Heveningham Hall, Suffolk

The Venneck family purchased the Estate in the mid 18th century from the Bence family. Sir Robert Taylor designed the majority of house in 1778 for Sir Gerard Vanneck, a wealthy Dutch merchant. James Wyatt completed interiors by 1784 after dismissal of Taylor. Sir Joshua Vanneck, 3rd Baronet, was made 1st Lord Huntingfield in the Peerage of Ireland. The Vanneck family owned the House until 1970, when it was turned over to the Department of the Environment (later English Heritage), in poor condition, in lieu of death duties. During the 1970s Heveningham was open to the public and administered by The National Trust, though the Trust refused to take ownership of the House without a proper endowment. After no solution to public ownership was found, the House was closed to the public and the original furnishings (owned by English Heritage) were lent to Heaton Hall in Manchester. In 1981 Heveningham was sold to an Iraqi businessman. Repair and conversion work were under way when, in 1984, an extensive fire damaged the East Wing. Restoration of this damage was incomplete in 1991 when the owner died. In 1994 the House and park were purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Jon Hunt for family use. Robert Adam Architects were employed for the renovation and alteration of the house, the design of new outbuildings and architectural elements in the park. In addition, the landscape architect Kim Wilkie was employed to restore and continue the design of the incomplete Capability Brown landscape. The state rooms are being restored, while minor changes are being made to the secondary rooms; upper floors will provide modern family accommodation.

Lionel Esher has called James Wyatt’s Vaulted Hall "the most beautiful room in England". Wyatt’s work at Heveningham is among his most significant. The length of the House, twenty-five bays, far surpasses the ordinary and contributes to the ranking of Heveningham as one of the most important country houses in Britain.

Back to 'The Descent of Hughes'