Porch | Entrance hall | Large Hall | Drawing room | Dining room | Library | Office | Study | Kitchen | Scullery | Housekeeper's room | Butler's pantry / boiler room | 2 wine cellars | Gun cupboard
2 main bedrooms with their own bathrooms | 7 further bedrooms | 3 further bathrooms | Ante-rooms | 3 secondary bedrooms | 7 attic rooms | Box room and linen store
Self-contained 3 bedroom flat | Two bedroom Gardener's cottage | Coach house with stabling and garaging | Greenhouse, outbuildings and stores | Delightful mature formal and informal gardens
Woodland and frontage to the River Tas
About 18.7 acres
In the middle of the 16th century Rainthorpe was owned by the Chapman family. In 1579 they sold Rainthorpe to a local lawyer, Thomas Baxter, who enlarged and modernised the house adding two wings and the octagonal staircase turret. An unusual feature of Rainthorpe is that, although it is predominantly brick built, the first floor is half timbered, an uncommon arrangement in Norfolk. This also belongs to the Baxter period, and it was Baxter who added the kitchens in a wing running west to the north end of the main block.
Baxter married Elizabeth, heiress daughter of George Bloodworth, who died in 1587. Her arms appear in heraldic glass in the drawing room. Baxter died in 1611 and the house passed to a number of owners, including the Third Earl of Orford who bought it in 1762, before it came into the hands of his younger son, the Honourable Frederick Walpole, mp for North Norfolk. The Walpoles had a close connection with the Robsart family, and Edward Walpole, who died in 1559, had married Lucy, daughter of Sir Terry Robsart of Syderstone. The Walpoles regarded themselves as the descendants and successors of the Robsarts and displayed this by incorporating in their arms the crest of the Saracen's head.
The Walpoles spent a great deal of money on the embellishment of Rainthorpe, bringing in much decorative woodwork, including some finely panelled doors and over mantles, and in one room, lining the walls with extremely rare and valuable 17th century embossed Spanish leather. On Walpole's death in 1867, the house was bought by Sir Charles Harvey Bt., a descendant of General Sir Robert Harvey Bt., who fought with Wellington and distinguished himself in the Peninsular War. Harvey restored the house and added the "nursery wing" over the kitchen wing. It is thought to be he who introduced the collection of stained glass, the earliest examples of which date back to the 13th and 14th centuries and can be seen in the Hall. The house was bought between the wars by Mr and Mrs Hastings and later occupied by their son. Subsequently, the present vendors, whose arms now appear in the dining room, bought the property in the late 20th century.
Rainthorpe Hall is a splendid Grade I listed late 16th century manor house set in a spectacular secluded position within attractive gardens and grounds of about 18.7 acres.
It may be approached from the north or the south along tree lined driveways. The house has an impressive façade and retains the atmosphere of the Elizabethan house enhanced by the later additions which include magnificent old fireplaces, oak panelling carvings and stained glass.
The house is constructed of red sand faced brickwork throughout the lower storeys with diapering in dark blue brick, while the upper floors, excepting the wings, are timber framed with exposed studs under a tiled roof. Designed in a traditional Elizabethan E plan and arranged over three storeys, the main façade faces north-east and the terrace at the rear faces South. Large stone mullioned windows ensure beautiful light rooms in the mornings and evenings.
A porch is constructed over three storeys with, on the right hand stone pillar, the initials and date rm 1641, thought to have been carved by a Civil War soldier of the Parliamentary Army billeted here at the time. It leads through to an entrance hall with carved oak panelled walls and doors to the Hall, which is part panelled in carved oak with large stone fireplaces to either end. Over the main fireplace, which is surrounded by elaborately carved oak panels and pillars of Jacobean and 17th origin is the Walpole coat of arms. The oriel, to the left of the fireplace, is entered through a full height carved stone archway and provides a raised seating area which is backed by a collection of stained glass musicians in the leaded windows.
An oak door leads to a rear lobby giving access to a light wood shelved library, with stairs down to the gun room, one of the wine cellars and store rooms, and up to the Column Bedroom with carved stone fireplace and en-suite bathroom.
The west wing can be approached from the other end of the Hall and leads to the study, a splendid dining room with open fireplace, and access to the kitchen breakfast room, scullery, pantry (with heavy slate shelves) and the housekeeper's quarters.
