Kirstead Hall is a Grade 1 listed historical house and was a studio for the artist Edward Seago.
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.
The Tudor house is red brick, Flemish bond, with blue diaper pattern and has a pin tiled roof. The house and the barns are all Grade 1 listed and to have this number of listed buildings within such a small curtilage is rare.
The dairy wing is probably 17th century and dates to some 30 years after the main house was completed. The area outside the kitchen was cobbled. The remainder is under the lawn, although the original pigsties still remain. The low court yard wall is probably 18th century.The front walled garden has a lawn which was here when we arrived, but the garden is entirely Judy’s creation. The honeysuckle was there in 19th century – photographs.
The dovecote is Grade 2* and was derelict. It is the largest of three, the other two are in the village.
The young Edward Seago used the east room as a studio and whitewashed the walls himself. His mother made muslin curtains for the windows, however the light was wrong for a studio. He may well have painted the house or the barns, although we have yet to find any pictures of them by him. He met Alfred Munnings in Norfolk, who advised him to learn drawing and also the artist Geoffrey Birkbeck. Edward’s parents slowly came around to the idea of their son becoming an artist and at last agreed with Birkbeck that he needed a studio.
Edward Seago’s father was the manager of a firm of coal merchants and had a thriving business. They lived at Brooke Lodge in Brooke.