Crow’s Hall is a Grade II* listed 16th Century Moated Manor House. It is situated on a summit of ground rising from the River Deben at Debenham, and is approached by a straight avenue flanked by a double row of oaks.
Most of the 16th century and earlier parts of the manor house were demolished by about 1700. This included the Great Hall range to the east and the service wing to the south. This left the north reception wing which was built around 1560 and the gatehouse to the west still standing, interlinked by a screen.
By about 1700, a narrow single-story range filled the space between the gatehouse and the west gable of the north wing. At the same time a small service wing was added to the north side, re-using roof timbers apparently from the demolished Great Hall. There is also an extension within the courtyard built soon after 1900. The north wing contains an upper dining chamber (since divided into bedrooms) with panelling of c.1560, and more of it has been moved round within the building. The dining chamber was approached by what may be the earliest example of a balustraded box staircase in England.
The Manorial history at Crow’s Hall dates back to 1086 and the site could have been occupied from earliest times. It’s name however, would seem to derive from the occupation of John Crow in the late 13th Century. The name John Crow appears in the Hundred Rolls 191, 1274/5. It has been suggested that they were a Yarmouth family who made their money in shipping. It was bought by Jenk in Framlingham in 1397 and passed by decent until the late 17th Century.
The 16th Century building of Crow’s Hall is attributed to Sir Charles Framlingham, firth generation of Framlinghams at Crows Hall, and recent dendrochronology further confirms this. Two timbers in the roof structure were felled in the summer of 1559 and one in the Winter 1559/60. It was in 1559 that Sir Charles inherited Crow’s Hall from his father Francis Framlingham and in 1561 he married his first wife Dorothy, daughter of Sir Clement Heigham of Barrow, Suffolk. It seems almost certain, therefore, that the present north wing containing a suite of reception rooms was completed in time for the wedding.Dendrochronology has also established a major phase of alteration to the service range outside the moat in c.1585. Sir Charles was knighted at Westminster in 1581 and became High Sheriff of Suffolk in 1583. It was about this time that the west gable of the north wing and the gatehouse range appear to have been rebuilt, perhaps replacing timber-framed structures. This is likely also to be the time when the new bridge and dovecote were built.
The barn at the centre of the service range had been built by an ancestor of Sir Charles in c.1478. Here, there are very early examples of queen post roof structures.He made a large westward extension to the barn in c.1561 and a second extension at the east end in c.1585, which may have been used as a brew house and granary. His grand father’s family crest appeared over the gatehouse, now too worn to decipher, but with the Neville quartering’s of his grandmother, Anne Horne, herself a granddaughter and co-heiress of John Neville, brother to Warwick The Kingmaker. Ironically, the present owner is a great-granddaughter of the Fifth Earl of Warwick.
Sir Charles’ son Clement pre-deceased him and therefore Crow’s Hall was left to his only daughter Anne who married Sir Bassingbourne Gawdy. Their second son Charles inherited (died 1628), his son Charles (1612-1650), his son Charles (1635-1707), created First Baronet in 1661 leaving only one son who was described as ‘of infirm mind’.
Crow’s Hall was sold before Sir Charles’s death to John Pitt MP in 1694. It seems that at about this time Crow’s Hall may have been in a state of disrepair and the Hall at the east and the south wing were demolished. The occupancy of Crow’s Hall at this time is yet to be researched by the current owner, but it appears to have been sold to James Bridges in 1764 and sold again to Sir John Major of Worlingworth Hall by Lady Catherine Stanhope in 1776. Sir John Major’s daughter inherited, married John Henniker and it remained in the Henniker family until sold to the then tenant Herbert Gill in 1948. Crow’s Hall was then sold to Commander Cuthbert Carr in 1950.
Commander Carr was responsible for some renovations, namely replacing the Georgian windows put in during the time of the tenancy and changing some of the fireplaces. In 1960 he sold it to a neighbouring farmer, Victor Knowland.
In 2005, Crow’s Hall was purchased by the current owner who has recently undertaken an extensive repair schedule on the house, prepared and managed by Nicholas Jacob Architects and executed by R & J Hogg, including re-roofing and the removal of some late 20th century additions. These works have received awards for Craftsmanship by the Suffolk Association of Architects.
The owner has also landscaped the inner moat, the design of which has been influenced by traditional gardens and includes a kitchen, formal garden with dipping pool, and a courtyard following early foundations of the former Hall and South wing.
The knot garden on the north side also following foundations discovered during the renovations. These have all been designed and laid out by Lady Tollemache, Garden Designer. Outside the hall’s moat are further moat structures, which relate to 18th Century landscapes, although these moats probably started life as mediaeval fish ponds. To the northwest, between the moats, is the 16th Century dovecote and to the south is the fine barn which is thought to be the longest range in East Anglia.