Early history

Dovecote at Kirstead Hall

Dovecote at Kirstead Hall

In 1095 the site was part of the outlying lands of the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds.

About 1450 the area was devastated by the Black Death.  This is believed to account for the distance between Kirstead Church and the present village.  The old village was depopulated and the new one built later on the present site.  There are a number of similar sites in Norfolk.

In 1535-6 the Abbey was dissolved and Henry VIII took the lands.  The site of the Hall was part of a purchase from the King by John and Elizabeth Cook of London who were speculators.  It is believed that a house was already here and parts of it were incorporated into the present building.

In 1544 the site was bought by Thomas Godsalve, lawyer, registrar of the consistory Court of Norwich and landowner, as part of a large estate he was in the process of forming.

His son Sir John Godsalve came into the property in 1552 and was Clerk of the Signet to Henry VIII.  He took part in the operations against Boulogne in 1544 and was appointed Visitor to check on the “Bishops” obedience to the King’s orders.  Under Edward VI he became Comptroller of the Mint.  He died in 1566 leaving two sons William (OSP) and Thomas.  Thomas appears to have begun building the house incorporating parts of the previous building which was probably enlarged into its present form by Sir Thomas Spooner.