In an idyllic corner of Suffolk is Woodlands, a house and estate which are on the market after two centuries in the same family.
In a delightfully rural area of Suffolk you’ll find Woodlands, a substantial early Victorian country house set in 46 acres of gardens, parkland, woods and farmland. The house and estate are near the village of Holbrook, six miles from Ipswich, within the Shotley Peninsula Site of Special Scientific Interest and the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB; joint-agents Tim Dansie of Jackson-Stops in Ipswich and George Bramley of Knight Frank’s country department are handling the sale.
The agents quote a guide price of £2.5m for the impressive country property that is for sale for the first time in its history, having been owned by five generations of the Hunter-Rodwell family since 1845, when distinguished banker and MP Benjamin Bridges Hunter-Rodwell, the son of William Rodwell, the Mayor of Ipswich, built Woodlands on the site of a former hunting lodge in this picturesque and quiet corner of Suffolk. The sale follows the death in 2019 of Andrew Hunter-Rodwell, who was the fifth member of his family to own the estate.
Life at Woodlands revolves around the vast, galleried hall, with its wide oak staircase and magnificent vaulted, plaster-panelled ceiling.
Alternatively, the property is being offered in up to three lots, at a guide price of £1.75m for Lot 1, the main house with its gardens, grounds and five acres of parkland, some 12 acres in all. Lot 2, priced at £250,000, comprises three arable fields surrounding the house (some 32 acres in all) that are farmed under a farm agreement secured for three generations. Lot 3, on offer at £500,000, is a range of farm buildings with its own separate driveway and potential for a number of uses, including agricultural, equestrian or residential use, subject to the usual planning requirements.
Benjamin’s son William, who qualified as a barrister in 1875 and was a JP for Suffolk, was a first-class cricketer and a member of the MCC. He served in the Suffolk Yeomanry and married Constance Ruggles-Brise of Spains Hall, now the home of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and his family.
William’s eldest son, Sir Cecil Hunter-Rodwell, also served in the Suffolk Yeomanry and went on to pursue a career overseas as a colonial administrator, serving as Governor of Fiji from 1918 to 1984, Governor of British Guiana from 1924 to 1928 and Governor of Southern Rhodesia from 1928 to 1934. Sir Cecil died in 1953, leaving Woodlands to his eldest son, Col Evelyn Hunter-Rodwell, who served in the Second World War before returning to his Suffolk roots, where, over time, he was a JP, a partner in a maltings company and a chicken farmer, as well as serving on no fewer than 22 committees.
Col Hunter-Rodwell left Woodlands to his eldest son, Andrew, who built a house for his growing family on part of the Woodlands estate until his parents moved to nearby Stutton, and he and his family moved to the ‘big house’. His daughter, Miranda Kwiatkowski, recalls an idyllic childhood at Woodlands, where she and her sisters, Camilla and Patricia, ‘without a road in sight, rode ponies and cycled for miles through the glorious surrounding countryside. Otherwise we were climbing trees, making dens or going to the closest beach, Harkstead, a few miles away’.
The focal point of life was the house itself, especially the vast, galleried hall with its wonderful vaulted, plaster-panelled ceiling and beautiful wide oak staircase. Mrs Kwiatkowski remembers the excitement of seeing a towering Christmas tree being put up in the hall, with ‘red satin ribbon cascading down the stairs, and no sliding down the bannisters allowed at that time’. Another great moment was when her parents discovered marble fireplaces beneath layers of paint in the reception rooms.
Many alterations and improvements took place over the years, both inside the house and outside, where a swimming pool was installed, the original grass tennis court was opened up and the croquet lawn provided hours of entertainment for young and old. Today, Woodlands is again a blank canvas, with more than 9,700sq ft of accommodation on three floors, including a grand reception hall, three main reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, playroom, office, two bedroom suites, six further bedrooms, two bathrooms and two flats.
Recommended videos for you Selling agent Mr Dansie is optimistic about the prospects for this house of happy memories at a time when, he maintains, ‘there are still more buyers than sellers at this end of the market and Woodlands is what everyone here is looking for — a classic country house with close connections to London’.
Woodlands is for sale via Jackson-Stops and Knight Frank at £2.5 million for the whole house and estate — see more details and pictures.
Lord’s Wood, near Marlow in Buckinghamshire. Credit: Knight Frank A Home Counties mansion with wood panels and suit of armour in the hall is among the gems on offer