Historic parkland and gardens of Giffords Hall.
Reasons for Designation
The historic parkland and gardens of Giffords Hall are registered at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* for the evolution of this historic parkland over at least eight centuries;
* as a well-preserved multi-period landscape park embellished with a late-C17 walled garden, all designed to emulate the prevailing tastes of the successive ages and provide an eminently suitable setting for a country house of distinction.
* the formal tree-lined avenues from the southwest and east, most likely of late-C17 or early-C18 design, are a delight to any visitor, and celebrate the high architectural quality of the Grade I-listed Hall;
* for the design interest of the late-C17 walled garden and rectangular canal, which when constructed were at the forefront of garden design, and for the enhancement of the walled garden by eminent landscape designer Peter Coats in the late C20;
* for the diversity of landscaped features, including fishponds and woodland walks, which have contributed to the sporting and recreational landscape of this country estate.
* together with the Grade I-listed Hall, and the Grade II-listed ruined Chapel of St Nicholas, dovecote, and walled garden, it forms a strong ensemble of designated heritage assets of historic significance.
The ruined chapel south of Giffords Hall was reputedly built by Richard Constable, who held the manor of Giffords Hall in 1216. The Hall gained its name from the Gifford family, owners from around the mid-C13 until around the mid-C14. A grant of free warren at the manor of ‘Giffardes’ was granted in 1378 to Sir Simon Burley, favourite of King Richard II. The Mannock family held the manor from 1428 after Philip Mannok, merchant of Suffolk, was appointed as a tax collector in Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Hertfordshire in 1425. The Mannocks undertook some rebuilding in the mid-C15, but the greater part of the present house was built between about 1490 and 1520, with some modernisation between around 1730 and 1740. The Mannock family died out in 1787 but various heirs assumed the Mannock name until the estate was sold around 1886. It was purchased in 1888 by J W Brittain, who carried out restorations and additions; further alterations and additions were made following its purchase by C G Brocklebank in 1934. A substantial red brick gatehouse stands on the south side and a great hall on the north.
Saxton’s survey of Suffolk in 1575 shows a deer park southeast of Polstead and southwest of Shelley and may represent a historic deer park at Giffords Hall. A walled garden was added to the southeast side of the Hall in the late C17 or early C18, with an orangery in its northwest corner, and terraces stepping down to the east to a long rectangular canal. The 1805 Ordnance Survey (OS) map shows the historic parkland, with a tree-lined avenue running northeast to the Hall from Withermarsh Green, another tree-lined avenue running west to the Hall from Marsh Road, parkland to the north and south of each avenue and woods to the northwest and north. The 1817 Enclosure Map provides more detail: the walled garden is shown southeast of the Hall, with a canted southwest corner and the rectangular-plan canal at its east end; at least four irregular-shaped ponds are shown northeast of the Hall; and a group of three connected ponds are shown north of the Hall, between two woods. The orangery in the northwest corner of the walled garden and the dovecote north of the walled garden are also shown.
The 1838 Tithe Map provides further detail for the walled garden, with two rectangular compartments occupying the west and central sections, and the rectangular canal occupying the east section. The accompanying Tithe record documents an ‘alder carr’ (carr meaning waterlogged wood) adjacent the three connecting ponds north of the Hall; this carr is later named ‘The Rookery’ on the 1885 OS map. Another carr is recorded south of the ruined chapel, to the west side of the pond, later named ‘Chapel Wood’ on the 1885 OS map (due to its close proximity to the Roman Catholic Chapel of St Edmund on Chapel Lane).
By the time of the 1885 Ordnance Survey map, the canal in the walled garden had been drained and infilled, and a round pool created in the northeast corner of the walled garden. Along the avenue from Withermarsh Green, two pairs of segmental passing places had been added, and a gate lodge was built inside the gate in the mid- to late C19. A gate lodge was added outside the east gate around 1910 and is shown on the 1924 OS map. North of the east avenue, a service entrance appears to have been introduced in the mid- to late C19, providing access to the service buildings north of the Hall (demolished in the C20).
A number of bothies and glasshouses were added to the walled garden in the late C19 and early C20. The 1885 OS map shows a lean-to bothy on the exterior side and a glasshouse on the interior side of the north wall. By the time of the 1904 OS map glasshouses had been added to the exterior and interior sides of the north wall, and another glasshouse added to the exterior side of the south wall. A detached glasshouse was erected north of the walled garden around 1940 (it does not appear in an aerial photograph of 1934 but does appear in a photograph taken in 1951). In the 1970s and 1980s the walled garden was redesigned in part by Peter Coats, a respected landscape designer, who introduced the borders flanking the east-west walk that descends from the house to the lowest terrace. His work included beds of topiary, grey and silver planting and box edging, and spider’s web painted timber pedestrian gates on the north and south walls inspired by C19 Chinese fret patterns.
