Every year, we offer a number of exclusive tours including a guided walk to the Minster ruins, a regular programme of brief house tours and we also welcome pre-booked groups.
It is a pleasure to welcome visitors to our home, to interpret its features and wall-paintings, to talk through our understanding of the development of this island site over the centuries and reveal important clues to its significance in its ancient landscapes. We often learn much in return from those who visit and the tours make a valuable contribution to the sustainability and conservation of the site. So thank you in advance for coming.
Exclusive tours of South Elmham Hall & Minster
“What a wonderful afternoon! South Elmham Hall is fascinating, brought alive by John's passion for the place.
The highlight (even in the rain!) had to be the walk to the ruined Minster in his knowledgeable company. “
We offer detailed tours through the Historic Houses ‘Invitation to View’ scheme on specific dates every year. The afternoon tours include the grounds, garden, gatehouse ruin and the Hall's ground and first floor. Tea and homemade cake (included) is served in the medieval barn, followed by a guided walk across the fields of the ancient deer park to the ruins of South Elmham Minster (about 15-20 minutes each way and stout footwear is advisable).
“Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the tour and the long history of the Hall, estate and Minster so well researched by Mr Sanderson. The stroll through the fields to the well-hidden Minster was a lovely end to the day. “
Special house tours for groups can be requested online through the Invitation to View website. These are particularly popular with all sorts of clubs from local history societies to Women’s Institutes. Most choose to include light refreshments, lunch or afternoon tea with us in the medieval barn to make the visit even more memorable.
Booking is essential. We regret that we are unable to include children. Location and directions»
Invitation to View: Group Requests & Bookings call 01284 827087 or online booking request facility here »
Pre-book or ‘pop-in’ house tours
South Elmham Hall opens its doors every week in spring and summer for a brief guided house tour. Space is limited, so please call to book in advance and avoid disappointment. We also recommend the more exclusive tour of the Hall and Minster (see above) which can be booked online through Invitation to View. As with all our tours, due to the fragile nature of the historic property we are unable to include children.
Tours: Every Thursday between April 1st and 30th September at 2pm
Price: £12.00 per adult
Bookings: Call 01986 782526
Location & directions»
EDP Norfolk Magazine's verdict
The Norwich Bishop’s palace on the border
Feel history in the landscape – and the landowner’s true love of it - at South Elmham Hall near Harleston. Third generation Waveney Valley farmer, John Sanderson, takes a sustainable approach to working the ancient remains of an episcopal estate which dates back to the 7th century. His family home, the former medieval palace where mighty bishops held court, sits within an idyllic four acre moated site and contains early domestic wall-paintings possibly by the same medieval as examples in Norwich cathedral dated to around 1270. A walk with John across the meadows of the ancient deer park leads to the enigmatic ruins of South Elmham Minster, an 11th century chapel perhaps built to trade off the site’s earlier Saxon heritage by attracting the attention and donations of passing pilgrim travellers.
- In a nutshell: Moated episcopal palace site, home to an entire community in 1300-1400s. Minster ruins. Grade I listed. Original rural landscape farmed and managed sensitively for wildlife.
- Don’t miss: Wall-paintings even in the bathroom; tea in medieval Bateman’s Barn with its anti-witchcraft ‘graffiti’; romantic gatehouse ruins on the island; wooded Minster ruins.
(Feature on Invitation to View by Lindsay Want 2018)