall a typical 16th century style and the beginnings of the iconic building we see today.
In 1686 an unmarried Thomas Timperley IV left the estate to his eldest surviving first cousin Henry, who shortly afterwards married the daughter and heiress of Sir John Sparrow, Clerk of the Board of Greencloth and Cofferer to King James II, Susanna Sparrow. During their time at the Hall, Henry and Susanna built an impressive and ambitious oak stairway to their first floor apartments, which would later be altered and moved to the north wing where it remains today. The staircase now leads to a long corridor with an extravagant drawing room at the end remodelled by Henry and Susanna in the late 1600s. Referred to now as the Carolean room, this drawing room was proudly crowned with a stunning undercut plaster work ceiling of the highest London workmanship around 1685-1688, marked with Henry Timperley’s initials in each corner. This impressive work of art remains today as one of the only original 17th century plasterwork ceilings still in existence in Britain, and is one of the reasons the Hall is Grade 1 listed. Adjoining the Carolean drawing room was the Timperley’s stately bedroom which, together with the drawing room, is nowadays known to guests as our lavish Braganza suite, and a popular choice for brides to stay in the night before their wedding.
The Timperley’s were a staunch Roman Catholic family. Above the Braganza bedroom is an attic room with coved ceilings and a hidden priest hole, suggesting it served as Henry and Susanna’s secret chapel through the years following King Henry VIII breaking away from Rome and the Catholic Church. It is also believed that the powder room between the bedroom and drawing room at the heart of the Braganza suite may have also been used as a secret chapel, and there is a ‘bolt hole’ concealed in the walls of the Carolean drawing room. This was fairly common practice for the Timperley family (whom we have named one of our bedrooms after) during their occupancy at the Hall, as before Henry and Susanna, Nicholas Timperley had been suspected of hiding a priest in the house in 1610, which was later proven to be the case. In addition to this, an unusually wide Tudor chimney-breast to the north of the Hall containing a small window-opening suggests a breathing valve for yet another priest hiding place.
The Georgian Exterior
Henry and Susanna Timperley’s son Henry went on to eventually disperse and fritter away the Timperley family estate’s fortune before finally selling everything to Richard Powys in August 1720. During his time at the Hall, Richard Powys was responsible for a number of Georgian improvements to the building, including vertical sash windows all over the house and stucco work on the courtyard faces of the two wings. In the 1740s his son, also named Richard Powys, went on to give the central front of Hintlesham Hall the striking Georgian façade we know and love today. Thought to have been inspired by Boughton House in Northamptonshire, a building described as “perhaps the most French-looking 17th century house in England”, young Richard Powys gave the Hall a distinctly French feel by copying a popular trend of the time of putting up-to-date faces on medieval or Tudor timbered houses.
Front of Hall
After installing grandiose features to the exterior of the Hall such as the Ionic columns either side of the entrance with large Venetian window above, young Richard Powys embarked on an elaborate scheme to convert the single storey Tudor hall, with chamber over, into a tall ‘saloon’, occupying both storeys. His vision was to create a magnificent room for large and lavish family parties, which still exists today and is known as the Salon, still used for extravagant dinners, dancing, private parties and weddings. The saloon was fitted with a fine chimney-piece, the walls were panelled in pine to two-thirds of their height, and a tall mahogany door and arch stands at the end of the room leading to the elegant mahogany staircase which leads to the Carolean drawing room and Braganza suite. With the impressive door and entrance to the room still there today, the Salon is a popular room for wedding ceremonies as the bride walks down the wooden stairs from the Braganza bridal suite, and through the large mahogany doors of the Salon to walk down the aisle.
Richard Powys’ project to raise the ceiling for the saloon also enabled him to create a high ceilinged and stately dining room on the ground floor, which today is known as the striking pine-panelled Parlour. In doing this restructure of the Hall, he had cut off access between the North and South wings of the house, so he built long corridors across the ground and first floors. These corridors are now known as the Orangery and Long Gallery, both beautiful and elegant spaces regularly used for drinks receptions and finger buffets.
The Hall was given a new range of stables in the late 17th century. These early-Georgian buildings contained an old cobbled way and an arch for horse and carriages to pass under, which today is the entrance to Hintlesham Hall’s luxurious onsite Spa. The rest of the old stables have been converted and are now used as bedrooms, known as the Courtyard accommodation wing, featuring an original clock-mechanism from the late 1600s above the entrance.