South of the ruined chapel a tennis lawn was introduced in the early C20 and is shown on the 1927 OS map. This was later abandoned, and a hard tennis court was constructed northeast of the walled garden around 1993. A horse-riding arena was introduced north of the hall on the site of a demolished estate building in the late C20.
Historic parkland and gardens of Giffords Hall.
LOCATION: Giffords Hall is located northeast of Withermarsh Green (also known as Whitermarsh Green), approximately 2.5km northeast of Stoke-by-Nayland and 1.5km southwest of Shelley.
AREA: the area of assessment measures 68 hectares in area, and includes the stippled parkland and associated woods surrounding Giffords Hall identified on the 1904 Ordnance Survey map as ‘Gifford’s Hall Park’.
BOUNDARIES: the parkland is bounded to the east and south by country lanes (Marsh Road and Chapel Lane) and mature hedging. The southwest and east avenues are bounded by wrought-iron horizontal railings and wrought-iron gates. The northeast service road and fields are bounded by post-and-wire fencing.
LANDFORM: the land gently slopes downhill from west to east: from the southwest entrance from Withermarsh Green the altitude drops from 50m to 35m at the Hall, and gradually drops to 15m at the east gate. From the east side of the Hall there are uninterrupted views of the River Brett to the east, less than 1km distant.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES: the Hall has two main approaches, from the southwest from Withermarsh Green and from the east from Marsh Road, and a service road from the northeast from Marsh Road. The southwest entrance from Withermarsh Green has double-leaf wrought-iron gates and square-plan wrought-iron gate piers, flanked by wrought-iron vertical railings on a low red brick plinth wall. Inside the gate and to the north of the avenue, is a two-storey gate lodge, built in the mid- to late C19 and shown on the 1884 OS map (not listed). From the gate a tree-lined avenue extends northeast to Giffords Hall for approximately 700m; the tree-lined avenue is separated from the parkland to the northwest and southeast by wrought-iron horizontal railings. After around 300m, a service track diverts north-northeast away from the avenue to service buildings north of the Hall. From this point the avenue to the Hall sinks around 1m lower than its parallel tree-linked banks, and passes through a wrought-iron gate with wrought-iron gate posts. Just southwest of the Hall, the avenue turns east and runs between the Hall and ruined Chapel of St Nicholas, before turning north at the southwest corner of the walled garden to meet the gatehouse of the Hall.
The east entrance from Marsh Road has an early C20 gate lodge to the north side, and a recessed decorative gateway, likely erected in the mid- to late-C19. The decorative wrought-iron vehicular gates and pedestrian gate have pointed finials, three square-plan gate piers with chamfered corners and ball finials, flanked by pointed-finial railings over a low red-brick plinth wall. The railings bear the mark of a Glasgow foundry (not fully legible). From the east gate, a tree-lined avenue extends west for approximately 350m, past the south side of the walled garden, and at the southwest corner of the walled garden curves north for approximately 60m to meet the gatehouse. As with the southwest avenue, the trees are separated from the parkland to the north and south by horizontal wrought-iron railings.
At the junction of the southwest and east avenues at the southwest corner of the walled garden, a grass tree-lined avenue runs south along the east side of the ruined chapel towards the fishpond at Chapel Wood. The tree-lined avenue is separated from the parkland to the east by horizontal wrought-iron railings.
Approximately 150m north of the east avenue, a service entrance runs east-west and curves around the ponds northwest of the Hall to the service building north of the Hall. The service entrance, possibly introduced in the mid- to late C19 (on the 1885 OS), has simple round-arched wrought-iron railings and gates, and timber gate posts.
PRINCIPAL BUILDING: Giffords Hall is a historic Grade I listed building, mainly built between about 1490 and 1520, with some modernisation between around 1730 and 1740. It changed hands in 1888, after which it was restored and extended; further alterations and additions were made following its purchase by CG Brocklebank in 1934. A substantial red brick gatehouse stands on the south side and a great hall on the north.
OTHER BUILDINGS: the Grade II listed ruined Chapel of St Nicholas stands approximately 70m south of the hall. It is a flint building with a nave and chancel, reputedly built by Richard Constable who held the manor of Giffords Hall in 1216. The 1885 Ordnance Survey map records the ‘remains’ of the chapel.
A Grade II listed timber-framed and plastered dovecote stands around 70m northeast of the Hall and was likely constructed in the C16 or C17.
The southwest gate lodge, built in the mid- to late C19, is L-shaped on plan and two storeys in height, with a pitched plain-tiled roof, rough-rendered walls over a red brick plinth, and timber casement windows (not listed).
The east gate lodge, built around 1910, is a single-storey building with a pitched plain-tiled roof, red brick chimneystack and walls, hood mouldings to a pointed-arch door, and leaded windows (not listed).
