Kentwell Hall could be best home

A RESTORED Tudor manor house which sits in 120 acres of Suffolk countryside has made it through to the final of a national hunt for Britain's best home.

Laurence Cawley

A RESTORED Tudor manor house which sits in 120 acres of Suffolk countryside has made it through to the final of a national hunt for Britain's best home.

Kentwell Hall in Long Melford was acquired by Patrick Phillips in 1971 after it had lain vacant for more than a year.

Mr Phillips and his wife Judith were selected as contestants for Channel Five's “I Own Britain's Best Home” and the couple have now learned their labour-of-love Tudor mansion has made it through to the final.

To help pay for upkeep, the 500-year-old Kentwell Hall, which has its own moat and 12-acres of land, opens most of its doors to the public from April until October.

Visitors are able to watch bread, cheese, milk, ale and herbal remedies being made on site.

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As well as catering for weddings, parties and business events, they also stage Tudor re-enactments where even the bins are removed to fit in with the time period. And about 16,000 school children descend on the house each year to learn about a bygone way of life.

Speaking about the house's success in reaching the final of “I Own Britain's Best Home” Mrs Phillips said: “We are really very excited. There's no where in the world I would rather live so in my eyes we already have Britain's best home. But an Englishman's home is his castle, so everybody in the final will feel the same way as I do.”

She told how she was beginning to think they had not made it through to the final round because they had been told they would receive a visit from Channel Five sometime between 1pm and 3pm on Thursday.

Nobody came until they saw a car heading up their long driveway at 2.59pm. It was only then that they learned they were still in the running.

“I had given up and thought we had not made it through,” Mrs Phillips said. “Then they suddenly turned up in the courtyard with a film crew. I don't know whether or not they planned it that way or not.”

Kentwell Hall will take on seven other of the country's most desirable residences in the final round of the show. Mrs Phillips will not know all of the finalists until a later date when all of the qualifying round episodes have been aired.

The winner of the show will receive �20,000 from the programme's makers to donate towards their chosen charity.

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