For the letter M I told the sad tale of six houses called Montagu. This time I have two Ufford Halls and thankfully, they are still intact.
The youngest Ufford is a Georgian mansion near Peterborough. The house was built in 1734 by the Duke of Rutland’s younger son, Charles Manner. His son enlarged the hall, added an extra floor and two wings, and the stable block. The house is built using ashlar – precisely cut stone blocks – giving it a smooth finish with no visible mortar. These kind of building blocks could sometimes be scored with a metal comb to create a decorate effect known as mason’s drag.
The house was sold at auction by his nephew to William Leigh Symes, a plantation owner in Jamaica, so you can guess how that was financed. He never lived in the house but leased it for 100 years to tenants.
In 1902 the house was bought, then left to the fourth lord Airedale, who lived in the basement and turned the upper floors into flats. The stable block was turned into a house in its own right. When Lord Airedale died, he tried to hand it over to the National Trust, who declined due to its terrible state of repair. In 2015, after many years of emptiness, a restoration project was started by the current owners.
The second Ufford Hall is in Suffolk and built from timber. Its early features include a cross-beam in the parlour that hasn’t been altered since the 15th century and a Jacobean dog leg staircase. This Ufford hall probably takes its name from the 1st earl of Suffolk, Robert de Ufford who died in 1369 when it was acquired by the Sancroft family until the 18th Century.
William Sancroft was the 79th Archbishop of Canterbury and responsible for overseeing the rebuilding of St Paul’s Cathedral with Sir Christopher Wren. He attended Charles II on his death bed and crowned James II. However, when James was deposed and replaced by a protestant monarch, William couldn’t bring himself to swear an oath of allegiance to the new king and queen (William and Mary), and was removed from office in 1690. But at least he got to retired to his beautiful house in Suffolk.
Now which would you prefer – stone or timber?