April 18, 2011

Norfolk. The House.

This house is incredibly important to me. I'll tell you a bit about it.

It was built in a north Norfolk village sometime in the early 17th Century, perhaps earlier, as part of the west gate buildings of the huge medieval priory next door. It is built of flint and brick - faded and speckled by the patina of several centuries of fresh air.

You can imagine how lovely it looks when the roses and honeysuckle around the door and the peonies under the windows all flower in June. Sigh. This time of year, wallflowers grow not only at the foot of many of the walls outside, but halfway up them, or on top of some as well!

In the summer housemartins and swallows swoop and dive to their nests under the eaves, so well made they seem to last from year to year.

My mother was brought up two villages to the east and everytime she passed this house, she used to think that this was the house she would live in when she grew up. It was her special house. About 15 years later, when she drove by with her fiance in the 1960s, she saw, to her horror, a 'Due for Demolition' notice had been served on it. She called the landowner and bought it off him for a song. With her mother and also her brother's family living nearby, my mum and dad came here often, most weekends, from London where they were working. As a child I spent most holidays at this house and many weekends each year. It is the only childhood home still in our family and it holds great bowlfuls of good memories for all of us.

This is the stream behind the house, and the white bridge where I learn't to race sticks ('pooh-sticks'), and where our kids did too. We used to love watching the cows trundle down here from their barns at the top of the lane, to the water meadows. Still do. They have a good view of the Priory to aid their digestion.

Would you like to see inside the house? Follow me.

One end of the bedroom my sister and I slept in as children, in bunks. Love the kelim covered chair she bought from Portabello market.

Parents' bedroom, with the very high antique four poster bed which, as a nipper,  I used to have to take a running jump at to get in, howling for weetabix no doubt! My father gave my mum the antique cradle when they were going out, my granny thought it dreadfully forward apparantly! The bookshelves, with the teacups on top, are wonky and bowing in the middle but charming to me, bit like like the whole place really.

Love a bedroom with a fireplace. This room has also got The Cubby Hole, a bed within a cupboard basically, but utterly adored by our youngest.

I really love the drawing room with a vast Elizabethan fireplace my parents found underneath a Georgian one, underneath a Victorian one, underneath two 20th Century ones!

Well, it is my childhood home, and the place we have been bringing our kids to for sixteen years now, so I guess I am totally biased, but to me it utterly rocks! To make up for this being a somewhat self-indulgent nostalgia-fest the next post holds tales of monasteries, mad monks, marauding soldiers and games of hide and seek...


  1. The thought that your family home was once at risk of demolition fills me with horror too, thank goodness your Mother rescued it. I love everything about it, inside and out, but I am passionate about old buildings so this post has been a real pleasure... thank you for sharing. Abby x

  2. This is a perfect house and you told a perfectly lovely story to go with it.

    How lucky you all are, such a beautiful place to return to.

    Maybe when I come over.....

    xo Jane

  3. I'd say "utterly rocks" is an understatement. It is beautiful.

    I especially love:

    1) The wallflowers. I had no idea there really was such a thing! How magical!

    2) The Cubby Hole. Totally jealous. Ben is too.

    3) The nesting fireplaces. SO COOL (I mean, SO HOTT). The current wood burning stove in there is also lovely. I think we have the same one, in white. Jotul?

    Bring on the monasteries, etc.



  4. So nice to get a peek into your background and life. Thanks for sharing.

    I often look at your beach photos and think of my family in Norfolk, Virginia, and compare it to yours in Norfolk, England. Our beaches once were similar to yours, but now are totally tourist-traps with sky high hotels that shade the beach every afternoon. I much prefer your more calm and peaceful place.

    This lovely home just adds another layer to your story. How lucky your parents were to be able to get it.

  5. Oh how lucky are you it is just beautiful.I would so love housemartins under my window.I love reading your blog. Lesley.x

  6. what a lovely place to spend your childhood, how anyone would have the heart to demolish that is beyond me.

  7. Wow! Well done your mother for rescuing a beautiful house and nurturing its sense of home.

  8. What a lovely home and surrounding area, so lovely that you can still visit and bring back those childhood memories x

  9. Not only saved from demolition, but restored to life by far-seeing people who knew how to love a home. Lovely post.

  10. Belinda, your childhood home is utterly charming and what a lovely story to accompany the pictures! You are fortunate that it remains in your family still and I can see why it's so cherished.

    I live in a brick and flint cottage on the northern perimeter of Suffolk and always love the sign (which is not too far away) that says 'Welcome to Nelson's County')!

    I love this period and style of house and like you I cannot wait for the jasmine to flower around the door!


  11. What an utterly lovely place. I bet it has oodles of atmosphere too. You ae so lucky to have such a house in the family.

    Sue x

  12. Belinda,

    This home is pure magic, lovely in every way!

    I'd love to see more details...it oozes with charm!

    Thank you!

  13. Beautiful house Belinda and so good that it is still part of your family.
    Julie x

  14. Absolutely charming, a true English countryhouse!

  15. Hi Belinda,
    I loved your story about the house. Charming and adorable. I especially liked the The Cubby Hole and the wonky book shelves.
    Ingrid xoxo

  16. I see it, I saw it, a Jan van Eyck style portrait in the mirror ;~)

  17. oh this is just crazy beautiful. what a fantastic story. i love the fireplaces and the bowed shelving - all of it.


  18. what a handsome house. I love it's proportions and windows, in particular. The simple railings are pleasing too. Thank you for a tour round it. Such a pretty and interesting home.
    Katie x

  19. Such a beautiful post Belinda and such a beautiful house.

    Nina x

  20. Thank you all for your kind words about my childhood house by the sea.

    E.Eye, oh my gosh, I missed that, eeek!

  21. Belinda,

    I have loved reading about your family home in Norfolk and the area in general. Your pictures are lovely.


  22. What a wonderful story. The house is utterly gorgeous, to think it could have been demolished! How funny the bit about your grandma and the cradle. It is so lovely to have family history like that, no wonder you think "it rocks" so do I! Love Linda x