The Umbrello is a rare Grade 2* listed building. Although it lies within the estate of Great Saxham Hall, it is in fact located within the parish of Little Saxham.
Its survival is quite remarkable. It is one of only a few garden buildings constructed of Coade stone. This white man-made material is crucial to the Umbrello's continued existence. Being a ceramic product, produced at a factory in Lambeth between 1769 and about 1835, Coade is impervious to heat and is particularly resilient to damp and frost.
The Umbrello is octagonal, with each of its eight facades identical. Once the mould had been made it was then a matter of repeating this seven times.
At the base of six of its eight columns, the Umbrello is stamped in tiny letters 'Coade & Sealy, Lambeth', which dates it between 1799 and 1815 when John Sealy was with the firm. As it did not feature in Isaac Johnson's Estate Survey of 1801, we may assume that it was built after this. At that time Thomas Mills was Lord of the Manor (residing at Great Saxham Hall).
The domed roof, made of lead, has long since disappeared, thanks to vandals, and the Umbrello is now in danger of being choked by weeds. It is situated on private property, so the only way it can be viewed is by contacting the owner of Great Saxham Hall.
Probably the most famous (and most photographed) coade stone artifact is the lion that stands on the south side of Westminster Bridge, in London.
Click here for more information on Coade stone.