Cavenham Hall and Park
The first building was no doubt a timber framed dwelling possibly constructed during the Tudor times. The first pictorial indication of a house in Cavenham Park is found on a map of 1736 by John Kirby, with the area of land marked ‘Johnson Esq.’ While major buildings can be discerned on a 1779 and 1783 county map marked with the name of ‘Thomas Le Blanc Esq.’ By 1836 the buildings are clearly marked as a quad with hall attached to the south east corner, these buildings stand on approximately the same site as today’s stable quad and face a main entrance which runs south of today's pillared gates. An advertisement in the local press suggests though never clearly states (unfortunately the copying process has hidden half the advertisement) that any previous erection whether wood or brick was replaced with a Georgian Hall possibly built between 1801 and 1808 and these were built near the stable quad. (re 1836 map)
One of the earliest written documentation noting a Hall in Cavenham Park appears to be during the ownership of Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis. Earl Cornwallis resided at Culford but owned much of the land in Cavenham, he purchased the park from Le Blanc in 1794. The Earl offered the Hall to his daughter Mary Cornwallis who had, according to the local press, ‘a run away marriage’ with a Capt. Singleton from West Stow. A Release and Settlement document was issued in 1797 recording a sum of 10s for the lease of Cavenham Hall, properties and land. At the time of this exchange the total yearly rent due from the estate tenants was £543. 4s. The Release and Settlement document ensures both land and property remain within the family, descendants can not sell their inheritance.
The Hall and Park were advertised for sale in the local press in the December of 1808, the Manor and 2,100 acres were described as; ‘with offices of every description, court-yard, extensive gardens, pleasure gardens, plantations comprising 100 acres with 3 open field farms and valuable sheep walk’...‘to be sold by auction at Garraway’s Coffee-house, Change Alley’. Waddington Esq. of Ely paid £31,500 for the land and house and £3,800 for the timber. Little information can be found on Henry Waddington who bought the Hall in 1809 though the 1851 census noted 17 people staying at the Hall; Harry Waddington + wife, 2 daughters 2 visitors and 11 domestics. In 1864 the Hall passed to the son Henry Spencer Waddington who was High Sheriff. His son, Spencer Beauchamp Waddington in turn inherited the Hall and park in 1896.
A new mansion was erected in 1898/9 by Mr. H.E.M. Davies though, according to the official list of destroyed Suffolk halls and manors, no hall in Cavenham was destroyed between 1890 and 1949. Mr. Davies who employed the architect Mr. A.N. Prentist to design and build new entrance gates, lodge house, stable block, laundry and new Georgian style hall with shaped gables. The drawings were used by the German architect, Herman Muthesins, (Das English Haus) to demonstrate the English practice of not having many communicating doors and of siting doors near the corners of rooms. Muthesin described the mansion as ‘a large rambling building in a Georgian style with shaped gables thrown in for extra effect.’ The building work was considerable erecting new buildings at both entrances and in the centre of the park, unfortunately Mr. Davies did not see the completion of this massive project dying soon after building work began.
The architects’ drawing of the estate stable block shows the Cavenham Hall laundry to the left, the Lodge house in the foreground with the stables to the right and opposite, (clock tower just visible). The stable block and coachhouse which are linked by a Baroque entrance arch are now Listed Grade II.
This architectural drawing c.1901 by A.N. Prentice shows Park Gate Cottage. This was rented out in 1946 for £26.0s.0d. a year and sold into private ownership in 1994
After a brief period of ownership the widow, Mrs. Clotilde Davies sold the hall to Adolphe Goldschmidt who added to the structure and landscaped the park. His son Frank enhanced the village by building four architecturally distinct houses of red brick with pillars supporting their first storey projections. The existing village club was built at the same time and known as the ‘Reading Rooms’. Kelly’s directories show Adolphe Godschmidt as the sole landowner of the estate.
The estate remained unsold after an auction in 1918 HD 1325/63 Sale Particulars 1918 but was bought in 1921 by Brig-Gen. Archibald Fraser Home, author of The Diary of a 1st. World War Cavalry Officer. Under the Home’s the estate flourished, agricultural employment was high and signs of a well managed estate are well remembered by the local parishoners who recall the extensive walled gardens and fernery as an example of the care and attention lavished on the property and grounds. The estate and park were sold again in 1946 to Douglas Gough from Lackford. The auction papers of 1946 are the source of many existing photographs of the old Hall
Cavenham Hall sale was held by Harrods Ltd. of London on 30th September 1946 and lasted for two days. The sale particulars note the principle bedrooms contained 79 items that included:
“Mahogany dressing tables with beveled swing mirrors, 3 piece suite, oak writing tables, chesterfield settee, a pair of Indian carved hardwood octagonal top tables on dragon supports, a Rudolstadt group of 2 children 5” high, a glazed ware group “ seated child with kittens”, a gentleman’s crocodile leather dressing case with travel watch and silver mounted fittings, a pair of cut glass ship’s decanters, 40 pieces of plain table glasses, a 17th century Dutch inlaid walnut wood bureau secretaire, the upper part with numerous recesses and pigeon holes, drawers. “
In contrast the manservant's bedrooms each had a carpet, curtains, washstand, bedstead, wardrobe and one brass and iron fender.
There is a query over the date of demolition of the Hall, according to official documentation the Hall was demolished in 1949 though a previous parishioner recalls moving into Park Gates after her wedding in 1951 and clearly seeing the Hall still standing. The Hall fireplace was later removed and built into the kitchen of her home.
In the same year, 1951, the stable block was adapted from it’s previous roles as garages and store rooms into two bedroom flats with sitting rooms, kitchens and living rooms on the ground floor.
In 1958 Richard Gough inherited both Cavenham and Lackford estates from his father. His sister Diana now lives at Little Hall that replaced Cavenham Hall in Cavenham Park. The remains of the ice house can be found in Cavenham Park.
A Forest Heath District Council (Suffolk) Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Millennium Festival ©2000 Designed by ArtAtac