Please note: This house does not offer free entry to Historic House members.
For alternative options please see other opening options.

Other opening

Overview

South Elmham Hall is a C13 former bishop's palace standing within a 4-acre moated site.

The C16 exterior of the Grade I-listed house hides a medieval hall, and traces of the bishop’s private chambers. Many features survive including probably the earliest domestic wall paintings in Suffolk. Tour includes a walk through the former deer park (shoes suitable for crossing fields required) to South Elmham Minister (once described as one of the most romantic and enigmatic ruins in England) and C11 chapel built to commemorate the site of a Saxon C7 minister. Garden includes a ruined gatehouse and grove of mature trees. The Hall is at the centre of a traditional mixed farm, which has won awards for conservation and wildlife management.

South Elmham Hall was at the centre of an ancient episcopal estate with the Bishops See of Elmham dating from the C7. 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 crenulate in 1387. Held by the Bishops until 1450 and the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

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 C19 it was home to the Stewards and managers of that estate. Recent work reveals more of the original C13 bishop’s palace than thought.


Opening
Opening

Visit by private tour only.

Find Us
Find us

From A143 turn off at the Homersfield sign along B1062. Do not go into Homersfield but take the next turning, sign-posted St Cross and South Elmham Hall, then follow those signs all the way to the farm via Hall Lane. (Approximately three miles from A143). From the A12 via Halesworth, take the Wissett Road and beyond Wissett through Rumburgh All Saints and St Margarets, South Elmham, take the first left after St Margaret’s Church at South Elmham Hall sign – approximately eight miles from Halesworth. Park in car park and report to Mr. Sanderson at Bateman's Barn 

South Elmham Hall is situated on the border between Norfolk and Suffolk approximately 25 miles south of Norwich, 20 miles east of Diss.

Forthcoming Tours

16 Jul 2020
2PM - 4PM | £20.00

24 Sep 2020
2PM - 4PM | £20.00

Tour Overview

Visitors will be given a tour of the grounds and garden, including the gatehouse ruin, the ground floor and first floor of the Hall. This is followed by afternoon tea. There follows a 15 to 20 minute guided walk across the fields to South Elmham Minster.

Tour duration

2 hours (for house tour and tea), or 3 hours including Minster walk.

Tour prices

£20.00 per person.

Refreshments

Tea/coffee and homemade cake. Group visits (£26.50 per person) include two-course lunch. We have a fully licensed bar with a range of beers, wines and spirits.

Access notes

Ground floor only, outside garden includes lawns and gravel paths.

Restrictions

No stilettos. Suitable footwear required if visiting Minster.


Opening
Opening

Visit by private tour only.

Find Us
Find us

From A143 turn off at the Homersfield sign along B1062. Do not go into Homersfield but take the next turning, sign-posted St Cross and South Elmham Hall, then follow those signs all the way to the farm via Hall Lane. (Approximately three miles from A143). From the A12 via Halesworth, take the Wissett Road and beyond Wissett through Rumburgh All Saints and St Margarets, South Elmham, take the first left after St Margaret’s Church at South Elmham Hall sign – approximately eight miles from Halesworth. Park in car park and report to Mr. Sanderson at Bateman's Barn 

South Elmham Hall is situated on the border between Norfolk and Suffolk approximately 25 miles south of Norwich, 20 miles east of Diss.

Other opening


South Elmham Hall's history and features

South Elmham Hall finds itself at the very centre of an ancient estate which was once a key player in East Anglia’s earliest map of Christianity.

South Elmham was the location of the episcopal estate, the Bishop’s See (Court) of Elmham, dating back to the 7th century.  Nothing exists from those earliest days, except a scattering of pottery on the settlement sites. The Vikings allegedly made sure of that with their plundering and burning of the East Anglian Minsters.

But the connection was strong and remained intact. In 1100, the then Norman Bishop of East Anglia, Herbert de Losinga, founded Norwich Cathedral and subsequently gifted South Elmham to the Priory of Norwich. And this is where the story of South Elmham’s Palace really begins.   

The first Bishop of Norwich appears to have been a fan of the South Elmham estate - he stocked its deer park well. For the wealthy medieval bishops, the principle attraction of South Elmham was its good hunting.

South Elmham Hall became a ‘des-res’ at the heart of a deer park. A Great Hall in which to hold court was built with chambers and a private chapel for the Bishop. And as the palace took shape in the 13th century with fine archways and stonework, this domestic building was adorned with lavish wall-paintings.

Read more about South Elmham Hall's history