Gunton Hall Coastal Village History
Gladed seclusion on East Anglia’s genteel coast.
If the Vikings had been concerned with building and development instead of their preferred recreations of marauding and pillage, Gunton Hall, set on the Suffolk coast near Lowestoft, might have been the result. Certainly the historical records of the Gunton estate, known variously as Guntone, Guston, Gontune and Guntone, bear out the fact that there was indeed a settlement here when the invaders arrived. But this lovely part of East Anglia, geographically a natural port of call for any 9th-Century seafaring Scandinavian with a thirst, had to wait a few hundred years before a manor house that could do it justice would appear.
At last it did, in 1745, for Sir William Harbord, courtesy of Matthew Brettingham,a widely-commissioned architect whose work can still be seen throughout Norfolk and Suffolk. However, while the once-grand 18th-Century manor hall was still present and correct in 1810, its new owner Thomas Fowler, finding its size and period imperiousness to be “inconvenient, set about building the smaller, New Hall, most of which survives intact and is the resort’s reception as we know it today.
As a coastal village, Gunton Hall’s gladed setting couldn’t be bettered. Its comfortable chalets are laced around 50 acres of grounds, with a carefully tended walled garden, secluded woodland and freshwater fishing lake, all close enough to the expansive East Anglian beach to make the short stroll a formality.
Beyond the resort you needn’t go far for the local attractions, either; the seaside town of Southwold, the sunken Saxon port of Dunwich, the city of Norwich with its magnificent cathedral all are within a short drive. Closer still is Lowestoft, whose world-famous porcelain said to be superior even to Delftware has its origins in the fine clay discovered near Gunton Hall in the 18th Century.