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17 July 2018Euston Hall. Home to the Dukes of Grafton for over 350 years. and the Ancient House Museum, Thetford
13 November 2018The Charles Rennie Mackintosh House & Galleries and later Choral Evensong in Peterborough Cathedral

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Euston Hall.
Home to the Dukes of Grafton for over 350 years.
and the Ancient House Museum, Thetford

Tuesday 17 July 2018

Guided tour of the newly refurbished stately home with park and gardens designed by John Evelyn, William Kent, & Capability Brown.

History of Euston Hall

The village of Euston first appears in the Domesday Book (1087) and there has been a manor house on the site since the 15th Century.  The Estate was purchased in 1666 by Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington and Secretary of State to the newly-restored King, Charles II. He set out to build a grand house in the French style, built around a central court with large pavilions on each corner. In its original form, the house was half H - shaped in plan, being the remodelling of a characteristic Suffolk Tudor House.

The Earl of Arlington’s only daughter, Isabella, inherited the Euston Estate when he died in 1685.  She was married to Henry FitzRoy, son of Charles II by Barbara Villiers. The property was subsequently inherited by the 1st Duke and Duchess of Grafton, and it has remained the seat of the Dukes of Grafton ever since.

The 2nd Duke remodelled it in 1750, using designs by Matthew Brettingham (who went on to design Holkham Hall in Norfolk.)

The South and West wings of the house were consumed by a fire in 1902 and, although rebuilt, in 1952 the Hall became unmanageable and these were demolished.

The picturesque courtyard, now the main entrance to the Hall, contains Lord Arlington’s stable block and a service wing linking it with the Hall.

After lunch visit to the Ancient House Museum, Thetford where we get a talk about Thomas Paine and a guided tour round the museum.

Thomas Paine was born in Thetford in 1737 and became a political activist, philosopher, political theorist and revolutionary.  One of the Founding Fathers of the United State, he authored the 2 most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution and he inspired the rebels in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. 

A statue of Thomas Paine was erected in his honour in King Street, Thetford in 1964.

We will also hear about the deposed Maharajah Duleep Singh.  The India Office purchased the Elveden Estate for him in 1863, comprising 17,000 acres.  The house was remodelled into a quasi-oriental palace where he lived the life of a British aristocrat, hosting shooting parties on his game preserve.  The Estate was sold after his death to pay his debts.  Today, Elveden is owned by descendants of the Guinness family.

A life-size bronze statue of the Maharaja showing him on a horse was unveiled by HRH Prince of Wales in 1999 at Butten Island in Thetford.