From the Hall the tower staircase rises to the first floor ante-room with embossed leather 17th century Spanish wall coverings, oak panelling and doors to a small study with a fine view.. From the ante-rooms doors lead to a magnificent drawing room which was no doubt the Great Chamber in Tudor times. The carved oak panelled walls, huge 19th century wall mirrors, a ceiling with Elizabethan plaster moulding and stone fireplace flanked by two 17th century carved wooden figures, support the carved mantle shelf and Flemish 17th century panel above. To either side of the fireplace is an alcove with oak panelling and mirrored walls and built-in glazed display cupboards. To one side is a raised seating area in a bay window with a beautiful collection of stained glass, and the spacious east bay window contains example of stained glass depicting the coat of arms of Baxter and Crosse and Robsart. In the left alcove a carved door opens to a landing and connecting staircase to the mezzanine floor below and to the attic above. An east facing window contains two exquisite stained glass depictions of a 17th century kingfisher and an 18th century jay. A door from the drawing room leads to a landing one of the main bedrooms and a further bedroom or dressing room.
From the ante room with the leather walls, other doors lead to a fine panelled sitting room and to bedroom 3 with adjoining bathroom and stair access to the mezzanine bathroom.
From the sitting room concealed steps lead to the west wing first floor which has its own main staircase and includes five further bedrooms (one very large) and two bathrooms. On the attic floor there are three more bedrooms, linen store and further storage rooms.
The "Theatre Flat" annexe which adjoins the west wing has its own entrance hall, living room, kitchen breakfast room, three bedrooms and bathroom. The annexe can also be accessed from the main house.
An attractive detached cottage of brick construction under a flat roof with castellations. A front door leads to a kitchen/breakfast room and reception room. There is a downstairs bathroom and two bedrooms on the first floor.
Coach house and stable yard
To the north of the house is the Coach house and stable yard entered through a wide gate. To the east there is a four bay open sided log and machinery store and immediately to the front is the coach house. Three sets of double timber doors lead to the garages with loft storage over. The stable yard comprises the original 7 timber and cast iron stables around a central cobbled yard with ostler's room, feed room, tack room and ladder to hayloft.
Situated to the north west of the main house is a brick built outbuilding under a pitched tiled roof that has been converted as general storage, but could possibly be converted to a small dwelling.
Rainthorpe Hall is situated in a unique unspoilt and rural setting surrounded by beautiful countryside at the end of long tree lined driveways. The city of Norwich is 8 miles to the north, providing a comprehensive and excellent range of shopping, educational and recreation facilities. The market towns of Diss (16 miles) and Wymondham (5 miles) also provide good facilities.
Intercity trains from Diss to London Liverpool Street take about 1½ hours or from Norwich about 2 hours. Trains from Wymondham to Cambridge take about 1 hour. The A11 trunk road is 7 miles to the west providing direct access to Newmarket, Cambridge, London and the M11 motorway.
The surrounding area is predominantly agricultural providing excellent opportunities for walking and riding. There are good schools in both private and state sectors including Norwich School (at the Cathedral), Norwich High School for Girls, Wymondham College for Boys and Girls, and Town Close and Taverham Preparatory Schools.
There are golf courses at Norwich, Diss, Swaffham and Thetford and racing at Newmarket, Fakenham and Great Yarmouth.
Gardens and Grounds
Rainthorpe Hall has attractive well stocked gardens and grounds. To the west of the house is the stable yard adjacent to which a gravelled area with greenhouses (requiring repairs) and a series of potting sheds.
Beyond this area are formal gardens arranged around a lawn with flower and shrub borders. To one side is a newly planted rose garden intersected by gravel paths with a new yew hedge and gravel pathways bordered by box hedging and mature shrubs.
The more formal gardens are to the south and east of the house. A gravelled terrace behind low retaining walls descends to a lower lawned terrace, with a raised pond, which in turn descends to the main lawn, flanked by mature yew hedging, and ending with a ha-ha before the field. To the south, steps descend from the gravelled terrace to a beautiful lawn with an ancient pond (or "moat") to one side and mature trees with lawn extending down to the River Tas. The garden area near the house is notable for an ornate box hedge.
Within the wall under a pitched tiled roof is a small gazebo overlooking an ancient hazel coppice. An herbaceous border follows at the base of the wall. Behind the wall, and the hedge of holly beyond, is a wild area of mature trees including yew, beech, copper beech, oak and ash, and bluebells in spring. To the north of the house there are far reaching views and a cleared avenue with scots pine to either side towards distant woodland.