Oxburgh Hall is a moated country house in Oxborough, Norfolk. Built around 1482 by Sir Edmund Bedingfeld, Oxburgh has always been a family home, not a fortress. The manor of Oxborough came to the Bedingfeld family by marriage before 1446, and the house has been continuously inhabited by them since their construction of it in 1482, the date of Edward Bedingfeld's licence to crenellate. A fine example of a late medieval, inward-facing great house, Oxburgh stands within a square moat about 75 metres on each side, and was originally enclosed; the hall range facing the gatehouse was pulled down in 1772 for Sir Richard Bedingfeld, providing a more open U-shaped house, with the open end of the U facing south. The entrance, reached by a three-arched bridge on the north side, is dramatised by a grand fortified gatehouse, evoking the owner's power and prestige, though as fortification its value is largely symbolic; it is flanked by tall polygonal towers rising in seven tiers, with symmetrical wings extending either side that reveal nothing on the exterior of their differing internal arrangements.
About 1835 the open end of the U was filled in with a picturesque, by no means archaeologically correct range that recreated the central courtyard. Other Victorian additions include the Flemish-style stepped gables, the massive southeast tower, the oriel windows overhanging the moat and terracotta chimneys. Four towers were added to the walled kitchen garden. The hall is well known for its priest hole. Due to the Catholic faith of the Bedingfeld family, a Catholic priest may have had to hide within the small disguised room in the event of a raid. The room is reached via a trapdoor, which when closed blends in with the tiled floor. Unlike many similar priest holes, the one at Oxburgh is open to visitors (when not in use).
The hall is also notable for the Oxburgh Hangings, needlework hangings by Mary, Queen of Scots and Bess of Hardwick. Mary worked on these while imprisoned in England, in the custody of the Earl of Shrewsbury. The Walled Garden today has two distinct areas: the vegetable garden and the orchard. Many heritage varieties of vegetables are grown each year in the kitchen garden to reflect the long history of providing food for the Hall. It supplies the tea-room with salad, vegetables, rhubarb, beetroot, potatoes and celeriac. Dominating the northern wall is the Victorian glasshouse, completely rebuilt in 2010 by volunteers and opened just in time to protect the tender plants for the winter. My Lady's Wood is an ornamental area of water and woodland created by the 6th Baronet for his wife, Margaret. It provided a tranquil semi-formal landscape with ornamental woodland, trees and shrubs, while the small bridges and summer-houses present attractive places to pause. Depending on the season you may hear robins, song thrushes, blackbirds, great-spotted woodpeckers, chiffchaffs and willow warblers. By the River Gadder look out for a water vole or even the occasional otter.
Mobility parking in main car park, 200 yards from the entrance. Adapted toilet in main courtyard, with access via a ramp. Ramped entrance into the hall. Manual wheelchairs are available. There are Sensory experiences. There is a virtual tour and Induction loop. Partly accessible grounds, grass and loose gravel paths, slopes. There is a Map of the accessible route. Care is necessary near the moat. The Chapel, 100 yards from hall, has access via a ramp. Exit from the house is via a brick spiral staircase so that the mobility impaired have to retrace their route. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Oxborough, near Swaffham, Norfolk, PE33 9PS
Transport: Downham Market (National Rail) then taxi. Bus Routes : No service.
Opening Times : Closed Thursdays, Otherwise 11:00 to 17:00
Tickets Whole Property: Adults £9.60; Children £4.80
Tickets Gardens Only: Adults £5.30; Children £2.65
Tel: 01366 328258