Madingley estate was acquired by Sir John Hynde, the fourth Baronet, in 1543. He began to build a new hall in the same year which he surrounded with a hunting park. The oldest parts of this brick built manor house are the south and east ranges.
The Murals Room is accessed from the polygonal turret stair at the south east corner of the building. The staircase is oak with solid block treads and the room may have been used as a withdrawing room by the Hynde family who owned the Hall for many generations.
The upper rooms at the south end of the main range contain many original features with some panelling dated to the construction of the building.
The Murals Room has original, perhaps re-used, roof timbers which are of false hammerbeam construction with stoutly moulded beams.
A welcome addition to the university buildings of Cambridge, Madingley Hall was acquired in 1948 and converted for the use of the Extra-Mural Board, research students and visiting scholars.
The wall paintings were discovered in 1906 under layers of tapestry by Colonel Harding, owner of the Hall at that time. It is thought that the murals were commissioned between 1605-1633 for Sir Edward Hynde, who was a great hunting enthusiast, and it’s likely that the scenes show activities in the park at Madingley.
The murals depict scenes of hunting, hawking and bear-baiting. As a means of procuring food and as a sport, hunting was the mark of gentility. The bear hunt below features hunters on horseback and servants on foot with mastiffs and greyhounds. Madingley Hall may have been a hunting lodge before it became a permanent home. Bear baiting remained a popular past time in Britain until the 19th century.
The murals underwent restoration in 1960 and this wonderful room is a hidden gem, only open by prior arrangement.