A History Of The Manor House, Bracondale In Norwich


From the Castle built by the Normans to the 900 year old Cathedral the city of Norwich is well known for its rich and fascinating history. One of the lesser known historic buildings in the city is the Manor House in Bracondale which has a very interesting history.

Bracondale has historically been the main route which leads southwards out of Norwich and this meant it became a very popular location for wealthy residents. The name derives from the term “a dale of bracken” which highlights the rural history of this area of the city. The Manor House is currently a Grade II listed building due to its architectural and historical importance but what is interesting is that there is still a lot that is unknown about the property due to a lack of historical documents. Research by historians has shown that the Manor House was built between 1617 and 1632 by Anne Kempe who was the widow of Robert Kempe, a wealthy Norwich grocer. Robert Kempe left his possessions to his wife but there was no mention of the Manor House in his will which suggests that Anne Kempe built it with the money he left her. Despite the Jacobean house being called a Manor House there is actually no evidence that it was used for this purpose and it was probably described as such during the 19th century.

The house has some very unique features such as a Brick Tower built behind the property during the 17th century. There is no evidence as to what it was used for but due to the excellent views it has been suggested that it was used as a hunting lodge. The house also has striking Dutch gables which has made it a popular tourist attraction in Norwich. Since Anne Kempe passed away numerous people have moved into the property including Augustine Reve and his wife Elizabeth Bayspoole in 1656 and their initials can be seen carved into a stone in the middle of the gable. The house was then passed onto their son Henry and his wife Elizabeth who stayed there until the end of the 1600s. During the 1700s and 1800s the house had many different owners including Lord Mayor William and Mayor James Crowe who were leaseholders of the property. Then, in 1939 during the Second World War the Manor House was used by Commander Wood as a headquarters for the ATS where it played a very important role.

Despite this rich history the house was divided up into three different flats by a property company in 1951. As a result of this the property deteriorated and it was left needing significant work. However, in 1983 all of the flats came onto the market at the same time and Peter Macqueen, who worked with Anglia Television as a cameraman, decided to purchase all three. He then lived in one of the flats as he worked on restoring the property. However, he ensured that during the restoration the Manor House maintained its historical look and feel such as the fine oak Jacobean staircase. A “K” can still be seen on the centre gable, which may stand for Kempe, and in the garden the wall on the left side houses the only surviving fragment of Hill House. There is also the date 1578 in iron numerals on the gables and it has yet to be established what the significance of this date is.

We have just taken on the Manor House so if you are interested in potentially purchasing the property then please call us on 01603 660000 or visit us at 2A Upper King Street, Norwich, Norfolk, NR3 1AH for more information. The property will also be featured in this week’s EDP Property Supplement so keep an eye out.

Tim Miller – abbotFox Community Manager


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