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Erwarton Hall Gatehouse

A Grade I Listed Building in Arwarton, Suffolk

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Latitude: 51.9708 / 51°58'14"N

Longitude: 1.2353 / 1°14'7"E

OS Eastings: 622323

OS Northings: 235204

OS Grid: TM223352

Mapcode National: GBR VQ9.F4G

Mapcode Global: VHLC7.CQDJ

Plus Code: 9F33X6CP+84

Entry Name: Erwarton Hall Gatehouse

Listing Date: 23 February 1989

Last Amended: 11 December 2020

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1193599

English Heritage Legacy ID: 277432

Location: Arwarton, Babergh, Suffolk, IP9

County: Suffolk

Civil Parish: Arwarton

Traditional County: Suffolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Suffolk

Church of England Parish: Erwarton St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: St.Edmundsbury and Ipswich

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An ornamental gatehouse, constructed around 1549. The design is not attributed to a named individual and is completed in an English Renaissance style.


An ornamental gatehouse, constructed around 1549. The design is not attributed to a named individual and is completed in an English Renaissance style.


The gatehouse is entirely constructed of handmade red bricks laid in English bond, with special curved bricks and some cut-and-rubbed where detailing required it. The concealed roof is covered in cement render.


Square in plan, the gatehouse is aligned on a north-south axis with the entrance to the Hall at the south. The building's southern bay has two small pedestrian gates at the east and west sides.


The gatehouse is a single storey structure with wide semi-circular pediments on each elevation. The pediments conceal the top of the brick vault and central transverse arch, both of which are capped in a C20 concrete render. At roof level: at the centre of the plan, at the four corners, and at the cardinal points is a total of nine round pinnacles. Except over the carriageway at the centre of the building's north-south plan, the pinnacles are supported on chunky, rounded buttresses. The central pinnacle is topped by a wrought iron weather vane.

A broadly spaced modillion cornice wraps around the whole structure and there is a plinth around its base.

The north elevation has a round carriage arch at the centre with a short wooden gate. Some of the brick quoins of the archway have been sensitively replaced. A number of these replacement bricks have graffiti dating from the Navy's occupancy of Erwarton Hall. On each side of the arch is a small rubbed brick oculus. The south elevation is similar to the north but does not have a gate or any oculi.

The east and west elevations are both divided by a large central buttress. To the north of the buttress is a single oculus, and to its south is a low pedestrian archway that abuts a C20 boundary wall. The pedestrian arches both have wooden gates within them.


The gatehouse has a single inner volume without any ornament. The barrel vault of the roof is supported by the outer walls and by a round transverse arch at the centre of the plan. There are traces of render on the brickwork at a high level, and localised areas of repair and replacement of bricks.


The gatehouse at Erwarton Hall was constructed around the year 1549, before the rebuilding of the hall which took place around twenty years later. The hall's early history is not known in detail, but the small village at Erwarton was recorded in Domesday Book. The lordship of the manor was settled on the D'Avillars family in the C13 and passed through marriage to the Calthorpes in 1445. The last of the Calthorpes at Erwarton was Sir Philip, uncle by marriage to Anne Boleyn. Pevsner considered his death in 1549 to coincide with the construction of the gatehouse. The building is believed to have commemorated Sir Philip's death, and will also have marked the new ownership of his son-in-law, Sir Henry Parker.

The gatehouse was constructed in a single phase and has been little altered since its completion. It appears always to have been intended less for security and more for ornament: there is no evidence to suggest that a large gate was ever in place, or that there were substantial walls beside the gatehouse. Nor is there any internal space that could have been used by a porter. Instead, the gatehouse provides a conspicuous display of taste.

It has fulfilled this function largely unaltered despite changing hands several times. The estate passed through marriage to Lord Chedworth in the C18, and in 1775 was sold to Charles Berners. Between 1905 and 1976 the Hall was leased to the Admiralty for the use of the Commanders of HMS Ganges, a training establishment based at Shotley Gate. It has been in private hands since the navy's departure.

The building's strict planning, classically inspired cornice, large circular pediments and experimental use of square and circular forms places it in the first generation of English Renaissance architecture. The design may have influenced the gateway at Stutton Hall (Grade II*, List entry 1036866) built around 1553. From at least the C18 Erwarton was featured in tourist itineraries, and the gatehouse is the focus of some notable artworks. A 1769 image of the gatehouse by Francis Grose was included in Josiah Wedgewood's 'Green Frog Dinner and Dessert Service' commissioned for the Empress Catherine the Great of Russia in 1773, now in the collection of the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg. In 1794 the gatehouse was the subject of a chalk drawing by George Frost, sketching companion of John Constable. In 1799 the building was depicted by Thomas Hearne, an artist known for his influence on JMW Turner.

Reasons for Listing

The Gatehouse at Erwarton Hall is listed at Grade I for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* the Gatehouse is an outstanding early example in England of Renaissance architecture applied to a gatehouse;

* for its intact form, having undergone very little alteration since 1549;

Historic interest:

* for its role commemorating the death of Sir Philip Calthorpe, uncle to Anne Boleyn;

* for the impact of its artistic quality on later buildings and artworks;

Group value:

* for its relationship to Erwarton Hall, Grade II* listed, which was rebuilt 20 years after the completion of the gatehouse, and maintaining an axial relationship with the gateway.

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