The House from a circa 1921 postcard
Earlier Houses: There was an earlier house on, or near, the site of the current house.
Built / Designed For: John Woodehouse
House & Family History: John de Breccles was lord of the manor in 1276. The de Breccles male line had died out by 1469 and the estate was purchased by Sir Edward Woodehouse of Kimberley, whose grandson, John Woodhouse, built the E-shaped Breccles Hall. John's son, Francis, added the east façade in 1583. In 1599 Sir Richard Gardiner, Elizabeth I's chief justice in Ireland, purchased Breccles (the queen is known to have visited Breccles). In 1777 the estate was sold to Wormely Hethersett, alderman of Thetford, who made considerable alterations to the house. When Hethersett died without an heir, the estate passed by marriage to Philip Taylor, a surgeon from Norwich, who allowed Breccles Hall to deteriorate. In 1808 Taylor's only son committed suicide and the estate was sold to Matthew Kerrison from Bungay. During the Kerrison family's tenure Breccles was used as a farmhouse and was poorly cared for. In the early 20th century Charles Bateman-Hanbury inherited Breccles from his mother, who was Matthew Kerrison's granddaughter. Bateman-Hanbury spent time and money restoring the house, employing Detmar Blow to devise a program of restoration and renovation. Edwin Montagu, Liberal politician and minister for munitions, and later secretary of state for India, was the next owner of Breccles. Montagu employed Edwin Lutyens in 1917 to modernize the house and enlarge and redesign the gardens. During their ownership the Montagus entertained the great and good, with politicians, royalty, and the aristocracy regularly coming for long weekends. In 1952 Breccles was purchased by Ronald Archdale, whose family put the house and 50 acres of land up for sale for £1.5 million in 2003. A priest's hole still survives in Breccles Hall (the Woodehouses were recusants), along with a cartoon drawn by Rex Whistler on the wall of the Great Hall. Breccles was home to Prince Frederick Duleep Singh (1868-1926), son of the Maharaja of Lahore, the last king of the Sikh Nation. Prince Frederick was a fervent monarchist who presented his collection of Jacobite and Stuart relics to the Inverness Museum. He gave to the town of Thetford the timber-framed Ancient House (now a museum) and his collection of portraits. Breccles even had a locomotive, the Breccles Hall, named after it; the engine was part of the Great Western Railway's 4900 Class and was in service from 1942 until 1964. In 2007 Breccles Hall, together with 102 acres, was listed for sale for £3.25 million.
Garden & Outbuildings: The Breccles Hall garden is noted for its hybridization of Crocosmia. Winston Churchill loved the gardens at Breccles and used them as an inspiration for his own garden at Chartwell.
Country Life: XXVI, 670, 706 plan, 1909.
Title: Country Life (magazine)
Year Published: NA
Reference: July 10, 2003, pg. 94
Publisher: London: Future plc
Book Type: Magazine
Title: Burke's and Savills Guide to Country Houses, Volume III: East Anglia
Author: Kenworthy-Browne, John; Reid, Peter; Sayer, Michael; Watkin, David
Year Published: 1981
Reference: pg. 94
Publisher: London: Burke's Peerage
Book Type: Hardback
House Listed: Grade I
Park Listed: Grade II
Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSE: John de Breccles, 13th century; de Breccles family here until 1469. Sir Edward Woodehouse, 15th century. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: Sir Edward Woodehouse, 16th century; Francis Woodehouse, 16th century; Edward Woodehouse, late 17th century. Sir Richard Gardiner, 17th century. Wormely Hethersett, circa 1695-1709. Philip Taylor, 19th century. Matthew Kerrison, 19th century. Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, late 19th-early 20th centuries. Charles Bateman-Hanbury, early 20th century. Edwin Samuel Montagu, 1917-24; Montagu family here until 1948. Garnier family, 1940s-52. Maj. Ronald J. Archdale, 1952-2003.
Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust
Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home
House Open to Public: No
Historic Houses Member: No