Stately home Shrubland Hall placed on Heritage at Risk register

Shrubland Hall has been added to the Heritage at Risk register

Shrubland Hall has been added to the Heritage at Risk register - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown/Archant

One of Suffolk's most spectacular stately homes, Georgian mansion Shrubland Hall, has been placed on Historic England's Heritage at Risk register.

The 18th-century property between Barham and Coddenham, to the north-west of Ipswich, is among 26 sites in the East of England added to the latest list.

The move follows years of concern over the condition of the hall,  which was formerly an exclusive health resort and appeared in the James Bond film Thunderball.

Part of the grounds of Shrubland Hall, near Coddenham. 

Part of the grounds of Shrubland Hall, near Coddenham. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown/Archant

The site was targeted by vandals during restoration work earlier this year, with a window being smashed and period decorations being damaged.

As well as the hall itself, a number of features in the grounds have been added to the register separately, including screen walling, balustrading, grand stairs and grottoes and the upper gun terrace.

Other buildings added to the new Heritage at Risk register include the Church of St John the Baptist in Badingham and St Peter's Church in Sibton. Meanwhile, buildings including the Unitarian Meeting House in Ipswich have come off the list after being saved.

Dr Muhammad Farmer bought Shrubland Hall for more than £6m in 2009, and later launched a luxury hotel there, Shrubland Royale, but it closed in 2016, less than a year after opening.

In 2019 he said he he was in talks with experts to find a viable future for the site, including a possible Hilton hotel franchise. 

A spokesperson for Historic England said: “Historic England have been involved in discussions about the future of Shrubland Hall for some time. We last visited in July 2021 to look at the condition of the Grade II* listed Hall and the five Grade II* listed garden structures.

"The ‘at risk’ Grade I registered landscape is also a concern because of the continued deterioration of the formal garden buildings, features and planting. The differing management regimes across the wider historic parkland and woodland are also contributing to the problem.

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"The whole site is divided across multiple owners, which adds to the complexity of trying to find the right solution. At present, we are actively engaged with Mid Suffolk District Council and the owner to resolve some of the issues and are currently discussing the next course of action.”

John Whitehead, Mid Suffolk councillor for Claydon and Barham is concerned about the condition of the building and grounds.

He said: "I welcome Historic England’s recent involvement in this long-running issue.  My view is that ownership of a property such as Shrubland Hall is a privilege that comes with real responsibilities.  

"The owner, as a custodian of a national, listed heritage asset, should take those responsibilities very seriously and always act accordingly and our council remains committed to working with him, and Historic England, to help ensure he does this."   

Andrew MacPherson, acting chairman of the Coddenham Community Response Group, said the group had contacted the parish council and local district councillors about Shrubland, following concerns from local residents about its condition.

"It has been a concern for the community. We are very pleased to hear that Historic England are working with the owners."

He added: "During the last 18 months, people have gone for more walks locally and have become more aware of what a fantastic building it is, and its condition has caused a great deal of anxiety." 

A Mid Suffolk District Council spokesperson said: “Our council fully supports Historic England’s decision to add Shrubland Hall and its main associated garden structures to their Heritage at Risk Register – helping safeguard this much-loved historic site for future generations to enjoy.

“This complements our ongoing work with Historic England and the hall’s owner, Dr Farmer, as we seek to address concerns about the listed buildings and registered gardens, whilst recognising that any works which are sympathetic to existing craftmanship and materials will be costly – and must therefore be given a realistic timeframe.”

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