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Raynham Hall in West Norfolk is the seat of the Marquesses Townshend.  Building was started here in 1619 by Sir Roger Townshend and his Master Mason, William Edge, and the house was modernised by William Kent a hundred years later for the second Viscount Townshend, and it is essentially that house that we still see.

Raynham is not generally open to the public, but the present Lord and Lady Townshend have created a Restoration Fund for individual projects and items in the collection, and open the house every year to a series of wonderful Recitals in the Marble Hall and for several Open Days in which you can have a tour of the house.

The gentleman-architect Sir Roger Pratt visited the hall after Sir Roger’s Townshend’s sudden death in 1637 and wrote: “Not long after it was built … I was some while in it while it had no ornament at all …. There was somewhat in it divine in the symmetry of proportion of length, height and breadth which was harmonious to the rational soul”.

Sir Nikolaus Pevsner – not often inclined to airing personal views – wrote that it “is the paramount house of its date in Norfolk. It is also, especially as seen from the west up the avenue, one of the most attractive of the major houses in the county, warm and comfortable-looking, in spite of its size. Moreover, it is not in a local style, but is a provincial hybrid introducing to the county the Classicism of Inigo Jones, himself at the start of his career”.

 

And lastly, John Julius, Viscount Norwich in The Architecture of Southern England neatly encapsulates what most visitors feel: “In all England there are few more beautiful houses than Raynham – and none, perhaps, that so perfectly exemplifies all that is best in English domestic architecture in the first half of the seventeenth century. Raynham is not palatial, there is a comfortable, homely feeling about it; it is a house designed not only to be admired, but also to be loved.”

By coming to the Recitals or an Open Day, you will be directly contributing to the Restoration Fund, to which everybody at Raynham is dedicated, and the fruits of which are already apparent all over the house.

Covid Good to Go