Record Details

NHER Number:5752
Type of record:Building
Name:King's House

Summary

King's House was constructed sometime between 1756 and 1782. Mid 18th century descriptions of the house state that it incorporates part of a hunting lodge acquired by James I in 1609. When the new building was constructed, the majority of the existing multi-gabled Tudor complex, which was then known as Sir Armine Woodhouse's House, was partly demolished. In 1950, the building was converted to municipal offices. The ground floor was refurbished in 1993, and a lift was inserted in 2002.
King's House is two storeys with attics and is roofed with three parallel, fairly steeply pitched slated roofs running east-west. The front wall is of yellow brick with red brick facings, with four windows and a doorway on the ground floor and five windows on the first floor. Above is a modillion cornice and plain parapet to which is attached what appears to be the Georgian Royal Arms. The doorway is flanked by Ionic columns and headed by a modillioned pediment. The other walls are of split flint, with frequent freestones and freestone quoins. They incorporate a number of reused stone pieces, including fragments of Saxon and medieval tracery. The western end of the north wall is of red brick, the work at the bottom being of thin brick which probably dates from the 17th century. Externally this is the only part of the house which conforms to the style of Sir Armine Woodhouse's house, as shown in a drawing of about 1760 in Thetford Museum. The interior of the building appears to have been remodelled in the Victorian period, although several 17th and 18th century doors and door fittings appear to have been re-used. The main staircase is early 18th century, with wrought-iron balusters and a ramped and wreathed handrail.

Images

  • King's House, Thetford.  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service

Location

Grid Reference:TL 8695 8316
Map Sheet:TL88SE
Parish:THETFORD, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

LISTED GARDEN WALL AND WATCHING BRIEF PREVIOUSLY RECORDED UNDER THIS NUMBER ARE NOW RECORDED UNDER NHER 52590.

April 1951. Listed Grade II.
House, said to have had 17th century origins and to have been used as King James I's hunting lodge. Rebuilt 1763, converted to municipal offices 1950-51. Flint and re-used ashler. Façade with gault brick skin and red brick dressings. Slate roofs. 2 storeys in 5 bays. Central 20th century glazed door in panelled reveals. Doorcase of reeded and fluted engaged Ionic columns supporting entablature and pediment. Two 6/6 unhorned sashes right and left under red brick gauged skewback arches. 5 similar to first floor, except for left 2 sashes, which are horned replacements. Modillion cornice below parapet with a central achievement. Gabled roof with 3 gabled dormers fitted with 2-light casements. Internal gable-end stacks. House is formed of 3 gabled roofs running east-west. East return with conservatory butting onto curved flint wall to south studded with re-used ashlar fragments with carving. West return with a 2-storey flint extension with red brick dressings and a hipped slate roof. 2 bays with two 6/6 sashes each storey. Medieval fragments re-used.
Interior: plan altered to form offices. Staircase with wrought-iron balusters and ramped and wreathed handrail. First-floor council chamber is plain. Roofs of principals and taper-tenoned butt purlins.
See (S1) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 18 December 2008.

December 1952. Scheduled.
The present King's House was constructed sometime between 1756 and 1782 (likely about 1770). It is of two storeys with attics and is roofed with three parallel, fairly steeply pitched slated roofs running east-west. The front wall is of yellow brick with red brick facings, with four windows and a doorway on the ground floor, and five windows on the first floor. Above is a modillion cornice and plain parapet to which is attached what appears to be the Georgian Royal Arms. The windows have flat heads of gauged red bricks with recessed frames. The doorway is flanked by Ionic columns and headed by a modillioned pediment. This is an ovolo-moulded architrave. The door and reveals are panelled, the upper panels of the former having been removed.
The other walls are of split flint with frequent freestones and freestone quoins at the northeast angle of the house and at the base of the southwest and southeast angles under the 18th century brick. Such walling occurs in another 18th century house in King Street, almost opposite to the King's House, and may be taken as one of the local styles of that period. The western end of the north wall is of red brick, the work at the bottom being of thin brick, which probably dates from the 17th century. Externally this is the only part of the house which conforms to the style of Sir Armine Woodhouse's house, as shown in a drawing of about 1760 in Thetford Museum. The drawing shows a Jacobean house and a note attached to it dated 1782 explains that within the past 20 years much of it - the Old Palace - had been demolished and the rest remodelled by Thomas Wright, Esq.
Internally one finds that most of the rooms of this recently vacated house have been 'Victorianised'. No ceiling beams are visible. No panelling is in situ, but there are sundry old doors reused, some of about 1600 and some of about 1700 or so, with some latches and hinges of the earlier date and handles of the later. Some of the roof timbers are chamfered and stopped. The chief glory is the main stair with wrought iron balustrade of good early 18th century style now painted brown.
Clearly this is not the King's House of 1609, but it seems to incorporate part of that early structure and some of its fittings. It is a good example of 18th century building, and has a notable staircase.
See (S2) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 18 December 2008.

