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South Elmham Hall

Once a bishop's palace, the moated house has the oldest known wall paintings in Suffolk.

Hall Lane, St Cross South Elmham, Harleston, Suffolk, IP20 0PY

South Elmham Hall in Suffolk

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History

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South Elmham Hall was at the centre of an ancient episcopal estate with the Bishops See of Elmham dating from the seventh century. The Vikings are said to have plundered and burned the East Anglian Minsters and nothing remains from the earliest settlement except pottery scatter. South Elmham Manor was gifted to the Priory of Norwich on the foundation of Norwich Cathedral in 1100 by the then Bishop Herbert de Losinga. Bishop Walter de Suffield is said to have ‘lived at South Elmham in great splendour’; Bishop Henry de Spencer had a licence to crenellate in 1387. Held by the Bishops until 1540 and the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

It was then acquired from Henry VIII by Edward (later to become) Lord North. The Norths remodelled the medieval palace into a hunting lodge; they in turn sold in 1617 when it became part of the Flixton estate. Later in the nineteenth century it was home to the stewards and managers of that estate. Recent work reveals more of the original thirteenth-century bishop’s palace than thought.

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