A two-storey brick ruin surrounded by trees that soar above it.
Repaired Drayton Lodge, Drayton Lodge Park, Drayton, Norfolk. View from south west. © Historic England, DP300945. Photographed by Patricia Payne
Repaired Drayton Lodge, Drayton Lodge Park, Drayton, Norfolk. View from south west. © Historic England, DP300945. Photographed by Patricia Payne

Saved: 15th-Century Drayton Lodge in Norfolk with Shakespeare Connection

Historic Grade II* listed scheduled monument Drayton Lodge in Norfolk has been saved thanks to collaborative efforts by Historic England and Hidden Talents Homes.

Built by Sir John Fastolf in 1437, Drayton Lodge was added to the Heritage at Risk Register in 1998, in need of structural help to save it from collapse.

Vital repairs to an important historic remain

Historic England grant funded £11,000 for the repair of the scheduled monument and then worked in partnership with local developers, Hidden Talents Homes, to repair the building and ensure the future protection of this important historic remain.

Work carried out included the replacement of brickwork to the wall faces and other decayed areas. The brickwork around the base of the walls was in poor condition.

Existing bricks were used where possible and new bricks were specially commissioned from Bulmer Brick and Tile Company Ltd of Sudbury, Suffolk to match the original historic bricks.

Vulnerable sections of the structure were reconstructed with hidden stainless-steel pins and straps for additional support. Vegetation was removed from the walls and the wall tops were repaired to protect them from weathering.

Conservation collaboration

Historic England collaborated on this conservation project with Hidden Talents Homes who are creating new homes in and around the Drayton estate, including feature townhouses and the restoration of the later 1914 Drayton Old Lodge into luxury apartments.

The ruin of the original Drayton Lodge had survived in the grounds of Drayton Old Lodge as a garden building and folly.

The 15th-century Drayton Lodge is one of the earliest brick structures in the region.

It was important that the building was restored so that people living on the estate and enjoying the local landscape could appreciate its historic significance. 

New information boards, created by the Paston Society, tell the story of the lodge and its famous creator.

Created by a distinguished soldier who served three monarchs

Drayton Lodge was built by Sir John Fastolf and was completed in 1437.

As a soldier, Fastolf had served three English Kings – Henry IV, V and VI – and fought with distinction in the Hundred Years’ War. He invested much of his wealth in English estates.

His name was immortalised in William Shakespeare’s character of Sir John Falstaff, although his character differed greatly from that of his literary counterpart.

Drayton Lodge is an early example of the use of brick construction in England and is contemporary with Sir John Fastolf’s larger creation of Caister Castle near Great Yarmouth.

The lodge has been described as a ‘plaisance’ (pleasure ground), a hunting lodge or a strategic lookout post. It was probably originally conceived as a small fortified manor.

Constructed of soft, pale red brick, it now stands to two storeys. Evidence suggests that it was originally built to three storeys and also shows traces of a large fireplace in the west wall, a garderobe (private room) and a staircase.

After Fastolf’s death in 1459, Drayton Lodge was acquired by the Paston family, one of the most influential families in East Anglia. In April 1465, the Duke of Suffolk, who had previously contested Fastolf’s ownership of the land at Drayton, began to assert claims to the manors of Drayton and nearby Hellesdon, by legal means and then later by force. As a result, Drayton Lodge was left in ruins.

Later, it was possibly used as a shelter for warreners and shepherds. By the 18th century it was thought to be a recently built decorative folly.