Discover this hidden foodie paradise...in the heart of the Suffolk countryside 

Afternoon tea at Nedging Hall

Nedging Hall recently held its first open garden event with afternoon tea. The venue is hoping to open offering more afternoon teas in its grounds over the summer - Credit: Sian Martin

It’s a clear, bright, early summer’s day. As I turn onto the tree-lined driveway of Nedging Hall, the morning’s light dapples through the windscreen. Dragonflies dance over the bonnet en route to the pond. Birdsong echoes in the woodlands. Suffolk Punch horses, including a new-born foal, roll in freshly mown grass across the way. 

‘Ahh,” I sigh as I step out onto the crunch of gravel, feeling like I’ve arrived in an early Disney animation (would there be singing bluebirds and squirrels around the corner?). 

I’m greeted by owner Charlie Buckle, and hospitality manager Matt Watts, who have one mission – to make Nedging Hall (near Bildeston) one of the foodiest places to stay in Suffolk. 

It’s no mean feat. There’s certainly stiff competition from all four corners of the county. But they’ve certainly set out their stall with solid foundations. 

Charlie Buckle (left) and Matt Watts at Nedging Hall

Charlie Buckle (left) and Matt Watts at Nedging Hall - Credit: Contributed

Nedging Hall

Nedging Hall - Credit: Katie Drouet

The farm, which runs to 5,000 acres, owns the hall and its 80 or so acres of private parkland, as well as The Lindsey Rose, The Bildeston Crown (run by chef patron Chris Lee and wife Hayley), Mauldons Brewery and its tap room, and a new wine merchant business. 

A group of dedicated farmers and gardeners crop barley and malt on the farm for the brewery, with spent grain going onto feed the Red Poll cattle at Lavenham Brook (which supplies the estate with beef and wine).  

A mushroom farm has just been planted within a centuries-old tree felled during storm Eunice. 

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And a walled garden and orchard supplies the kitchen, and its team of chefs, with enough fodder to make field to fork not just a vision, but a reality. 

Here, 15-year-old asparagus beds sit alongside root veg, berries, parsnips and salad leaves. Tomatoes climb in greenhouses. Nectarines, arranged as espalliers, nestle along the warmth of a south-west facing wall. 

Nedging Hall has plenty of quiet spaces for reflection

Nedging Hall has plenty of quiet spaces for reflection - Credit: Sian Martin

Nedging Hall rears some of its own livestock

Nedging Hall rears some of its own livestock - Credit: Katie Drouet

“We use as much as we possibly can from the estate itself,” says Matt, whose CV includes a stint at Fortnum & Mason, where he set up their tearoom, and at the Ivy Group, helping with its UK-wide domination. 

Matt and Charlie have been friends for many years – Matt chuckling that he used to babysit Charlie as a nipper. They worked together as pot washers ‘way back when’ at The Lindsey Rose – a pub they would later re-open to great success. 

The vision at Nedging? 

To offer completely bespoke, catered holidays using estate produce. Alongside open gardens with elegant afternoon teas, murder mystery parties and, hopefully, says Matt, some of the county’s most exciting and exclusive supper clubs. 

“We’ve talked a lot about this,” he reveals. “We want to offer something completely different. So guests would buy a ticket, but have a complete surprise on the night. We have lots of barns and outbuildings, so they wouldn’t know where it is or what’s on the menu.” 

It’s important to Charlie to see the house, which was first documented at the end of the War of the Roses, filled with people. It’s long been a family bolthole, and his grandmother (Gill Buckle, former president of the Suffolk Horse Society), he says, would want it to be alive with guests and activity. 

“My grandparents lived in the house, and then my dad as a child,” Charlie says. “My grandmother sadly passed away two years ago so we were looking at options for the house. It’s beautiful, but expensive to run. What we’re doing is letting it out as single occupancy, so a group of up to 30 people can use it exclusively.” 

The games room at Nedging Hall

The games room at Nedging Hall - Credit: Katie Drouet

The pool house at Nedging Hall

The pool house at Nedging Hall - Credit: Katie Drouet

And what a destination it is, boasting 11 bedrooms, a fully equipped modern kitchen, multi-aspect sitting rooms with fireplaces, a games room with full-sized billiards table, a pool and sauna, tennis court, and – best of all – full run of the grounds, which are stunning. 

The catering team can whip up a barbecue on the terrace. Prepare a picnic or sponge cake and tea to enjoy on the expansive lawns or under the festooned pergola. Create a tasting menu. A gourmet brunch. Or maybe a Champagne reception in the pebbled lower garden area by the pond, with its running stream, thousands of bulbs, and delightful planting scheme. 

“I really think the Nedging Hall gardens need to be seen to be believed,” says Matt as we walk the grounds, which were open to the public for the first time at the end of May. “Charlie’s granny kept thousands of daffodil bulbs. For years I lived in London and had never seen anything like the display here before. It’s just an incredible incredible place.” 

Afternoon tea selection at Nedging Hall

Afternoon tea selection at Nedging Hall - Credit: Katie Drouet

Afternoon tea cakes at Nedging Hall

Afternoon tea cakes at Nedging Hall - Credit: Katie Drouet

Afternoon tea at Nedging Hall

Afternoon tea at Nedging Hall - Credit: Katie Drouet

Matt points out a magnolia tree. The kitchen have been preserving its petals – apparently they taste like ginger. 

And he gestures towards a 700-year-old hollowed-out, weathered tree that wouldn’t look out of place in a Harry Potter film. It’s one of the last remaining of a plantation that once stretched to Whatfield Village Hall (whose own ancient tree fell 10 years ago).  

“It’s such a haven for wildlife,” he adds, pointing out a family of nesting jackdaws. 

Nearby, roses scent the air, winding around flag irises in formal plantings. 

“I love the fact everything is full circle here. That we are able to offer this gorgeous, perfect English getaway, with the ability to source food from within five miles. I think that’s quite unique actually. We really are about celebrating the best Suffolk has to offer, and this is such an exciting time for us. 

“You just have to watch this space!” 

To stay at Nedging Hall go to nedging-hall.co.uk 

And to find out more about upcoming afternoon tea and open garden events, or supper clubs, follow the hall on Instagram @nedginghall