Pakenham History : The History of Nether Hall

"The History of Nether Hall and the Various Owners "
A short history written by W.R. Rayner
with kind permission given by his daughter Gill Applegate to publish on
the Pakenham -Village web site.

PAGE - 14

The story goes that Sir Compton Thornhill, who was a Conservative whip in the House of Commons during the last decade of the 1880's was wont to look upon ladies with a roving eye when he was not ensconced with his whiskey bottle in "the best room" at 'The Bell'. Among the ladies who attracted his attention was Lady Greene, the wife of Sir Walter. Sir Walter resented this uninvited attention to his wife, and the result was a violent row with Sir Compton, in which he declared he would never look upon Sir Compton, or his residence, "The Lodge" again!

In his anger Sir Walter drove to Bury St. Edmunds and personally recruited every out-of-work man standing upon The Corn Hill, which was the resort of the jobless ones in those days. The lake basin was dug out manually by these men, and the excavated earth was carted by horse and tumbril to make a great bank along the park side of the lane which runs from Pakenham Street to the Thurston Road. Trees and shrubs were planted along it, and thus eventually the view of The Lodge was completely obliterated from Nether Hall! An island was left in the middle of the lake, and trees were planted on it, and around the surrounds of the lake.

The water was bounded by a pleasant path way, and two picturesque wooden summer houses were built by the path on opposite sides of the lake. In these the ladies of the House rested, or took tea by the lakeside. A boat-house was erected by the sluice gate at the lower end of the lake, and boating and fishing became a relaxing recreation for the residents at the Hall. Once a year, on the day of the village Flower Show, the lake was open to the public, when visitors were allowed to take boating trips on the lake at the cost of 1d, the proceeds being donated to village charities. The oarsmen were provided by the out-door staff at The Hall.

In addition to occasional fetes the Park and grounds of Nether Hall were always open to the villagers on the day of the Annual Flower Show and sports. The space between the avenue of oaks leading from the front of the Hall was occupied by the Flower Show marquee in which the villagers' prime exhibits of flowers, vegetables, household products and the children's wild flowers and grasses were displayed. Sports were held on a track behind it, and in the far corner by the carpenters' shop, Mrs. Crichton's Fair, of round-a-bouts, swings, coconut shies and stalls would be set up for everybody's enjoyment. Dancing to the music of the band of the Suffolk Yeomanry would occur on the lawn in the evening.