EDitorial ± 3-Sep-2018

Crinkle-Crankle Walls in Suffolk, 100-110

(visit the list of crinkle-crankle walls in Suffolk and view the accompanying Google map)

— (100) Peasenhall, Meadow House —

(visited 02-Sep-2018)

With Abbot's Lodge duly ticked off, we headed back over the road to Sibton Church (consult Simon Knott) where I'd parked the car. Not yet 10:30am, a long line of folk weaved in an suitably serpentine fashion along the path, all keen for that day's jumble sale. Five minutes later, we too wandered in to browse Brian Cant's bric-a-brac.

My mum suggested that, before nosing around, we should partake of a cuppa. Waiting for a kettle to boil, smalltalk ensued with one of the good ladies. Curious to know what had brought us there, we explained about the ongoing quest to track down all crinkle-crankle walls in Suffolk. "Oh," she said, "I've got one of those." You're having me on, surely, especially since that would be the 100th wall?

Mais non. A week later and we're in Peasenhall standing to the rear of Meadow House, a late C16 dwelling that was originally three cottages. No mention of it in the Grade II listing description but, true to her word, there is Jenny's wall with its gentle twists and turns. Modest in both height and length, it's relatively modern, especially compared with the ancient house behind it. Wonder who built it? As always, big thanks to the owner Jenny (and husband) for their unquestioning hospitality.

— (101) Wissett Hall —

(visited 10-Oct-2018)

Hat tip to Karen Sparkes who, back in August 2017, asked if I knew about the wall at Wissett Hall, "a spectacular specimen". No, I did not, I replied, observing that said hall was on the market for a cool £2.5m. There in the window of Savills on Princes Street hung an advert for "this beautiful country hall with parkland and a lake."

No progress until a year or so later when I got to work with Mr. Google who, after some wrangling, pointed me towards the current owner. Via his son, managed to speak to Colin who listened patiently before saying yes, come visit. Be best, he said, if you liaise with Paul The Gardener. Which I did, arranging to meet there, NW of Halesworth, on a balmy October afternoon.

Up the driveway we motored, my mum and me, parking by the Grade II listed property. Here was Paul to walk us through to the rather fine walled garden, the western edge comprising a fine crinkle-crankle with gateway, the odd birdbox, bits of trellis and quite a bit of greenery. Most inviting swimming-pool glistened in the sun. Paul proved incredibly generous with his time and knowledge as we walked the lawns in the autumnal heat, a pretty decent way to spend an afernoon. Salt of the earth, that fella. And thanks to Colin too, obviously.

— (102) Spexhall Manor —

(visited 10-Oct-2018)

About to leave Wissett Hall, I asked Paul my customary parting question: do you know of any other walls? He scratched his head momentarily before answering: I have an idea, he said, that there's one just up the road. I'll make a call.

These gardeners have their own bush telegraph, so it seems, meeting up for chips on a Friday and so forth. Yep, he said, putting down his phone: be quick-ish and they'll give you a sneak peek. North from Wissett Hall, barely half a mile up Wash Lane is Spexhall Manor. By the lodge, the gates were open and one of the gardeners beckoned us up the driveway.

Just short of the two-storey jettied porch of the C16 house is a fine length of crinkle-crankle embellished with climbing foliage and vivid pink flowers, all looking splendid in the October sunlight. Taller than me and hard to date, there's no indication of it on any of the old Spexhall maps up to and including 1951. Relatively recent? Grazie to the gardeners!

— (103) Lavenham, Old Station Close —

(visited 12-Jan-2020)

Done this one? asked l'il sis Liz in a Sep 2019 email, directing me to a new estate on the northern edge of Lavenham. Me and Ma saw the central one on Water Street back in 2017, This, though, quite literally, was a new development. Being out in the country, relatively speaking, Street View showing nothing more than a bunch of disused outbuildings.

Lavenham railway station sat on the line from Long Melford to Bury St Edmunds before being Beeching-ed in 1961. On that parcel of land off Preston Road by the old tunnel, apparently the former Armorex site, now sits a smart new estate of expensive looking properties. Road is named Old Station Close. Geddit? Short chunks of crinkle-crankle can be found out front, to the sides and round the back by the bins. Lots of interspersed gates, too.

