Costessey Hall


Location   Costessey
Year demolished   c.1918-20  
Reason   Damage from requisition during World War I  
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Anyone walking in the countryside who saw Costessey Hall would probably believe they had come across a fairytale castle such was its dramatic outline of turrets, chimneys and crenellations. Sadly, this vision was to fall as another victim of the extensive damage which wartime requisition often visited upon a house.

Costessey Manor was first awarded to the Earl of Richmond by William the Conquerer following the Battle of Hastings in 1066. In 1555 Queen Mary awarded Costessey Manor to Sir Henry Jernegan for his support in proclaiming her the rightful Queen of England in 1553. He left the original manor house on the north bank of the River Tud in Costessey Park and chose a site on the riverside on the south bank on which to build his new house.

Sir Henry built a fine Tudor H-plan residence and also commissioned a private chapel to be built a short distance from the main house. This house remained largely unchanged until the 1830's when Lord Stafford Jerningham employed J.C. Buckler to affect some radical alterations.

Between 1826-36 the original Tudor hall was incorporated into a much larger Gothic-style house which was dominated by a large keep. The new house extended almost to the water's edge and was a profusion of ornate and fanciful chimneys topped a collection gables, turrets and pinnacles. It was, in short, a folly - if a particularly fine one. Reputedly, the stables were designed by Sir John Soane.

The death of the last Lord Stafford Jerningham in 1913 marked the end of both the baronetcy and the family's occupation of Costessey Hall. The contents were auctioned as were both Halls. Costessey Hall then stood empty until the large house with extensive parkland was inevitably requisitioned by the War Office at the outbreak of the First World War. Unfortunately, with no resident owner to keep an eye on the fabric of the building, the regiments of infantry, cavalry and artillery stationed and trained there took their usual heavy toll. Shortly after the outbreak of peace in 1918 the now badly damaged house was demolished. As in the case with many of these demolitions, parts of Costessey Hall were re-used with a four-hundred-year old carved stone fireplace and oak linenfold panelling being re-used in nearby Hethersett Hall. The valuable stained glass was sold for £17,000 - approx. £600,000 today. Now only the belfry block remains, standing guard over the 18th fairway of the Costessey Park Golf Club.