The detached service building north of the Hall was built in the mid-C20, and is shown on the 1970 OS map (not listed).
East of the Hall and north of the walled garden, a detached glasshouse was erected around 1940, and bears the makers’ mark of ‘Wm Wood & Son Ltd, Taplow, Berks’ (not listed).
A single-storey water tank was constructed around 1915 within a clump of trees approximately 180m southwest of the hall. Hydraulic rams were also installed around the same time approximately 160m northeast of the Hall (now an irrigation pump).
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS: most of the gardens and pleasure grounds lie east of the Hall in the walled garden (discussed below). Elsewhere, there is a grass lawn to the south and west of the Hall. A horse-riding arena was constructed north of the hall in the late C20 on the site of a demolished estate building. A tennis lawn was created south of the ruined chapel in the early C20 (shown on the 1927 OS map and 1951 aerial photographs); in the late C20, a hard tennis court was constructed east of the dovecote and north of the walled garden.
THE PARK: ‘Gifford’s Hall Park’ is shown on the 1904 OS map with parkland north and south of the southwest and east avenues and north of the service road stippled grey (denoting historic parkland). The parkland is bounded to the northwest by Belvedere Wood, to the north by The Rookery, Snake Wood and Dogkennel Wood, and to the south by Chapel Wood. Mature specimen trees are dotted throughout the parkland, and four clumps of trees are shown in the parkland southwest of the Hall on the 1904 OS map.
There are a number of water features of unknown date. Around 150m north of the Hall, between the Rookery and Snake Wood are three connected fishponds, the east L-shaped pond being the largest of the three. It is likely this water feature was created in the late-C18 or early C19 to imitate a natural water feature and the 1904 OS map shows a boathouse on the south bank of the largest pond (no longer standing). The ponds flow southeast to the River Brett, and the 1927 OS shows ‘Hydraulic Rams’ in the south part of Dogkennel Wood (now an irrigation pump). Southwest of The Rookery, a ‘Pheasantry’ is shown on the 1904 and 1927 OS maps. South of the ruined chapel, a tree-lined grass avenue leads south to a fishpond at Chapel Wood (approx 250m south of the Hall), roughly rectangular on plan; a boat house is shown on its north bank on the 1885, 1904 and 1927 OS maps (no longer standing). Approximately 50m northeast of the Hall and north of the dovecote are a group of 3 small irregular-shaped ponds, likely medieval, around which the service road curves to the service building north of the Hall.
WALLED GARDEN: the walled garden southeast of the Hall (listed at Grade II) is rectangular on plan and measures approximately 85m x 60m. It is open at its northwest corner, and has a curved southwest corner (where the east avenue curves around it to the gatehouse of the Hall). The walled garden was constructed of red brick, probably in the late C17, with an early to mid-C18 orangery in the northwest corner. The orangery is a three-bay single-storey structure, constructed of red and gault brick, facing south to the interior of the garden. The north exterior elevation of the walled garden retains a number of garden bothies, built in the late C19 and early C20; these single-storey structures are constructed of red brick with a catslide slate roof sloping from the garden wall. South of the bothies, a late C20 spider’s-web timber door, designed by Peter Coats, provides access to the interior of the walled garden. The east exterior elevation of the walled garden is approximately 2.5m high and appears to show two phases of construction: the northern stretch, approximately 20m in length, has panelled sections separated by shallow buttresses over a coped brick plinth wall; the remaining 40m or so to the south has more substantial sloping buttresses which project from the wall and is probably earlier. The southeast corner has a large stone ball finial atop a red brick pier. The south elevation also has substantial sloping buttresses, and another late C20 spider’s-web gate by Peter Coats. A wrought-iron pedestrian gate outside the southwest corner of the walled garden provides access to the junction of the avenues in front of the gatehouse of the Hall.
Within the walled garden, the ground is terraced in three main sections of lawn, with a slope of approximately 5m between the west and central lawns. Along the north side of the walled garden, a gravel path runs west-east from the Hall descending to the lowest level at the round pool in the northeast corner; halfway along this path, a perpendicular path runs north-south. The east-west path, introduced in the 1970s and 1980s by Peter Coats is flanked by borders of box edging, topiary and grey and silver planting. The walled garden also has a perimeter path to its east and south sides, all with box edging. The eastmost section of the walled garden, separated from the central section by a yew hedge, previously contained a long rectangular-plan canal, the depression of which (around 1-1.5m deep) is still discernible. The canal was most probably constructed in the late C17, measuring around 50m x 10m, and is clearly shown on the 1838 Tithe map. The canal was drained / infilled in the mid- to late C19; a round pond was created in the northwest corner and shown on the 1885 OS map. A terrace walk on the east side of the former canal provides views over the parkland and countryside to the east and southeast.