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Coordinates: 52°26′19″N 0°59′33″E / 52.4385°N 0.9924°E / 52.4385; 0.9924
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St Mary's church, Kenninghall
Kenninghall is located in Norfolk
Location within Norfolk
Area14.85 km2 (5.73 sq mi)
Population950 (2011 census)
• Density64/km2 (170/sq mi)
OS grid referenceTM034865
Civil parish
  • Kenninghall
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townNorwich
Postcode districtNR16
Dialling code01953
AmbulanceEast of England
UK Parliament
List of places
52°26′19″N 0°59′33″E / 52.4385°N 0.9924°E / 52.4385; 0.9924

Kenninghall is a village and civil parish in Norfolk, England, with an area of 5.73 sq mi (14.8 km2) and a population of 950 at the 2011 census.[1] It falls within the local government district of Breckland. Home to the kings of East Anglia, after the Norman invasion of 1066 William the Conqueror granted the estate to William of Albany and his heirs as a residence for the Chief Butler of England.

Origin of the name[edit]

It has been claimed that the name Kenninghall comes from the Saxon word Cyning (king) and Halla (palace), but this is debated, with other writers deriving it from the personal name "Cyna" and the Old English "hala", a clearing in the woods.[2] In maps of the Elizabethan period the house is shown as 'Keningal'.


Kenninghall village sign

In the reign of Henry VIII, the estate was granted to Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, who abandoned the ruins of older structures within an ancient moat and erected a new East Hall to the north of the Saxon site. The estate passed to Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk in 1524. The third Duke spent lavishly to build an entirely new, unfortified, palace of more than 70 rooms, richly furnished with tapestries and thousands of ounces of silver and gilt plate. The house, in the form of an “H,” had three main stories and, in addition to suites of rooms for Norfolk and his extended family, featured a two-story Great Hall, a formal dining chamber, a wainscoted chapel with two organs, and an indoor tennis court, probably similar to the Henrician one at Hampton Court. The estate was confiscated by the Crown when he was arrested on suspicion of treason. Kenninghall was inventoried by Sir John Gates, Sir Richard Southwell and Wymond Carewe in mid-December 1546, eventually resulting in three documents detailing the house and its contents, now preserved in the National Archives at Kew (LR 2/117, the initial inventory: LR 2/116, accounting for the distribution of the contents and the remains at Kenninghall; and LR 2/115, a final fair copy of the initial inventory). The house served as a residence for both of Henry VIII's daughters, Princess Mary and Princess Elizabeth, at different times during the reign of Edward VI. When Mary became Queen in 1553, she granted the estate to the 3rd Duke's grandson, Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk.

The 4th Duke held the estate until 1572, when he was attainted for high treason. Howard had been brought up a Protestant, but entered Roman Catholic plots (including the Northern Rebellion and the Ridolfi Plot) to depose Elizabeth I and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots, whom he planned to marry. The estate was seized by the Crown, and Queen Elizabeth often resided here. When she died in 1603, the house was demolished and the materials sold off. A two-story fragment, probably remains of the 2nd Duke’s work, still stands across the road from the Saxon moat, but nothing of the 3rd Duke’s palace survives.

Between 1727 and 1760, George II issued a charter declaring the inhabitants of Kenninghall exempt from serving in juries outside the parish, and from tolls at fairs across the kingdom.

St Mary's Church[edit]

The south porch is Transitional Norman. The royal arms of Queen Elizabeth has been moved from the tympanum of the chancel arch to a position in the north aisle. The royal arms of King Charles I is at the west end of the church.[3]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ Kenninghall Parish Council. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
  2. ^ Michael Friend Serpell: Kenninghall History and Saint Mary's Church (Kenninghall, Michael Friend Serpell, 1982) pp. 5–6
  3. ^ Betjeman, J. (ed.) (1968) Collins Pocket Guide to English Parish Churches: the South. London: Collins; p. 310
  4. ^ Cokayne, George Edward (1959). White, Geoffrey H. (ed.). The Complete Peerage. Vol. XII (Part II). London: St Catherine Press. p. 559.

External links[edit]