The Jernigans built a fine early Tudor house and were the lords of Somerleyton until the accession of Elizabeth the First in 1533; they were Catholic and sensing the tide against them emigrated to America. John Wentworth was the lucky beneficiary having risen from carpenter's son to prominent lawyer to the aristocrats of east Anglia.
It is not clear if John undertook a grand tour himself but he worked for and was influenced by the Duke of Norfolk and set about a grand reinvention of the Somerleyton homestead. He did this in grand style building a fine Jacobean mansion with Dutch gables, stables and most impressively pleasure gardens considerably more elaborate than those seen today.
Sadly the Wentworths only spanned two generations and Somerleyton stagnated until the 1840s when Sir Samuel Morton Peto a Victorian Baronet, engineer and railway pioneer unleashed his industrial fortune upon the estate. Peto immediately engaged two of Victorian England's greatest achievers, John Thomas, sculptor and architect to Prince Albert, and William Andrews Nesfield, celebrated garden designer to the aristocracy. The stunning results are the hall you visit today.