The Invitation to View scheme originated in 1998 in the Heart of Suffolk, with 14 privately owned historic houses opening their doors to the public. It was initiated by the tourism team at Mid Suffolk District Council and since then has gone from strength to strength, extending throughout England and Wales and now has an eclectic collection of over 90 properties.
The scheme allows visitors to access privately owned historic houses, which are not normally open to the public. Tours are conducted usually by the homeowner and include refreshments and lots of information about the buildings and the people who have lived there in the past.
We are thrilled to hear that Belchamp Hall on the Suffolk/Essex border is one of the Invitation to View scheme’s newest recruits.
Charles Raymond’s family has owned Belchamp Hall since 1611 (the current Queen Anne mansion was built in 1710, replacing the previous Tudor house which originally stood there). Some of the gems to be seen during the house tour include original family portraits painted by Thomas Gainsborough, as well as an organ which was given to the Raymond family by the 18th century baroque composer Georg Friedrich Handel.
The house sits in pleasant grounds where the odd peacock or two roam and overlooks the pretty, 14th century church. As well as being of interest to history buffs, Belchamp Hall may be of interest to fans of the BBC TV series Lovejoy too: the hall was used as Felsham Hall, the fictional home of Lady Jane in the series.
Invitation to View tours of Belchamp Hall take place on 24th April / 19th June / 4th July / 27th September at 2.30pm. The cost is £15 per person and coffee/tea and cake is included.
There are many other properties in Suffolk in the scheme. To view them all and to book, do visit the Invitation to View website.