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The History of Bruisyard Hall – a Suffolk Legacy

Bruisyard Hall is a beautiful piece of Suffolk history that you can make your own – at least for the length of your visit.  From large weddings in the barn to conferences or a huge family Christmas in the stunning Hall, there’s much to do and a rich history to discover – as well as great wi-fi, secure parking and luxury accommodation.

The Rous claim

When Teresa and Robert Rous inherited Bruisyard Hall from Robert’s father in the mid-80s, they had a shared love of the fascinating history of this former nunnery, farm and stately home, and a great desire to return it to its former glory. Now they want people to come and enjoy the splendour of this property for many years to come.

“This house loves people, and people love this house,” says Teresa. “It’s a very happy place, steeped in history and we only have single groups in at any time. We really want visitors to feel at home here, in this unique setting from a different age.”

And its extraordinary history takes in both Teresa and Robert’s separate claims to the house. Teresa’s mother’s maiden name was Scrope and back in 1354 her ancestor, Anne Scrope, was one of six Poor Clare nuns chosen to live at Bruisyard Hall, then known as Roke Hall alongside the recently widowed Maud of Ulster. This royal connection ensured the Abbey at Roke Hall survived longer than many other religious houses in England under Henry VIII. Interestingly, around 1530 there is mention of a Frances Rous, a member of Robert’s family, who would have been one of the last nuns living in the Abbey.

The original, beautifully carved beams of the old nunnery have been restored in what are now the kitchen, games room and many of the upstairs bedrooms. More are hidden away behind the plastered ceilings.

Henry VIII ejected the nuns in 1539 and gave the property to Sir Nicholas Hare, at which point the house was renamed Bruisyard Hall. The property underwent major alterations including the addition of ornate gateways, a grand courtyard and larger rooms.

The Hare family were staunch Roman Catholics and the high windows you’ll see at Bruisyard Hall are remnants from this era – designed to keep Roman Catholic priests hidden from the prying eyes of hunting Protestants. 

Some of the quirks that make Bruisyard Hall so unusual also come from this time. There are two discovered priest holes still existing. One priest hole is now under part of a bedroom near the clock tower, and the other is behind a fireplace and can be accessed through a narrow tunnel in the attic.

The property came into Robert Rous’ family in 1600 when an ancestor, Thomas Rous, married Anne, a descendant of Sir Michael Hare. To put this into the context of global events, Thomas Rous is recorded as subscribing £50 to the defence of the country against the Spanish Armada.

When John Rous took over Bruisyard Hall in the 17th Century, he lived at Henham Hall, and Bruisyard Hall was left to slowly deteriorate.  Only basic repairs were done to the house during the Elizabethan and Victorian periods, leaving much of its medieval charm and history intact, something quite unique for a large house like this.

The Elizabethan and Victorian eras’ loss is our gain, however. As Teresa Rous says, “Because it lay untouched for so long, when we took on the property in the ‘80s we were bowled over by this beautiful house and its connection to Suffolk and to our families. It has been a labour of love bringing back the former grandness it once enjoyed and giving the Hall the homely feel that we hope will allow people to enjoy, love and use this place for many years to come.”

Labour of love

When Robert, Teresa and their family inherited Bruisyard Hall they held a great respect for the legacy of the house. For decades they poured heart, soul – and plenty of their own money - into restoring the building. The first ten years were spent stabilising the roof and structure. There were moments of despair, too. When a hurricane destroyed one of the main chimneys a decision had to be made, demolish the Hall or continue the restoration. They remained steadfast, and slowly the beauty of the Hall returned.

And now that labour of love has borne fruit, they’re eager for people to make their own personal history at the Hall.

Bruisyard for you

Bruisyard Hall is available to book for three nights or longer. And you’ll have the full Hall and grounds to yourself. As Robert emphasises, it’s a home, not a hotel. “We wanted to make Bruisyard Hall feel homely, not just another wedding or event factory, so to speak. You can take your shoes off and put your feet up by the fireplace. Really take your three days to settle in and feel at home. We’ve had large families book Christmas here, they love the privacy and the feeling of being at home in such an authentic corner of Suffolk.”

The quirks and décor of the house have been kept intact, but with an eye for modern luxury and comfort. So, where those priests once hid from their enemies you’ll find a bedroom with a very comfortable double bed.

A secret room between the floors has a curious window overlooking the dining room and it has been upgraded with luxury features like all the rooms. This unusual and enchanting space has a newly discovered, original crooked doorframe that dates back to the mid-1500s and now leads into a modern bathroom.

When guests enter through the grand hallway, they’ll have access to a dining hall with polished oak table and plush seating for up to 24 guests. Ideal for a conference with a difference, discussing the day’s events, or even having a delicious Christmas feast for the extended family. There’s an oak floored games room with billiard table, flat screen TV with Sky and armchairs you can melt into - Invaluable space and additional entertainment. There’s also a kitchen area with modern appliances so you can enjoy preparing a hearty meal, or have the Bruisyard chefs prepare one for you.

Views of the surrounding estate can be enjoyed from the house, or should you feel like it, you can take a wander around the private 700 acre stretch of green Suffolk countryside. The medieval landscape of the farmland has been preserved.  The Rous family want people to be able to look out on the same view that Thomas Rous did all those centuries ago. The front of the house also has plenty of off-road parking for guests.

And the barn that once housed Robert’s pedigree Friesian cows has been converted into a grand setting for larger wedding and event parties. The exposed oak beams, wooden floors and high ceiling still retain the feel of their medieval history, with great natural light and views of rolling farmland.

Bruisyard’s friendly team

Behind the scenes there is a friendly and dedicated team that works hard to make your stay at Bruisyard Hall perfect and unforgettable. From preparing and serving locally sourced food and maintaining excellent cleanliness in the rooms, to pleasing the quirks and whims of guests. They even managed to source a tractor for a bride to arrive on at a recent wedding. They’ll work closely with guests to figure out what is needed and go the extra mile to make every event as special as possible.

Over the years, Teresa and Robert Rous have done much for the community in Suffolk. Robert is Chairman of the Suffolk Agricultural Association and Vice Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk. Having spent some years volunteering as an Independent Prison Monitor, Teresa is now a Governor of Dennington CEVCP & Charsfield CEVCP primary schools and also spends time each week in school with the children accompanied by her pet therapy reading dog, Eider.  But making Bruisyard Hall’s 700 years of history palpable in every nook and cranny of the building has been their tireless personal mission, and they hope future generations will enjoy many happy times there.

If you want to spread your special day over a historic long weekend, give your corporate event a truly special setting, or even make your family reunion a talking point for years to come, then call 01728 639 000 to make arrangements with the friendly team today.

The secrets of Bruisyard Hall

Graffiti on the stairs in the attic in the 1550 part of the house – There is a wall in the attic on the narrow staircase, covered in a range of hand scrawled names and dates. The earliest dates back to 1805. The story goes that when the house was dilapidated it used to be a village dare to climb up into the attic and write your name on the wall. The house has been a part of the village for a very long time and is a much-loved old friend to the community.

The secret room - The corner room on the first floor over-looking the old fishing lake was found when the Chimney fell in in the ‘80s. The architect saw windows but there was no record of a room.   They knocked through the solid wall of the upstairs landing and found a room, undisturbed for 2-300 years, with lovely oak windows.  The original staircase leading to this room is lost but the space is now an en suite bathroom.