Melford Hall is a stately home in the village of Long Melford, Suffolk. It is the ancestral seat of the Parker Baronets. The hall was mostly constructed in the 16th century, incorporating parts of a medieval building held by the abbots of Bury St Edmunds which had been in use since before 1065. It has similar roots to nearby Kentwell Hall. It passed from the abbots during the Dissolution of the Monasteries and was later granted by Queen Mary to Sir William Cordell. From Cordell it passed via his sister to Thomas and Mary Savage before being sold back into another male Cordell line. During the Stour Valley Riots of 1642 the house was attacked and partially damaged by an anti-Catholic crowd.
Sir Harry Parker, 6th Baronet, purchased Melford Hall in 1786. He belonged to a distinguished naval family. From the Seven Years' War in the 1750s until WWII five generations fought, and died, at sea for their country. Vice-Admiral Sir Hyde Parker I, 5th Baronet, (1713-83), Sir Harry’s father, began his career as a merchant seaman. He joined the Royal Navy aged 24 and took his first command at the age of 29. In 1744, at the age of just 31, he sailed with Anson on his voyage around the world. Following the outbreak of the Seven Years' War in 1756, he was sent to the Indian Ocean. There he took part in the capture of Manila from the Spanish. He was promoted to rear-admiral in 1778. After naval victories against the French in the Caribbean, he returned home and engaged the Dutch fleet near the Dogger Bank in 1781. In the following year he was appointed to the East Indies command. In December 1782 Sir Hyde Parker set sail in H.M.S. Cato to take up a posting in Bombay. The Cato was never heard of again. It is thought to have sunk off the Maldives. Among those lost with Admiral Parker was his young grandson, who was serving with him as a midshipman.
Sir Harry’s brother was Admiral Sir Hyde Parker II (1739-1807) who made his name fighting in the American War of Independence. He was knighted for his part in the Hudson River campaign. In 1780 his ship, the Phoenix, was wrecked by a hurricane on the coast of Cuba. He and the crew managed to reach the shore safely. The prize money he won while serving in the West Indies during the 1790s made him a wealthy man. In 1801, at the age of 61, he commanded the British fleet during the bombardment of Copenhagen. His second-in-command was Horatio Nelson, who led the attack. At the height of the battle, he hoisted the flag to discontinue the action. Famously, Nelson ignored the order from his commander by raising his telescope to his blind eye and exclaiming, ‘I really do not see the signal’. He pressed on with the action and won victory against the Danish forces.
Sir Harry’s nephew was Vice-Admiral Hyde Parker III (1786-1854) who also served in the Napoleonic Wars and was appointed Senior Naval Lord in 1852. His son, Captain Hyde Parker (1824-54), commanded a steam warship in the Royal Navy, H.M.S. Firebrand. He was killed storming a Russian fort at Sulina in the Crimea in 1854. His grandson, Edmund Hyde Parker (1868-1951), who later became an Admiral, commanded the battleship H.M.S. Superb at the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Beatrix Potter was a cousin of the family and was a frequent visitor to the hall from the 1890s onwards. One wing of the hall was gutted by fire in February 1942 but rebuilt after World War II, retaining the external Tudor brickwork with 1950s interior design.
There are two steps to the entrance of building, but a rampis available. There is one wheelchair to loan. Adapted toilet on the ground floor of the house. A Large print guide is available. There is a Drop-off point at the front of the house. Stairlift to the upper floors of the house (only one user is allowed upstairs at one time, due to fire regulations). Gardens are mainly lawns and border but with gravel paths, some slopes and steps. Access to the Tudor banqueting house is difficult due to steps and slopes. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Long Melford, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 9AA
Transport: Sudbury (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 236 and 756 stop nearby (no Sunday service).
Opening Times : Wednesday to Sunday 12:00 to 17:00
Tickets Whole Property: Adults £7.50; Children £3.75
Tickets Gardens Only: Adults £3.70; Children £1.85
Tel: 01787 379228