The manor of Pond Hall was bought in 1359 by Helminge Legat, Constable of Windsor Castle. In 1371 he obtained a licence to embattle his house; "Le Pond Hall in Hadleigh", which may have been on the site now known as Hadleigh Castle. The present Pond Hall must have been the work of the D'Oyly family, to whom the manor passed on the marriage of Helminge Legat's daughter and Edward D'Oyly.
The Lord of the manor in the reign of Henry VIII, Sir Henry D'Oyly, was knighted by the king at Boulogne and his son, also Sir Henry, was Sheriff of Norfok in 1572 and 1596/7. (Copinger, W E, The Manors of Suffolk)
According to Sir John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, the first Sir Henry Doyle was sheriff of Suffolk and also JP for Suffolk in 1555.
In 1642, the then holder of the manor, Sir William D'Oyly, was knighted by Charles I for his gallantry in the service of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. Sir William served in the Commons as member for the county and, after the Restoration, as member for Yarmouth. In 1663 he was created Baronet.(Copinger)
The manor was sold between 1700 and 1726 and by 1735 had been acquired by Lionel Tollemache, 4th Earl of Dysart. It remained in that family until sold by the Hon. Algernon Tollemache in 1845.
In 1726 one of the tenants of property within the manor was a Mr William Deekes, who paid an annual rent of 3 shillings and tuppence. In both 1735 and 1738 he appears to have defaulted on his payment and was fined threepence.
From 1785 to 1804 one of the stewards of the manor was a Thomas Dunningham, who had previously rented the land at Windmill Hill in 1764.
It seems that the owner or leaseholder of Pond Hall itself was, in 1760, Francis Thomas Quarles of Foulsham in Norfolk. In 1800 he appointed three local men as his attornies, including a John Dunningham.
When the Rt Hon Louisa, Countess of Dysart became lord of the manor in 1833 (though living at Hearn House in Surrey), the leaseholders of Pond Hall were all farmers, with the names Sheldrake and Kersey appearing several times.
One infamous owner of Pond Hall was John Harvey, leader of the East Anglian smugglers called the Hadleigh Gang
John Harvey, possibly Hadleigh's most notorious felon, stood trial for smuggling on 22nd June 1747. He was one of the leaders of the Hadleigh Gang and the owner of Pond Hall and a father of 4 sons and 2 daughters.
At the turn of the last century Pond Hall had an impressive staff, as seen in the following photo sent by Adrian Pearce, whose ancestor Julia Ruffell is at the far right of the picture.And so into the 20th century...
"... lighting and cooking was by oil and hot water could be obtained by lighting the old kitchen range, but it didn’t really like doing it and I’m sure it felt it should retire! It was freezing in winter of course, with just open fires in the drawing room, which Grandma used as a bed-sitter, and in the evening in the lovely old dining room, which was Hettie's sitting room and normally occupied by half a dozen Pekes.
The kitchen was always warm because the oil cooker was kept going all day – at least on one burner. There was a small scullery off this kitchen, which wasn’t warmed, and food scraps from the kitchen were aimed out of this scullery window onto the compost heap! I dread to think what visited it at night. There was a large table – well, two put together, I think – down the middle of the kitchen and this is where we ate our meals and prepared all the food for cooking and did the washing up. For this we boiled a kettle and brought a bowl from the scullery, carefully putting it on the piece of board (cracked into two pieces aeons ago) which protected the oil cloth, and just as carefully putting a large metal tray beside it for stacking the draining dishes". (Jean)
"I sometimes stayed at Pond Hall when on the way to Hong Kong. There might be a gap of a few days after term ended and before the flight left Heathrow. I well remember the reverential silence as we all listened to the radio in the kitchen. The Archers was obviously one favourite but another very important occasion was Alistair Cooke’s letter from America. Punctuated only by the glug glug of the paraffin cooker in the corner, and the constant hiss of the lamps.
The only mark I made on Pond Hall was that I always had to have tomato sauce with my food. Some was obtained for me on a very early visit and I didn’t stay long enough to eat it all. Whenever I returned over the years it was still there! It lived there forever in the vast corner cupboard, known as David’s tomato sauce". (David)
In 1965 Het Cooley received a letter from the council which she described in her diary as 'upsetting'. It was probably the first of several letters inviting her to take up sheltered accommodation so that the property could be sold. This was understandable, given the size of the house. In 1917, when Harry and Het first moved in on a 'controlled tenancy' they paid £12 per half year as rent for the house and its 1.114 acres of land, which was Holding Number 17 of the Hadleigh Estate. This rent was unchanged by 1946, when the manuscript rent book ends, and had risen to only £30 a year by 1969, at which point the house was described as a "very large traditional construction house with poor facilities and in bad condition".
Despite Het's death in 1969 (when Hettie moved out as well), the house could not be sold to a private purchaser until a legal matter with a nearby farmer had been settled and the house had been repaired. The Felix Thornley Cobbold Agricultural Trust sold the entire Hadleigh Estate to Suffolk County Council, however, at the price of £110,000 for the whole 635 acres.
Over the following two years the house was partially renovated. The roof was repaired using existing tiles wherever possible and second-hand 'clay peg-tiles' for the replacements. Instead of the expected 18,000 tiles the builders only had to supply 6,000 replacements as many of the originals were in good condition.
The council went to great lengths to preserve the wisteria but some of the builders' sub-contractors erected scaffolding "in a negligent manner" so that the scaffolding collapsed when heavily loaded with tiles and the old wisteria was fatally damaged.
The following photos were taken by Reg Brown during the renovation period leading up to the auction of the house in 1972. Note the small window to the right of the front door which had previously been covered over.
Pond Hall went up for auction on Wednesday 19th July, 1972, described as "a scheduled Grade II building of architectural and historic interest - a fine 16th - 17th century residence". The land going with it had been increased to nearly 3 acres. The reserve price was £20,000. Mr and Mrs M Spettigue of Ipswich bought it for £32,000.
When Strutt & Parker advertised the house for sale in the Daily Telegraph of 30 Aug 2006, it was described as also having "a triple garage with two-bedroom annexe above", which, together with 30+ years of price rises had brought the asking price up to £1.2 million. It was sold for £1,150,000 on 01/02/2008. The picture below is from the Strutt & Parker brochure
As a footnote, plans drawn by Dorothy (left) and Rosy Ind (right) remind us of the layout: