DiCamillo Companion

Woolverstone Hall (Wolverstone Park) (Woolverston Park)

  • Earlier Houses: There was an earlier Tudor house on the site of today's stableblock.

    Built / Designed For: William Berners

    House & Family History: The stone and gray brick Woolverstone Hall remained in the Berners family until 1937, when the house and the 6,000-acre estate was sold to the University of Oxford's Nuffield Trust for £185,000. During World War II the house was requisitioned by the government for war service, during which time it was occupied by the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, the Liverpool Scottish Regiment, and the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers. In 1942 the Royal Navy took over and used the house and park for naval training, culminating with the departure of 40 landing craft from Woolverstone on June 5, 1944 headed toward the Normandy beaches. In 1947 the now-defunct London County Council leased the house and 56 acres and reopened the whole as the London Nautical School. In 1959 the school was rebranded as Woolverstone Hall School, a secondary grammar boarding school for London boys. The school closed in 1990; in 1992 the house reopened as Ipswich High School, a co-educational private school.

    Comments: Woolverstone is considered the best of Johnson's extant country houses.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: In 1793 Charles Berners Sr. erected an obelisk in memory of his father, William, at the huge cost of £2,000 (approximately £2 million in 2020 inflation adjusted values using the labour value commodity index). The 96-foot-tall column was topped by a hollow globe that represented the sun, complete with gilded rays. The globe supposedly contained a wooden staircase that enabled visitors to make their way top of the sphere and take in the view through peepholes. In July of 1943, during war-time occupation, the obelisk was accidentally damaged by fire and the remains were demolished via explosives soon thereafter. Though Woolverstone's obelisk has been lost, a very similar sun-topped obelisk can be seen today at Stourhead (see "Images" section).

  • Architect: Robert Mylne

    Date: 1791-93
    Designed: Obelisk in memory of his father, William Berners (destroyed 1943)

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    Architect: Thomas Hopper

    Date: 1823
    Designed: Additions and alterations for Charles Berners Jr.

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    Architect: John Johnson

    Date: 1776
    Designed: House for William Berners

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  • Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - HARDBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 2008
    Reference: pgs. 542, 580, 726
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 9780300125085
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Burke's & Savills Guide to Country Houses, Volume III: East Anglia
    Author: Kenworthy-Browne, John; Reid, Peter; Sayer, Michael; Watkin, David
    Year Published: 1981
    Reference: pgs. 269-270
    Publisher: London: Burke's Peerage
    ISBN: 0850110351
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Not Listed

  • Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: William Berners, 1776-83; Charles Berners Sr., 1783-1815; Charles Berners Jr., 1815-31; Henry Denny Berners, 1831-52; John Berners, 1852-86; The Rev. Hugh Berners, 1886-91; Charles Hugh Berners, 1891-1919; Berners family here until 1937.

    Current Ownership Type: School

    Primary Current Ownership Use: School

    Ownership Details: Today Ipswich High School

  • House Open to Public: No

    Phone: 01473-201-058

    Email: [email protected]

    Website: https://www.ipswichhighschool.co.uk

    Historic Houses Member: No