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Tudor mansion was later a school for 'problem' children

By This is Devon  |  Posted: September 29, 2010

Bradfield Hall

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BRADFIELD Hall is a Grade I-listed Tudor mansion near Cullompton which was once the seat of the Walrond family.

The house has a complex and fascinating history and its imposing structure contains plenty of surprises.

Built on the site of an earlier 12th-century dwelling, Bradfield was home of the Walronds for about 700 years.

The powerful family had property around Devon and will forever be associated with Cullompton.

Between 1592 and 1603, under their stewardship, Bradfield underwent a radical transformation in what is known as the Tudor H style.

In 1861, Sir John Walrond commissioned the architect John Haywood to redesign and restore the original structure and increase the size of the house with a substantial service block to the west.

The Walronds and their descendants lived at Bradfield well into the 20th century, selling up after the Second World War.

Bradfield spent the next 50 years as an institution known as the Bradfield House School for boys with emotional and behavioural problems.

The independent school was plagued with problems. In 1997, the year it closed, Government figures showed a third of youths appearing at Cullompton Magistrates' Court gave Bradfield Hall as their address.

The previous year child protection staff and police launched an inquiry into allegations of sexual and physical abuse there, but investigators concluded these were unfounded.

Three years after the school closed the estate was split into two and sold.

The centuries had not been kind to the building and much of it had fallen into disrepair.

The main house was bought by interior decorator Chrissie Fairlamb and her husband, who over the next seven years extensively refurbished it.

Bradfield's jewel in the crown is the medieval Great Hall. It is also the oldest part of the six-bedroom property and regarded by many architectural historians as one of the most magnificent examples of a great hall in Devon.

Nearly 45 feet long, it has retained its original, early 16th century hammer-beam roof, complete with carved angels, and a deep cornice with tracery between the trusses.

Just as fascinating are the carved faces bordering the oak panels, possibly representing characters from Chaucer.

Throughout the room are coats of arms, including a large shield of the Walrond coat of arms, and the coat of arms of James I.

Beautiful plasterwork, carved woodwork and panelling are among period features.

Added intrigue is created by a secret door within panelling, leading to a set of stone steps to the lower ground floor.

Following its refurbishment Bradfield was sold once again and is used as a private home.

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