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West Stow Hall


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The History of West Stow Hall

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Legend has it that West Stow Hall was built by Sir John Croftes,
'Master of the Horse to Mary Tudor', Dowager Queen of France and Duchess of Suffolk,
and that he had her coat of arms placed over the door to the gatehouse by way of a compliment to her.
Sir John was a substantial sheep farmer (flockmaster) who rebuilt his family’s existing manor house called Jinneys in around 1520. In 1526 he leased the remainder of West Stow from the Abbot of Bury St Edmunds and in 1540 after the dissolution of the Abbey purchased the same from the Crown for £497.

While some historians have suggested that the Hall was built by the last Abbot, it is clear from the documentary evidence that Sir John, and his grandson were responsible for its construction.

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The highly decorative brick gatehouse was built circa 1530.
It may be that the entrance facade was added to a pre-existing structure.
In the chamber overlooking the entrance is a wall-painting, known as the 'Four Ages of Man',
thought to date from circa 1575. Traces of paint elsewhere in the room would suggest that the whole room may originally have been painted.

Originally the gatehouse was an independent building from the house. It was connected to the Hall by a colonnade built by Sir John’s grandson.

The house was originally surrounded by a moat which was filled in by 1840.
The moat was bridged by the gatehouse and passed through the two arches underneath it.

The tops of the arches on the southern side can be seen in the shrub border.