Helmingham Hall

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Helmingham Hall
Helmingham Hall circa 1880.

Helmingham Hall is a moated manor house in Helmingham, Suffolk, England. It was begun by John Tollemache in 1480 and has been owned by the Tollemache family ever since. The house is built around a courtyard in typical late medieval/Tudor style.

The present Helmingham Hall may have been initially constructed in 1510 on the site of an earlier house called Creke Hall. The exterior was altered between 1745–1760, again in 1800 by John Nash, and in 1840. The original half-timbered walls have been concealed by brick and tiles.[1] The house retains two working drawbridges: they were originally operated with a windlass but in recent years this has been replaced by an electric motor.[2]

The house is not open to the public and Helmingham is best known for its fine garden, which is open on a regular basis. It is a semi-formal mixed garden with extensive borders, a rose garden, a knot garden, a parterre and an orchard. Beyond the garden there is a 400-acre (1.6 km2) park with herds of red and Fallow Deer. The Church of St Mary on the edge of the park has connections with the Tollemache family dating back to the Middle Ages.

Treasures of Helmingham[edit]

The Tollemaches of Helmingham own one of the only two English Orpharion viols.[3] Their instrument is dated 1580 and bears the label of John Rose, an English viol-maker of the 16th century. Four John Rose viols survive; the only one in private hands is that belonging to the Tollemache family. It is believed to have been made for Queen Elizabeth I who presented it to them during one of her visits to Suffolk.[4]

The "Tollemache lute manuscript" was acquired from the Helmingham Hall collections and sold by Sotheby's in 1965 to Robert Spencer.[5] It was written Henry Sampson.[6]


  1. ^ "Helmingham Hall". Pastscape. Retrieved 2011-07-03. 
  2. ^ Helmingham Hall
  3. ^ Gill, Donald (July 1960) "The orpharion and bandora." The Galpin Society Journal. Vol. 13.
  4. ^ Pringle, John (Oct. 1973) "The Founder of English Viol-Making." Vol. 6, No. 4, pp.501-511.
  5. ^ Journal of the Lute Society
  6. ^ Spencer, Robert (April 1975), Early Music periodical journal, Vol. 3, No. 2. Robert Spencer, who owns the so-called "Tollemache lute manuscript" presently. this manuscript maintains "Tollemache" in its common reference, despite the change of owner.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°10′18″N 1°11′43″E / 52.17154°N 1.19537°E / 52.17154; 1.19537