STEPPING inside Layer Marney Tower is liking travelling back in time.

While on the outside it boasts a Tudor facade the house has changed time and again in the near 500 years since it was built.

Owners Nicholas and Sheila Charrington invited the Gazette inside to find out some of its hidden history.

The couple took over Layer Marney Tower from Nicholas’ parents in 1989.

They had bought it in the late 1950s from a family who had spent the previous 30 years living in Scotland.

Built by Henry, 1st Lord Marney, a courtier of King Henry VIII who believed the more powerful you were the grander your house should be, it is the tallest of all Tudor gatehouses.

It is also one of the only remaining examples of terracotta architecture which was stripped from many buildings over the years as it became distinctly unfashionable.

Henry Marney died in 1523, and his son, John, died just two years later, leaving the original plans of the Palace of Layer Marney incomplete.

Mr Charrington said: “The rooms show how the place is constantly evolving.

“The Marneys lived here long before they built the Tudor house we see today.

“They came over at the time of the conquest and later built their creation which was never finished.”

Mr Charrington said as different owners moved in a number of changes were made to the house.

“In they same way in modern times people come and go and they all put their own mark on it if they stay here for any length of time,” he said. “The outside looks Tudor while the inside is Edwardian and Victorian.

“Over the years bits and pieces were added and we were part of that adding toilets and a lift. The house reflects all these different stages.”

One of the corridors in the tower boasts Tudor wood panelling, but Mr Charrington said it was most likely added in by the Edwardians in 1910.

He said: “It is possible [the wood] was already here but it may have been bought from a dealer.”

Nowadays the house uses both the ground and first floor, but even in the not too distant past there would have been an upstairs/downstairs divide.

Mr Charrington said: “What is now the dining rooms would have been a store room or rooms for the servants. The great lived up on the first floor.”

The Tukes room, which has a high Tudor ceiling, is now used for events, talks and weddings.

But Mr Charrington can remember his childhood playing in the room.

“As children we used to play badminton up there but the floor was a bit rickety,” he said.

The Crowns and Crests room features items which have been loaned to the tower.

Mr Charrington said: “It would have been part of the Royal apartments. When the king or queen came to stay that room would have been used. They welcomed Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth.”

The tower is open to the public every year during July and August. They also host guided tour events throughout the year.