An expansive Grade-I listed Suffolk house connected by a long colonnade to an extravagant early Tudor gatehouse is on the market for £1.85 million.

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Sheep farmer Sir John Croftes, who was master of the horse to Mary Tudor, once owned West Stow Hall in the village of West Stow near Bury St Edmunds.

The property is deemed unusual by the selling agents Bidwells (01223 841842, because of the disproportionate amount spent on purely display works (notably the gatehouse) relative to the size of the house.

It is thought it might have been used as a hunting lodge – small size and a high degree of decoration often are features of aristocratic hunting lodges.

West Stow remained in the Croftes’ family until 1670 when it was willed to Edward Progers, a groom of the bedchamber to Charles II. His descendents owned it until 1795 when it was exchanged with the Marquess Cornwallis of Culford Hall, the British general during the American War of Independence, for Little Saxham.

West Stow was part of the estate until 1934 when it was broken up into lots and sold at auction.

The owners, who describe it as ‘16th century Disney,’ are only the third family to have resided there since the Thirties and have been careful not to alter the property’s original features, including fireplaces and beams. One beam is believed to be the longest bressumer beam in Suffolk.

The eight-bedroom house also has an important wall painting, The Seven Ages of Man, dating from 1575.

There also is a linen room, library, two attic rooms and a two-bedroom staff cottage, walled garden and grounds with a stream.

‘The market this year has been short of substantial and interesting houses. However, this historic mansion fits the bill,’ says Jock Lloyd-Jones, chairman of Bidwells’ residential division.

‘Househunters looking for a well situated property near Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket will not be disappointed,’ adds Mr Lloyd-Jones.

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