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Description: Little Wenham Castle
Date Listed: 22 February 1955
English Heritage Building ID: 278850
OS Grid Reference: TM0807739069
OS Grid Coordinates: 608077, 239069
Latitude/Longitude: 52.0110, 1.0306
There is also a scheduled monument, Wenham Castle (Little Wenham Hall), at the same location as this building or very close to it. This may be related in some way or possibly a different name for the same structure.
Explore more of the area around Wenham Parva, Suffolk at Explore Britain.
TM 03 NE LITTLE WENHAM CHURCH LANE (EAST SIDE)
Little Wenham Castle
22.2.55 sometime known as
Little Wenham Hall
Fortified House, now used as a private museum. Believed to be circa 1260-1290
for Sir John de Vallibus and Petronilla of Nerford who suceeded him circa 1287.
Later alterations include those of John Brewse circa 1569 (date over ground floor
door, west wall), a wing was added at the south west corner, it is believed
during C16, and has since been destroyed. Brothers Frederick and George Crisp
purchased the property circa 1884 and carried out repairs and restorations C19
and C20. Timber stairs to first floor west doorway added C20 by Major A T C
Binny. Of early vari-coloured brick, the base with flint, brick and septaria.
Stone dressings. C16 brick to west wall chimney stack above first floor level,
the stack offset, with octagonal shaft. C19 red brick and ashlar repairs. A
band continues through the building, below the first floor window cills,
excepting at the south west corner. Brick crenellation with moulded coping
throughout. L plan, the hall running north to south with stepped angle buttress
except to south west corner. The taller chapel range projects eastward at the
north end of the east wall and has stepped angle buttresses to north and eastern
angles. The stair turret at re-entrant angle, east wall, rises above the main
ranges. There is a low level buttress to east wall of the hall below the
window. Each face of each range has stone arrow slits below the crenellations.
There are narrow stone lights with square heads to stair turret. Second floor of
chapel range, ?solar/guardroom has a window to each external wall of 2 lights,
central shafts with moulded capitals and bases, plate tracery over, 2-centred
heads and labels. First floor chapel, east window of 3 lights, 3 quatrefoils
over, moulded 2-centred head and label, small lancet windows to north and south
walls and a low side window in north west corner. Ground floor chapel range,
lancets to the 3 external walls. Hall range:- Each face of the first floor has
a window of 2 trefoiled lights, centre shafts with moulded capitals and bases,
trefoils or quatrefoils over, 2-centred heads and labels. There is a doorway
with chamfered segmental head to west of south wall. The main entrance doorway
at south end of west wall, moulded 4-centred arch square head, sunk spandrels,
jambs with attached shafts, moulded capitals and bases. Hall range, ground
floor. 2 lancet windows to west wall. 2-centre arched doorway to west end of
south wall. Inserted doorway with square head to south end of west wall. Above
this doorway is a plaque inscribed "Cecy fait a l'aide de Dieu l'an de grace 1569
R.B." which was preserved when the added wing was demolished late C18.
Interior:- Ground floor, main range, 3 hollow chamfered rib vaulted bays,
polygonal responds with moulded capitals and bases. A 2-centre arched doorway,
with label, moulded capitals and bases to jambs, leads into the square ground
floor room of the chapel range, from the north east corner. This room of one bay
with similar vaulting and stone flag floor. Chamfered 2-centred arch to stair
turret doorway. First floor, main range, the hall is approx 40ft long. C16
timber ceiling of 4 cambered bay, moulded bridging and ceiling joists, moulded
cornice. Pammet tiled floor. Chamfered arches to window splays, labels over. A
window seat with moulded sides is cut into the centre of each window cill. Niche
to east of south wall, moulded and crenellated head, cusped and sub-cusped ogee
arch, trefoiled panels over, moulded bases to side shafts, plain cill with rear
drain hole. Fireplace to west wall, red brick angled back, timber mantel beam
with moulded soffit, moulded jambs. The fine entry to the chapel is to the north
of the east wall. The central doorway is flanked by 2-light windows. The
doorway with 2-centred arch of 2 sunk chamfered orders, moulded capitals and
splayed stops to jambs, moulded label with carved stops. Each side light sunk
chamfered of 2 two-centred lights, central polygonal shafts with moulded capitals
and bases, blank quatrefoils over. Moulded labels with stops. Segmental rear
arches to doorway and sidelights. Each side light has a shutter with two strap
hinges opening into the chapel. Pair of panelled doors to doorway. The vaulted
chapel ceiling has moulded arches and ribs on corbels. The 2 western corbels
moulded, the 2 eastern corbels carved with head stops and foliage. Carved
central boss depicting St Petronilla. The south wall low cill lancet forms a
sedile, the piscina with 2 double arches is set into the eastern splay, moulded,
trefoiled 2-centred arches, moulded capitals and bases to side and central
shafts. Stone flag floor. flanking the east window are small shelves. North
east of the north wall is an aumbry with 2-centred head and label with carved
stops, pair of C19/C20 doors with strap hinges. - C20 altar in front of east
window. Stair turret doorway to west of south wall, chamfered 2-centred arch.
The ?solar/guard room, above the chapel is approached by the spiral stairs, each
doorway off the stair turret is similar to the doorway, in the chapel, with board
doors and strap hinges. The solar has no outstanding features, ceiling with flat
section beams and stop chamfered principals. The spiral stairs continue onto the
roof which is cambered and lead covered. The house is of great importance as it
represents one of the earliest uses of home made brick in England and it was
built as a house, not a keep. The hall came to the Holbrooks & Debenhams, a
daughter of this family married Sir Thomas de Brewse circa 1440, John Brewse sold
to Joseph Thurston circa 1695 and Thomas Thurston parted with the estate 1765.
Sir Peyton Ventris was born here 1645. N Pevsner. Suffolk 1974. Whites
Directory of Suffolk 1844. P G M Dickinson. The Little Guide to Suffolk 1957.
E Sandon Suffolk Houses 1977.
Listing NGR: TM0807739069
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.