Kentwell Hall re-opens gardens for May Day

A procession walks through the grounds of Kentwell Hall Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A procession walks through the grounds of Kentwell Hall in 2019 - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Suffolk’s Kentwell Hall will be opening its doors and inviting people to step back in time and join the ‘Tudors’ as they celebrate the arrival of spring in the gardens of the historic moated manor house.

Kentwell Hall, near Bury St Edmunds, is well known for its popular period re-enactments and their Tudor May Day Festival will take place between May 1-3 (11am-5pm).

Kentwell Hall's grounds in the spring

Kentwell Hall's grounds in the spring. The gardens will be open for the May Day weekend - Credit: Barry Pullen/iWitness

May Day was always the most popular festival of the year. Visitors will be able to see the choosing of a May Queen and raise the May tree; join in the garlanding, processions and dancing and watch traditional plays, all accompanied by authentic, live music.

There are acres of gardens to explore, abundant and alive with spring bulbs and blossom everywhere. On the farm, see the lambs in the paddocks and meet the miniature Shetland ponies.

All activities continue whatever the weather so visitors are urged to dress appropriately. Pathways can become a little muddy but this is great news for younger visitors, as it means there are puddles galore.

Lily and Isabella enjoy the May celebrations at Kentwell Hall Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Lily and Isabella enjoy the May celebrations at Kentwell Hall in 2019 - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown


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The 16th century house and 15th century moat house will not be open (due to the virus) but will provide an atmospheric backdrop to the weekend’s revels.  Their beauty and the usually still waters of the moats, disturbed only by fish and fowl, set the tone.  

With a 1,000-year-old oak tree standing guard by the lawn, visitors experience a strong sense of the past, as the gardens have developed over six centuries. There's a sense of fun too; from the sculpted tree and courtyard maze to the yew castle and varied topiary.  

Tudor characters bringing Kentwell Hall to life Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Tudor characters bringing Kentwell Hall to life in 2019 - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

As numbers will be limited it is essential that visits are booked in advance (up to 10.30am on the day of your visit) and arrive at any time from opening at 11am until last entry at 2pm. The Tudor May Day Festival closes at 5pm.

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It will not be possible to buy tickets at the gate. Tickets are priced at adults £17.95; seniors £17; children 5-15 £13.50; family £61 (2+2) under 4s free.

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