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Land returned to historic Norfolk estate thanks to National Trust

PUBLISHED: 16:40 12 December 2017 | UPDATED: 16:46 12 December 2017

Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk. Oxburgh was built in 1482 by the Catholic Bedingfield family. The moated hall is surrounded by nearly 28 hectares of gardens with streams and woodland walks. Picture: National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk. Oxburgh was built in 1482 by the Catholic Bedingfield family. The moated hall is surrounded by nearly 28 hectares of gardens with streams and woodland walks. Picture: National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

A large plot of land has been returned to an historic estate after being acquired by the National Trust.

Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk. Oxburgh was built in 1482 by the Catholic Bedingfield family. The moated hall is surrounded by nearly 28 hectares of gardens with streams and woodland walks. Picture: National Trust Images/Chris Lacey Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk. Oxburgh was built in 1482 by the Catholic Bedingfield family. The moated hall is surrounded by nearly 28 hectares of gardens with streams and woodland walks. Picture: National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

The 129 acres of land that was once part of the parkland surrounding the historic Oxburgh Hall, near Swaffham, has been taken on by the National Trust, who will be working in partnership with a local farmer to continue the tradition of farming in the area.

It was originally sold as farmland 70 years ago when Oxburgh Hall, once home to an estate of 3,563 acres, was auctioned in 1950 and the remaining land was sold to a number of different buyers.

The acquisition of the land represents an investment of £1,065,000 by the National Trust, which has been made possible through donations from members and supporters.

The addition means that the estate will now be partially restored to the time when it was owned and cared for by the Bedingfeld family who lived there from 1482 until the auction in 1950.

Alex Lassoued, property operations manager for Oxburgh Hall, said: “The chance to restore land back to an estate like Oxburgh rarely happens, so this was an unexpected but very welcome opportunity.

“Working with farming partners in the community means we are able to continue the tradition of farming here whilst also working to create habitats and safe spaces for nature to flourish and thrive.

“We’ll be looking for future opportunities to increase access across this part of the estate and it is only thanks to our members and supporters that we’re able to care for places like Oxburgh and ensure they are here for people to discover and explore for generations to come.”

Earlier this year, the National Trust announced plans to help reverse the decline in wildlife on all land in its ownership, including an aim to create 25,000 hectares of new habitats nationally by 2025.

The practice of arable farming, which is when land is ploughed and used to grow crops, will continue on some of the 
Oxburgh land under an agreement with a local farmer. The National Trust will also implement a number of sustainable farming practices for the benefit of nature and wildlife.

A decision on how the land will be managed in the long-term is still pending.

The history of Oxburgh Hall

■ Oxburgh Hall has passed from father to son, occasionally via a brother, for more than half a millennium.

■ It was built for Edmund Bedingfeld in 1482 and his family has lived there continuously for over 500 years.

■ During that time it has survived a fire during the Civil War, periods of near dereliction, and in 1951 it was under threat of demolition.

■ It was saved when Sybil, Lady Bedingfeld, her daughter Mrs Frances Playford, and niece Mrs Violet Hartcup raised enough money to buy the estate back and then gifted it to the National Trust in 1952.

■ While it is now owned by the National Trust, the family still has the south-east corner of the house and visits for regular weekends and holidays.

■ The hall is home to early Mortlake tapestries in the Queen’s Room, as well as an embroidery by both Mary Queen of Scots and the famous Bess of Hardwick.

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