Nowton Court Village

Building History

Nowton is a small village and civil parish in the St Edmundsbury district of Suffolk in eastern England. Located on the southern edge of Bury St Edmunds, in 2005 its population was 140.

The village is situated to the south of the vast Nowton Park. The park is almost 200 acres in size and is landscaped in typical Victorian style. It is owned by St Edmundsbury Borough Council and managed for recreation, leisure and nature conservation. It was once part of the Oakes family estate, and contains wild flower meadows, mixed woodland, wildlife ponds and an arboretum featuring trees from around the world. It is renowned for The Lime Avenue with its 100,000 daffodils that emerge in spring.

St Peter’s church, is the parish church of the village and dates from the 12th century. It was enlarged and repewed in 1843, at the cost of H.J. Oakes, Esq and J.H Porteus Oakes, Esq and is a grade II* listed building. The church is a neat building that contains a nave and chancel and a good collection of late medieval Flemish glass windows. The bell tower contains 6 bells.

To the south of the park lies Nowton Court which was built in 1837 and was owned by the Oakes family. Orbell Ray Oakes was given a piece of land by his father, James Oakes, the Bury banker, in 1801, and between his death in 1837 gradually expanded his property and created a series of gardens and pleasure grounds.

The house itself, then called Nowton Cottage, was particularly picturesque, on a large scale.  His son, H J Oakes renamed the house Nowton Court in 1837; it was also further enlarged. The result is a sort of Tudor style with red brick and stone dressings; tall ornate chimneys of white brick. For several years it was run as a boarding prep school until it closed and pupils and staff moved to Old Buckenham Hall School in Brettenham. Its most famous alumnus is Nigel Havers. Nowton Court is now a retirement home called ‘Nowton Court Village’.

The village is also the location of Grade 2 listed Nowton Hall. The former farmhouse is dated 1595 on the chimney-stack, with the initials A.P. for Anthony Payne (d.1606). The house stands on the remains of a roughly E-shaped moated site. Prior to the Dissolution, the manor belonged to the Benedictine Abbey of St. Edmundsbury.