In 1747 Richard Powsy’s widow sold the estate to Richard Lloyd, a successful political lawyer and patron of famous English portrait and landscape artist Thomas Gainsborough. In 1753 Gainsborough famously walked to the Hall from Ipswich to paint the Lloyd children, and these are now displayed in the National Gallery. The Lloyd family resided at the Hall until the beginning of the 20th century, which marked the end of the generational family ownership years and the end of an era for Hintlesham Hall.
Twentieth-Century Owners of the Hall
Sir Gerald Hemmington Ryan purchased and lived at the Hall with his family from 1909 until his death in 1937.
In the months following, inventor Anthony Stokes and his brother Richard, who also owned a family engineering company called Ransomes & Rapier in Ipswich, bought Hintlesham Hall together. The Hall was perfect for their wide range of needs, with the central part of the house remodelled as trading rooms for their company, the right-hand wing used by Richard for his political connections, and the left-hand wing used as bedrooms and nurseries for the family. The Hall was also ideal for use as a hospital and convalescent house in the 2nd World War, when the Stokes family decided to move into a cottage on the estate so the Red Cross could use the Hall. The Long Gallery that leads to the Braganza suite was used as a ward, while the Salon was used as a room for large public meetings, and today’s lounges were used as surgery rooms, nurse dining rooms, wards and storage spaces.
Lounge & Garden Room
During his time at the Hall, Anthony Stokes became known in the press as The Suffolk Eccentric and fondly thought of as a likeable and generous man. Shortly after returning to the Hall after the war, he established an annual summer event called Hintlesham Festival, which grew to become a popular and internationally renowned music, dance and acting festival to raise money for charities and showcase new young talent. The stage was set up in the private back garden area by the lake, the Long Gallery was used as an exhibition space and numerous floodlit sculptures were displayed across the grounds. Hintlesham Festival ran for 20 years from its launch in 1951 up until Anthony passed away in 1970. Following his death the estate was sold to a local farmer, who only a year later sold it on again, to famous food and cookery writer Robert Carrier.
New York born Robert Carrier, who had already established himself as a renowned cookery writer for high end magazines before purchasing the Hall in 1971, opened Hintlesham Hall to the public as a small hotel with 5 suites and restaurant. He ran exclusive cookery weekends for friends, famously opened a cookery school at the Hall, and filmed hit TV cookery programmes in one of the suites. During his 13 years here he spent well over half a million pounds on the building’s restoration and maintenance, including reroofing, rewiring and redecorating. A team of 60 workers helped him to install hefty iron bracing to support the structure of the South wing walls and the famous plasterwork ceiling in the Carolean, which was starting to sag. Thanks to this restoration work the South wing was saved from collapsing and still stands today. He also bought a further seven acres of land and the Gatekeeper’s House at the entrance to the estate, created the herb garden and achieved a Michelin star for the restaurant he had established at the Hall.
In 1984 Robert Carrier moved back to London and the Hall was sold with 18 acres of land to Ruth and David Watson, who expanded and renovated the building to transform it into a fully functioning four star luxury hotel. All rooms throughout the building were restored and turned into guest bedrooms, even the attics and North wing first floor spaces that had been neglected and untouched since the Victorian times. A new reception and offices were added to the building, along with a kitchen block intended to help uphold the Hall’s reputation of superb cuisine. After a major fire, Ruth and David also restored and extended the stable block, transforming it into the Courtyard block of bedrooms we still have today. Her time at Hintlesham Hall gave Ruth Watson the desire to save vulnerable buildings, which she later turned into a TV career presenting programmes such as ‘The Hotel Inspector’.
In 1990 David Allan purchased the Hall and golf club. He put a management team in place at the Hall and created the award-winning golf clubhouse in 1991. Retaining ownership of the golf clubhouse, he sold the Hall to Dee Ludlow in 2003, who successfully enhanced its reputation for fine dining and status as a famous Suffolk country retreat. She also undertook a project to refurbish all of the hotel’s bathrooms, which has helped to create that luxurious feel guests experience when they stay at the Hall.
The current owner, Has Modi, is a businessman and entrepreneur from Milton Keynes and one of the original Board of investors. In 2012 he took sole ownership of the Hall and established the management team we have today. Renovation and refurbishments have been taking place throughout his time here, ensuring Hintlesham Hall remains the magnificent country house hotel it is known to be.