The history of Haughley Park House includes two major fires, five families, the threat of demolition and in the 1950s it was nearly turned into a zoo.
Now it is a private residence, event host and barn wedding venue, having been lovingly restored by two generations of the Williams family who still call it home today. Although parts of the house have suffered fire damage in the past, the main facade remains as impressive as ever having recently undergone special renovation.
From Royal Gift To Family Home
Queen Mary I – also known as Bloody Mary – grants the manor and park of Haughley to Sir John Sulyard (1518 – 1575) in gratitude for his loyalty to her. Sir John was a parliamentarian during her reign and a supporter of the Catholic Church. He was with Sir Henry Bedingfield and others who rallied to Mary’s support in Kenninghall, Norfolk on 12 July 1553, during the succession crisis surrounding Lady Jane Grey. Their swift loyalty to her was decisive in bringing her to the throne.
Haughley Park manor house was built by John Sulyard (1572-1626), grandson of the Sir John mentioned above. For almost two centuries the house remained in the family and was the centre of a 2500 acre agricultural estate.
Now reduced to around 700 acres, the estate was sold to lawyer, William Crawford (1756-1835). A fire gutted the north end of the house in 1820 and this was rebuilt in the Georgian style. His son, the Rev. William (1791-1868), inherited the estate in 1835 and added a long Stable Wing to the rear.
1868 to 1918
Estate now 467 acres and owned by Captain Arthur Pretyman (1830-1898) and his wife, the heiress Mary Baxter. The couple had four children and their only son, Frederic Henry Pretyman (1875-1939), inherited the property when Arthur died. In 1917, Frederic married Ethel Sparke, the daughter of Edward Bowyer Sparke of Gunthorpe Hall in Norfolk. Soon after this he put Haughley Park on the market.
1918 to 1924
House empty and in the hands of estate agents.
1924 to 1956
Owned by Turner Henderson (1876-1956), a retired tea planter, big game hunter and animal lover. On his death the house was left to London Zoo for use as a safari park but it was deemed unsuitable.
With the house under threat of demolition, Alfred Williams MBE bought the property to use as both a home and the site for his egg and poultry processing business, John Rannoch Ltd.
After a long restoration, an immense fire gutted more than half of the house but left the external walls standing. The restoration started again, and the family did not move in until three years later.
Alfred died aged 82 and his son Robert, at that time running the Pearl Dot Furniture Workshop in Islington, moved into Haughley Park with his family.
John Rannoch Ltd was sold in 2002, but the Williams family retain ownership of the majority of the land, now 250 acres, along with the buildings, including the house, barn, and farmhouse.
If Sir Walter Scott had known this house and the story of the Sulyards, we might have had another sixteenth century romance from him…
Rev Arthur Dimock
Rector of Wetherden, Suffolk around 1900
Resource: The Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History
From Barn to Venue
1600s to 1964
Haughley Park Barn was originally built as part of the home farm at Haughley Park and used for agricultural purposes.
Vacant, and in a dilapidated condition, until restored by the new owner, Alfred J Williams, for use as a venue.
Following restoration the barn was now a warm, safe space for events. It was used mainly in connection with the family business but charities also used the space for meetings and fundraisers. The majority of the oak beams are original, as are the massive red brick walls.
2002 to present day
Barn licensed for civil ceremonies and made available to those looking for a beautiful setting and well-equipped venue for their wedding celebration.