Spotted in the wall, three bricks tall, was a plaque for Knight Developments, presumably the people who put up the masonry. There's some pleasing greenery along some of the walls, and even some trailing up and across. Needs some time to weather and shake off that just-built appearance.

— (104) Great Waldingfield, Fortress Fields —

(visited 17-Oct-2021)

Third lockdown, February 2021, and an email popped in from Linda Rushton. She was one of the team who'd done great work getting the 1840s wall at Great Waldingfield listed. Her daughter, she said, "wanted to let you know Great Waldingfield has a 21st Century crinkle crankle wall on the new estate, Folly Road".

Developers Bellway built Cromwell Fields around 2013 offering "a stunning choice of two, three and four bedroom homes and a setting in the heart of Constable and Gainsborough country". Mr Google drove past in 2016 but didn't deviate from Folly Road. With no exact location, me and Mum snaked our way into Overing Avenue and past Liberator Close, etc, then the road petered out. Aiming to ask a dog-walker, I saw those distinctive curves down the fantastically named Fortress Fields.

This 10-year-old wall starts modestly then sweeps round the corner and carries on and on, those curves facing the big green space at the estate's western edge. As I was gawping at the length, there was a crinkle-crankle first: a football sailed over the top. I was happy to throw it back over the 7ft height. Linda thinks it's "a lovely wall, especially if the sun is settling. I like the dark red brick." Me too, Linda. Didn't realise until the following day that it has a twin stretch on the southern side of the path. Bravo, Bellway.

— (105) Framlingham, Broadwater Farm —

(visited 26-Feb-2022)

While YT was hard at work a few weeks back, wife & Eldest had an outing. "Have a nice time?" I asked over tea. "Yep," they confirmed, "and we spotted a new wall." Suddenly those old serpentine juices were flowing again. "Don't mess: where exactly?"

Three of us plus my mum headed out through Clopton and very deliberately past Easton where at least two small stretches of the ur-wall had come down, presumably due to Storm Eunice. Left onto the B1116, U-turn near Broadwater garage, sailed past the site, another U-turn at Garnett's, and finally into a handy lay-by opposite what the red mailbox says is Broadwater Farm.

Right is a green gate built into the me-height wall; left is an ivy-strewn middle-age crinkle-crankle. Old-ish bricks join very new bricks just before it turns 90 degrees away from the road to run parallel to a small stream. This whole section has either been completely rebuilt or didn't previously exist. Street View doesn't help: clearly the owners have cleared away masses of green overgrowth. Now motorists between Framlingham and Parham might just catch a glimpse of a previously hidden wavy wall.

— (106) Orford, Peacock's Pyghtle —

(visited 02-Oct-2022)

Around the time that non-essential shops re-opened in England after lockdown 1, Dan sent me a Google Street View link asking "New one to you?" Said link showed a 2009 shot of a short stretch of wavy wall in a 70s estate on the outskirts of Orford. Some 846 days later, restrictions lifted, 'twas time to check it out.

Eldest having declined, mother and son set forth in the Polo. Left at the fire station into Town Farm Estate, jiggle right and left, and left again into the provocatively named Peacock's Pyghtle, a pyghtle being a small plot of land. As the road bends right, opposite stood our section. Its opening curve sports the alliterative road sign and dinks past a tall street light. Have to report that my mum was not impressed with the blue grit box nestled in the single inner part.

Two crinkles, one crankle, then all over, ending at the front window of the bungalow, the garden of which it protected. Not quite the same interest perhaps as the example at The Old Rectory and apparently the sole serpentine in the estate based on a quick stroll. Danke to Dan the delivery man.

— (107) Holbrook, Royal Hospital School —

(visited 01-Dec-2022)

In August 2019 an obituary for Peter Page appeared in the Ipswich Star. Google pointed me that way thanks to a particular photo with the caption "Peter working in the headmaster's garden at the Royal Hospital School, by the crinkle-crankle wall". Must arrange a visit, I thought, and then the pandemic came along.

Forward to late 2022 where, after spotting signs to an open day, I made contact with the Royal Hospital School: very happy to show you the wall, said John, the estate manager. We met outside the headmaster's house, I did the usual introduction -- this is my mum -- and were led through the gates topped with old stone lions. To our right on the short side, a couple of aged crankles; to our left on the long side, many crankles, perhaps 3m tall.

