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New visitor experience at Norfolk's Oxburgh Hall

PUBLISHED: 07:02 27 June 2019 | UPDATED: 07:54 27 June 2019

Swans at Oxburgh Hall, Oxborough  Picture: Ian Burt

Swans at Oxburgh Hall, Oxborough Picture: Ian Burt

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A £6m revamp of a stately home will include a new visitor experience.

The scene after a window collapsed at Oxburgh Hall in 2016   
Picture: Antony KellyThe scene after a window collapsed at Oxburgh Hall in 2016 Picture: Antony Kelly

The National Trust is set to start work on repairs to Oxburgh Hall, a 15th Century moated manor house near Swaffham.

A survey carried out after a dormer window collapsed in August 2016 led to "serious concerns" over the condition of parts of the building.

The two-year project will include repairs to its roof, windows and chimneys to safeguard the property's future and protect the collection housed inside.

Whilst work is under way, the team at Oxburgh Hall will also be presenting new opportunities for visitors to experience the house, as well as share more about the project.

Experts examine a dormer window frame at the hall  Picture: Antony KellyExperts examine a dormer window frame at the hall Picture: Antony Kelly

Funded by a £132,900 lottery grant, a new gatehouse experience called Endurance will be created featuring the history of the hall, while displays within the house will also be refreshed.

Work on the roof is due to start early next year, once specially-designed scaffolding has been put in place.

Engineers have had to overcome the added complication that the 500-year-old building is surrounded by a moat.

Support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund will also enable repairs to the gatehouse façade, roof and chimneys to take place along with new research, which will be shared with visitors, students and heritage trainees.

Lynsey Coombs with tapestries at Oxburgh  Hall Picture: Ian BurtLynsey Coombs with tapestries at Oxburgh Hall Picture: Ian Burt

General manager Russell Clement said: "We're thrilled to announce the incredible transformation we're about to undertake at Oxburgh, with a programme of conservation that will see this special place protected for generations to come.

"It's only through the support of our members, visitors and donors that we are able to fund this work and it goes to show just how important Oxburgh is to so many people.

"We're extremely grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund and our supporters for recognising Oxburgh's potential, as one of the nation's treasured places.

"The project opens up the opportunity to engage new visitors and those that love to visit Oxburgh time and time again, through experiences, volunteering, community projects and conservation skills days."

Oxburgh Hall seen from across the fields  Picture: National Trust Images/Chris LaceyOxburgh Hall seen from across the fields Picture: National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

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House manager Lynsey Coombs said the project would offer visitors new ways to experience the story of Oxburgh Hall.

Brief history of a hall

House Manager Lynsey Coombs taking a tea break in the sunshine at Oxburgh Hall. Picture: Ian BurtHouse Manager Lynsey Coombs taking a tea break in the sunshine at Oxburgh Hall. Picture: Ian Burt

Oxburgh Hall was built in 1482 by Sir Edmund Bedingfeld, whose descendants still live in part of the property.

Its King's and Queen's Rooms was named after a visit by Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York, in 1498.

One notable feature is its priest hole by the staunchly Catholic Bedingfelds to enable visiting clergy to hide away in the event of a raid by the Protestant Elizabeth I's forces during the 16th Century.

House Manager Lynsey Coombs preparing the new tapestry to be hung in the King's Room at Oxburgh Hall. Picture: Ian BurtHouse Manager Lynsey Coombs preparing the new tapestry to be hung in the King's Room at Oxburgh Hall. Picture: Ian Burt

During the Civil War (1642 - 1651), the Bedingfelds fought with the Royalists, who lost out to the Parliamentarians.

Oxburgh was ransacked and partly burnt down, leaving the family facing losses of more than £47,000.

By the time the Monarchy was restored in 1660, the house was uninhabitable.

In the 1680s, restoration began. The house's ups and downs mirrored those of its owners until it was sold to an insurance company in 1951.

Soon after, family members bought back the hall which was given to the National Trust in 1952.



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