‘We were trailblazers’ – Kentwell Hall celebrates 40 years of Tudor reenactments

Tudor Eastertide at Kentwell Hall in 2014. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Tudor Eastertide at Kentwell Hall in 2014. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Archant

An iconic stately home in west Suffolk is celebrating its 40th anniversary of historical reenactments this year.

Kentwell Hall has seen thousands of visitors since it began its historical reenactments. Picture: KE

Kentwell Hall has seen thousands of visitors since it began its historical reenactments. Picture: KENTWELL HALL - Credit: Archant

Kentwell Hall, in Long Melford, is the originator of Tudor recreations and thousands of people from across the country and beyond have visited to enjoy its depictions of 16th-century life since 1978.

From humble beginnings, the recreations put the grand Suffolk house on the map as an attraction and events these days see the entire house and estate transformed with up to 250 volunteer reenactors involved.

Patrick Phillips, Kentwell owner, said the recreations were unheard of 40 years ago and were not initially to everyone’s liking.

“Who would have thought way back in the late 1970s that we’d still being doing our historical recreations?” he said.

This year's Eastertide event at Kentwell Hall. Picture: KENTWELL HALL

This year's Eastertide event at Kentwell Hall. Picture: KENTWELL HALL - Credit: Archant

“When we started domestic living history it was then unheard of. We were trailblazers and had an immediate response from schools.

“Some criticised us for Disney-ing a historic house, yet after a number of years other venues followed suit.

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“Now there is scarcely an attraction in the country that does not occasionally have a few costumed people as guides or re-enactors - it’s all quite commonplace.”

The Tudor recreations at Kentwell started primarily for schools and the events have attracted more than half a million schoolchildren from as far afield as Japan.

Kentwell Hall's 2018 Eastertide event. Picture: KENTWELL HALL

Kentwell Hall's 2018 Eastertide event. Picture: KENTWELL HALL - Credit: Archant

Anyone at primary or middle school in the region during the 1980s or 1990s will likely remember trips to Kentwell and the venue is keen for people to share their old snaps or mementoes of visits.

Mr Phillips said: “We’d love all those who once visited whether during a school visit or with their family to return to see Kentwell now and bring with them pictures of themselves and other mementoes of their visit.”

The next major event at Kentwell Hall is the Tudor May Day celebrations from Saturday, May 5, to Monday, May 7.

The house will hold traditional May Day celebrations – music, dancing, plays and processions with more than 100 costumed Tudors alongside a range of other activities.

People can share old photographs via social media on Kentwell Hall’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/KentwellHall/ (post dated 18 March - “Who remembers visiting with schools”)

For further information on events and booking details, visit www.kentwell.co.uk

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