St. Peter’s Hall dates from around 1280 (the Library Bar area) but was extended in 1539 using 14th and 15th Century ‘architectural salvage’ taken from Flixton Priory, a monastic establishment dissolved by Cardinal Wolsey in the 1520’s.
This mini-dissolution by Wolsey involved about 20 religious establishments and provided Wolsey with the cash to endow Ipswich Grammar School and Christchurch College Oxford, in his honour. More importantly, it gave Henry VIII the idea for the wholesale dissolution of the monasteries in the mid to late 1530’s which provided the monarchy with unbelievable wealth and changed the face of the United Kingdom for ever. Once Wolsey had dissolved Flixton Priory he set about turning it into cash. Thus the land, furniture, plate etc., and even the building materials were sold off.
In fact, the building materials from Flixton Priory were particularly valuable as they consisted of Caen stone from Normandy, an immensely valuable material in a region where no stone, only brick and flint exists and where Caen stone had hitherto been available only to the wealthiest sections of society, especially the church.
Mr Tasburgh, the owner of St. Peter’s Hall, bought the ecclesiastical windows and the porch and associated parts of Flixton Priory and in 1538/39 hired a group of workmen to build an extension to his house using these materials. The workmen included John Collet, William Angell, Richard Doubleday and Thomas Blithe as well as Peter Vyknell, recorded as a Frenchman but probably from modern-day Belgium.
In the Summer of 1539 a feast was held in the Great Hall to commemorate the completion of the work and, it would seem, too much beer was drunk as some of the guests started to sing a ballett (ballad) against the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) and Peter Vyknell then remarked that he wanted to tell the Bishop of Rome how Englishmen railed and jested at him.
1539 was the year before the Reformation and the break with Rome and at the time Henry VIII was being holier than the Pope. As a result, Peter Vyknell was hauled off before an Ecclesiastical Court in Norwich on Christmas Day 1539 and accused of anti-popery. Fortunately for him, within months his heretic views had become orthodox.