Henham Park is an estate just north of the village of Blythburgh in the English county of Suffolk. It lies at the intersection of the A12 and A145 main roads. The current owner is the Australian nobleman Keith Rous, sixth Earl of Stradbroke.
The park is the venue for the Latitude Festival of arts and music and plays host to other events throughout the year.
The original Henham lands were hunting grounds, the seat of the de la Poles Earls of Suffolk, on which they built a timber-framed structure was built with its own protective moatyard.
In 1513, King Henry VIII ordered the execution of Edmund de la Pole, and granted the property to his brother-in-law Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk. He built a new Tudor house 200 yards (180 m) in front of the original timber-framed structure. One of the finest Tudor buildings of its age, the main hall was flanked on two sides by the extensive walled garden and incorporated a large courtyard.
On his death in 1545, the Crown granted Henham to Sir Arthur Hopton of Blythburgh who immediately sold the estate to Sir Anthony Rous, Knight of Dennington (Suffolk). In 1773, while the Sixth Baronet John Rous was away on a Grand Tour of Venice, a drunken butler had a mishap with a candle, which destroyed the building. The £30,000 loss represented eight year's income from the estate, and the substantial blow meant that it was to be twenty years before he could afford to rebuild.
In 1790 Sir John, later the first Earl of Stradbroke, commissioned James Wyatt to build a new hall, 100 yards (91 m) in front of the second hall, with accompanying parkland design by Humphrey Repton. An impressive structure, in 1858 Augusta Bonham wife of the Second Earl instructed architect Edward Barry to give it a Victorian gloss; the work was carried out by Lucas Brothers.
This hall was demolished by the fourth Earl of Stradbroke in 1953, despite attempts by his brother, later the fifth Earl, to keep the house intact. One wall remains to this day and features a frieze depicting a Native American fighting a bear.
The fourth Earl died in 1983 with his brother becoming the fifth Earl for only four days before also passing away. Robert Keith Rous – at that time a businessman and sheep grazier in Australia – then inherited Henham and became the sixth Earl of Stradbroke. This was, however, not without difficulty and a protracted court battle led to a family feud that still separates the Rous family to this day.
Events and other uses
The estate hosts the Latitude Music Festival, Wings and Wheels and Grand Henham Steam Rally as well as remaining a working farm. There is a brewery and bed and breakfast accommodation located on the site as well as a series of walking trails.
- Alan Mackley (March 2000). "Henham Hall - a lost house". BlythWeb.co.uk. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
- Charles Thomas Lucas at Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- Wings and Wheels. Retrieved 2009-09-03.
- Hektors Brewery. Retrieved 2009-09-03.
- Henham Park Online. Retrieved 2009-09-03.