18th century building said to incorporate part of a hunting lodge acquired by James I in 1609. (S3) has a sketch dated before 1792 of a multigabled Tudor complex 'mostly taken down in the last twenty years', the remainder modernised. He also describes here a Banqueting House attached to the SE corner of St Peter's Churchyard; small, one bay each side, tall gables, and a huge oriel 'taken down in Sir John Fenn's lifetime'.
Photographs of reused stone in building by H. Ashley 1982 (S4). One shows a rear elevation - ground floor hidden by conservatory, above it are three Georgian windows set beneath two gables containing small windows; a third gable in this wall is blank, with chimney with sundial. Flint wall is full of stone blocks and quoins are of stone. Close-up of another unspecified window shows around it stone blocks with rosettes, colonette heads, tracery fragments and a pair of interlaced dragons biting their tails (Late Saxon?). Several close up shots of other medieval stone fragments, mouldings etc. Also a stone coat of arms and a creature like a lion with two tails ending in trefoils.
E. Rose (NUA) 3 December 1982.

The date of 'before 1792' is taken from the sketch in (S3) which has a note dated '17_2'. But this appears to refer to a later annotation. In any case Martin was dead by 1771. The note, as quoted above, could be Kirkpatrick or by Peter Le Neve.
Negative of sketch in KLM.
E. B. Green (NCM) 10 February 1989.

February 1993. Building descheduled.
King's House has been removed from English Heritage's Schedule.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 18 December 2008.

1993. Ground floor refurbished.
The ground floor rooms and hallway were refurbished. This work included excavation of drain trenches to a maximum depth of 0.5m for replacement of drains. It also included replacement of sash windows, re-opening of several formerly blocked apertures, upgrading of electrical fittings, rebuilding of fireplace, and replacement of interior fittings.
See (S5) and (S6) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 18 December 2008.

2002. Insertion of lift.
Insertion of a lift adjacent to the principal staircase in order to provide access to the first floor has been approved.
See (S6) and (S7) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 18 December 2008.

Monument Types

  • HUNTING LODGE (Post Medieval - 1609 AD? to 1782 AD?)
  • HOUSE (Post Medieval to Cold War - 1756 AD? to 1950 AD)
  • OFFICE (Cold War to Modern - 1950 AD to 2050 AD)

Associated Finds

  • HERALDIC DEVICE (Undated)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Leaflet: 1998. The King's House, Thetford..
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
---Photograph: ARCH 2788.
---Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Post-Medieval. Thetford.
<S1>Scheduling record: English Heritage. List of Buildings of Historical and Architectural Interest.
<S2>Scheduling record: English Heritage. Scheduling Report.
<S3>Unpublished document: Martin, T.. Church Notes.
<S4>Photograph: Ashley, H.. 1982. CSY 25-36. King's House, Thetford. Re-used stone..
<S5>Unpublished document: Listed Building Consent.
<S6>Graphic material: Various. Various. Architectural plans..
<S7>Correspondence: Atkins, J.. 2002. Letter regarding installation of lift at King's House, Thetford, for Thetford Town Council. 24 June 2002.

Related records

52590Related to: King's House Gardens (Monument)

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