Historic home restored to former glory

AN HISTORIC country house is being returned to its former glory at huge cost, using the skills of local craftspeople.Yaxley Hall, near Eye, dates back to the Elizabethan era and was purchased five years ago by Dominic Richards, an entrepreneur with a background in art and architecture.

By David Green

AN HISTORIC country house is being returned to its former glory at huge cost, using the skills of local craftspeople.

Yaxley Hall, near Eye, dates back to the Elizabethan era and was purchased five years ago by Dominic Richards, an entrepreneur with a background in art and architecture.

He has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds refurbishing the hall and also has plans to reinstate its former wings, at a further cost expected to be in the region of half a million pounds.


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Mr Richards, 40, gave up his home in London to move to Suffolk to improve his quality of life and restoration of the hall has become a labour of love.

He was subsequently joined by his partner, Peter Ede, a former City lawyer, who was also looking to change his lifestyle.

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A large Gothic window, removed when the building was undergoing “improvements” 100 years ago has just been recreated by Simon Pryke, of nearby Wickham Skeith, and re-installed.

Rooms have been restored and refurbished, some with their original lime plaster and brick floors, and all the work has been carried out by craftspeople living within a 10-mile radius.

Over the next six years there are plans to rebuild the former wings of the hall - demolished following a fire in 1922 which was blamed on an Italian waiter.

Mr Richards said he had fallen in love with Yaxley Hall, set in nine acres of gardens and woodland, after visiting it in on a winter's day in 2001.

“I made an offer within a week and had moved up here within three months.

“While the house was structurally sound, a lot of the period features were no longer present. Concrete covered most of the ground floors and the house needed a lot of work to get it back to its original character.

“My heart has tended to rule my head because I've sold off three good properties in London in order to finance the restoration and refurbishment,” he said.

The Yaxley and Leeke families were the greatest influence on the shape of the hall - in the 16th and 18th Centuries.

Last century the house passed into the ownership of the Henniker family and became the home in the 1970s of the late modernist architect, Sir Basil Spence, whose own “improvement” work included the replacement of a vaulted brick ceiling with a moulded plaster version.

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