Swannington Hall's oldest elements date back more than half a millennium, yet successive generations have all left their mark, as Penny Churchill reports.
The exquisite Grade II*-listed Swannington Hall has come to the market in the timeless village of Swannington, 10 miles north-west of Norwich, 14 miles from Holt, and 17 miles from the north Norfolk coast at Cley-next-the-Sea. Ben Rivett of Savills is handling the sale, and quotes a guide price of £2.1m for the charming country house built of red brick, brick-and-flint with plain-tile gable roofs, which stands within an important medieval moated site, surrounded by beautifully deigned and maintained gardens and grounds.
Described in its listing details as ‘a moated manor house of the 15th century or earlier’, the earliest phase of the present hall is probably the south wing, which incorporates fabric of the late 15th century.
At the beginning of the 16th century, the hall was owned by the Richers family, but it is clear that when John Richers wrote his will in 1501, his family had already lived there for some time. His descendants remodelled the house to roughly its present configuration.
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Other notable occupants included the Bladwell family, who moved to Swannington when William Bladwell came into possession of Swannington Manor and the estates of Swannington Hall in about 1630. The east face of the north wing and the west face of the south wing were re-fronted around that time, whereas the west face of the north wing was re-fronted in the 19th century. At other times in its history, the hall was used as a farmhouse.
Swannington Hall was extensively renovated by the current custodians in 2000–01. Improvements included the installation of underfloor heating throughout the ground floor and the fitting of bespoke joinery such as new windows, cabinetry and library shelving.
The central hall showcases the house’s age with roll-moulded beams and a central fireplace dated by the Tudor arch and roses in the spandrels. Of particular note are the south-facing music room overlooking the gardens and the atmospheric dining room. Two staircases lead to the first floor and three principal bedrooms with bathrooms en suite; three more bedrooms are served by a family bathroom and a separate shower room.
At the opposite end of the building is an additional bedroom with a dressing room and shower room — ideal as a guest or staff annexe or somewhere to house noisy children.
The gardens have been transformed over the years with the help of award-winning landscape gardeners. Behind the house, immaculate south-facing lawns are framed by clipped holly topiary, parterre, well-stocked herbaceous beds and structural hedging, with paved and decorative brick-weave paths leading to bridges over the moat and beyond to delightful areas of woodland and some fine specimen trees.