Garden dates back to the original Holbrook House, explained John, but that was demolished around 100 years ago when the school was built. Belonged to one Gifford Sherman Reade, a tea planter who gifted his land to the navy after moving out to New Zealand. Heavily buttressed on the kitchen garden side, it's far prettier externally by the community garden. Couple of obvious repairs but apparently in pretty good condition, "and this is a windy site", said John. Fine example, perhaps late 18th century; more info needed on that house. Thanks to the RHS for permission to come aboard.

— (108) Sudbury, Gainsborough's House —

(visited 12-Mar-2023)

In 2018 I bought a brick, a "traditional handmade clay brick from a local maker", to be part of a new (!) crinkle-crankle wall at Gainsborough's House in that there Sudbury. The museum then closed to visitors in October 2019 -- Covid happened -- and it finally reopened in November 2022. About time to visit with the mother, methinks.

Around half-four on a drab Sunday afternoon, walked up Weavers Lane and obeyed a succession of "entrance further on" signs to find the front door, then deployed my handy National Art Pass tickets (x2) to gain free entry. With less than half an hour to closing time, straight through the gorgeous silk-lined room to our left then out into the garden. There stood a clean, crisp and contemporary crinkle-crankle.

Those are Bulmer bricks from the nearby Bulmer Brick & Tile Company. Some of those baked clay rectangles bear inscriptions with a timeline of TG RA FRSA, for example "1722 Move to Sudbury" and "Attends Sudbury Grammar School"; that'd be very close to another local wall at Royal Grammar Place. Another says "Peasant's Revolt 1381", a tad before Thomas's time. In truth it seems almost too fresh at the moment and will no doubt look way better once some flowers and greenery take hold.

— (109) Boxford, Swan Street, Cygnet House —

(visited 01-Jul-2023)

On the way back to Ipswich after seeing the new wall at Gainsborough's House, we detoured through Boxford. Another one to see somewhere down here, I said, as we drove at 5mph along Swan Street. Didn't we come here before? asked my Mum. Sure did, I said, to see that tiny one in someone's back garden.

I repeated the journey solo a few months later and decided, late afternoon, to chance my arm. Handily, a van was parked on the driveway with two blokes standing nearby. Excuse me, I said, and did my crazy intro. Walk this way, said Scott, hospitably. Cygnet House, says Rightmove, is a 1960s "detached architect-designed house", the outside of which "offers private and substantial gardens ... with a crinkle-crankle wall", hence my visit. Guy next door, said Scott, referring to his neighbour in Wynne House, said they sold off some land and built this house.

To my left, a wavy wall at 90 degrees to the road. To the rear, a much older serpentine (c/w properly aged coping stones) that most likely bordered a kitchen garden back in the day. Aerial view shows both walls, the ancient example starting to the rear of Wynne House. Weirdly it's 2m tall in Scott's garden but you can go through a break in the brickwork -- that single brick construction on view -- to a smaller built-up garden where the wall stands around 1m high with a pleasing distant view of St Mary's.

I did that Rightmove search around January 2023. Seven years earlier, Edward Martin included "Wanne House" on his own list. Oh well. Did you see I visited that wall in Boxford? I asked my mum a few days later. Her reply? Judas! Thanks to Scott, by the way.

— (110) Mendlesham, Church Farm —

(visited 02-Jun-2024)

Arriving in a sun-drenched Mendlesham, we parked more or less opposite the church. Where's the church? asked my mum. Next to St Mary the Virgin stands the Ronseal-named Church Farm, which, according to the EADT in September 2023, was up for sale with "more than four acres of land and a crinkle-crankle wall".

Friendly couple who've been here only for a few months obligingly took us down their driveway to view their 6ft "wibbly-wobbly wall", as they call it. Down, doggies! Has four generously proportioned in-and-outs, stands 20 or so bricks tall, and even has the odd fruit tree doing its espalier thing. Looks great from the drive and better still on the lawn side, and connected to more conventional walls at both ends, each with an archway to the garden.

Like my mum, the wall's hard to age. Can't see a curvy line on any old maps though has clearly been here a goodly number of years: perhaps Victorian? Not many crankles around these parts. Nearest that I know of is 10 mins away at Bacton. Thanks to Bella and Bailey and their hospitable owners.