Country houses for sale

A hall house in Suffolk that comes with plenty of space and a most-interesting name

Mockbeggars Hall can trace its name back to the 16th century, and has been substantially renovated by recent owners.

Last week saw the launch onto the market of one of Suffolk’s most intriguing country houses, the imposing Grade II*-listed Mockbeggars Hall — a secluded Jacobean mansion set on high ground to the south of the village of Claydon, with the A14 to the east and the valley of the River Gipping, a tributary of the Orwell, to the west.

Joint agents Jonathan Penn of Jackson-Stops in Ipswich and Georgie Veale of Knight Frank quote a guide price of £1.45 million for the handsome brick-built house, with its Elizabethan façade and striking Dutch gables, reputedly built in 1621 for the Aylmer family, with major alterations carried out in the late 19th or early 20th century. The house has been substantially improved in recent years by the present owners, who bought it in poor repair in 2016.

Mockbeggars Hall and its 3.72 acres of gardens and grounds.

According to 19th-century historian J. R. Green, the name Mockbeggars can be traced to the late 16th and early 17th centuries, ‘when there was much complaining in the rural districts because the nobles and gentry flocked up to London, leaving their country houses empty and neglected, so that where in former times there had been feasting for rich and poor alike, a beggar could not now get a crust of bread. To the houses thus deserted was given the nickname of “Mockbeggar Hall”’.

In his book The Norwich Road: An East Anglian Highway (1901), writer and illustrator Charles George Harper (1863–1943) describes Mockbeggars, Claydon, in the following terms: ‘Just before entering the village, an old mansion is glimpsed from the road, embowered in trees, a mansion which, on inquiry, the ingenious youth of Claydon declare to be “Mockbeggar Hall”. Claydon Hall is its true title, but the popular name has been handed down since many, many years, when the old house (not old then) long remained tenantless.

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Approached through a gate and down a private drive.

Like the many other places named “Mockbeggar”, it stands well within view of passing travellers and must have induced many a sturdy rogue and vagabond to trudge wearily up the long approach in search of alms, only to find the place deserted… Inhabited now, Claydon Hall is a handsome old house bearing the date 1635 on its Dutch-like gables. It will probably never lose its popular name.’ Although the date on the gables is 1621, the handsome old house is indeed still called Mockbeggars, although, according to local historians, it was known as the Old Hall in the late 1800s.

The interiors have been extensively modernised and renovated, but retain a period feel.

Approached via a long drive through electric gates, the hall stands in almost four acres of sheltered gardens and grounds that include a sunny private terrace and a newly built heated swimming pool and pool house. Beyond the terrace, an area of level lawn opens onto a parkland-style garden enclosed by mature trees, with an acre of paddock to the east. Set off the main drive, a large garage has capacity for eight cars and, above it, a studio flat, currently let on a rolling assured short-hold tenancy.

Even a modern kitchen isn’t complete without an Aga.

Having lost its two outer gables along the way, Mockbeggars Hall now offers 5,340sq ft of light, well-laid-out and manageable accommodation on three floors, including a high ceilinged central dining hall with further reception rooms beyond. The double-aspect drawing room has a feature fireplace, French doors opening onto the garden and planning consent for an orangery. Off the hallway, the library boasts carved oak panelling and wood boarded floors with an open fireplace. A new kitchen features bespoke cabinetry, an Aga, and modern ovens and appliances.

The gardens contain a pool and summer/poolhouse.

An outside newel staircase leads to the first and second floors and a total of eight bedrooms, most of which enjoy views over the gardens or the Gipping Valley. Available by separate negotiation, the two-bedroom Mockbeggars Cottage stands east of the hall with its own access and garden and is currently let on an assured short-hold tenancy.

Mockbeggars Hall is for sale with Jackson Stops and Knight Frank for £1.45 million. For more information and pictures, click here.

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