- Heritage Category:
- Park and Garden
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Breckland (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- TF 76605 12832
A late C18 landscape park with C19 additions, containing surviving elements of an early C18 formal layout.
The construction of Narford Hall was begun in June 1702 by Sir Andrew Fountaine, who settled in Norfolk in 1690. Sir Andrew died in 1706 and construction was completed under the direction of his son, another Andrew. Knighted in 1699, he was Vice-Chamberlain to the Prince of Wales and successor to Isaac Newton at the Royal Mint. As a well-established and well-connected collector of works of art, the formal gardens he laid out around the house in the early C18, depicted on a plan by Colen Campbell in 1725 and a series of drawings by Edmund Prideaux of the same period, appear to have been at the forefront of fashion. The geometric layout included groves, walks, and avenues decorated with classical details, the main south avenue extending out of the gardens for c 1.75km to a terminal classical arch. Sir Andrew Fountaine died in 1758 and the formal landscape was gradually deformalised over the course of the C18. By 1789 the Hall was surrounded by a small park which replaced the formal pleasure grounds although the northern basin and canal and the southern avenue were retained. In c 1830 another Andrew Fountaine made substantial enlargements to the Hall and added a stable courtyard to the north-east. In the same decade James Grigor visited the site, noting in his Eastern Arboretum (1841) the range of tree species surviving from the formal landscape and recording that the lake, 'already of great extent' was 'now being enlarged'. By 1891 (OS) the lake, known as Narford Lake, covered c 18ha and the park had been extended to the west. The Fountaine family continued to live at Narford into the C20 and the park remained heavily treed until at least 1946. Since that time parts have been put under the plough and some trees have been lost. The site remains (1999) in private ownership.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING Narford Hall lies in a rural part of west Norfolk, to the north of the A47 Swaffham to King's Lynn road, c 7.5km north-west of Swaffham. The site here registered covers c 118ha and is almost entirely enclosed by plantations, being open to the surrounding farmland only along the southern end of the eastern boundary. A minor country road runs from north-east to south-west, cutting the park in half, the Hall, stables, and lake lying to the north of this road. The ground at Narford is virtually level with a slight slope downwards to the north towards the course of the River Nar which runs along the northern boundary, backed by the extensive Bradmoor Plantation. The main early C18 southern vista to Eyetrap Plantation survives.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES Narford Hall is entered from the north end of the eastern boundary, past the mid C19 stable courtyard which lies c 120m to the north-east of the Hall, the drive sweeping south-west to arrive at the south front, the entrance court being adorned with a C19 replica of an early C18 sundial (listed grade II). Two southern entrances off the dividing country road, shown on the 1891 OS map to the south-west and south-east of the Hall, no longer survive.
PRINCIPAL BUILDING Narford Hall (listed grade I) is a large country mansion built to an irregular plan of carstone with ashlar dressings under a slate roof. The original block, built in c 1702 for Andrew Fountaine of Salle (qv), lies to the south-west and is mainly of two storeys with a seven-bay facade. The large north-east section which includes a stone tower porch with cupola was added by another Andrew Fountaine in the 1830s. Running east and connected to the north-east wing is an ashlar clock tower surmounted by an arcaded cupola and the remains of a seven-bay orangery of large casement windows beneath semicircular aches (listed grade II along with the connecting walls).
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS The only ornamental garden area is a small border running along the west front, as shown by aerial photographs taken in 1989. The bays of the orangery form the south and west boundaries of a walled enclosure, open along the eastern boundary, the interior being laid to grass.
PARK The park at Narford lies mainly to the west and south of the Hall. To the north is the substantial Narford Lake, created in the mid C19 and incorporating at its south-east end the remains of the early C18 northern canal, spanned by an ornamental bridge. The disused medieval flint church of St Mary (listed grade II*) lies c 200m to the north-west of the Hall. To the west of the Hall the park is partly grazed and partly ploughed with some surviving mature woodland blocks and plantations. To the south of the Hall, beyond the country road, much of the park is ploughed although some woodland blocks survive. Few of the lines of the early C18 formal layout can be discerned although the principal axial view southwards, running c 1.5km from the Hall, survives. No longer terminating in a classical arch (which survived until at least 1797 according to Faden's map) the view now ends in a semicircular woodland called Eyetrap Plantation planted by 1891 (OS).
KITCHEN GARDEN The walled kitchen garden lies c 200m to the north of the Hall. A range of glasshouses along the north wall survived into the late C20 (aerial photograph 1974) but by 1989 (aerial photograph) only one remained although the garden continued to be cultivated for vegetable production.
Colen Campbell, Vitruvius Britannicus (1725) N Pevsner, The Buildings of England: North-west and South Norfolk (1962), pp 265/6 Architectural History 7, (1964), pp 79/80 J Kenworthy-Browne et al, Burke's and Savills Guide to Country Houses III, (1981), pp 161/2 J Garden History 11, (1991), nos 1 and 2, pp 80(2 T Williamson, The archaeology of the landscape park, BAR Brit Ser 268 (1998), p 266
Maps Colen Campbell, Plan of Narford Hall and grounds (published in Vitruvius Britannicus 1725) W Faden, A new topographical map of the county of Norfolk, 1797 (Norfolk Record Office) A Bryant, Map of the county of Norfolk, 1826 (Norfolk Record Office)
OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1891 3rd edition published 1929 OS 25" to 1 mile: 2nd edition published 1905
Archival items Aerial photographs (Norfolk Aerial Survey Collection)
Description written: October 1999 Register Inspector: EMP Edited: March 2001
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
- Parks and Gardens
This garden or other land is registered under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 within the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens by Historic England for its special historic interest.
End of official listing