Norfolk Retreat

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It’s such a treat every time I get to travel to the countryside and the rural coastline of Norfolk, to my mind one of the finest counties in England. I have visited Norfolk on quite a few occasions but this time, it is truly extra special in the winter months when the country pub becomes even cosier and this magnificent stately home of Holkham Hall turns its attention to Christmassy affairs.



And it’s always so much more fun travelling with friends and family when you need a great escape from London and you are looking forward to a long-awaited wind-down with a glass of mulled wine in hand. After 3 hours’ drive, you will find your eagerly anticipated reward as you get to jump on to the oh-so welcoming bed with a big sigh! As always, it’s a pleasure to enjoy the “home from home” feel at the cosy Victoria Inn, located in Holkham, just a short distance away from Wells-Next-the-Sea.



As soon I change into my smart attire, I dash out to Holkham Hall, which has been turned into a Christmas-galore experience. Honestly, Christmas surely makes everything look special with that extra splash of decoration creating an atmosphere which only happens once a year – such a perfect time and setting to celebrate in style with family and friends. The Marble Hall, especially, has always been one of my favourite rooms, with its floor-to-ceiling Corinthians columns and an abundance of Christmas trees filling this magnificent room.



But, as you know it’s not always about the glitz and glamour during this festive month. I do tend to enjoy a down to earth environment, especially at the local pub with its friendly customers, sitting opposite the roaring open fire with an endless glass of bubbly. At this moment, with just a tiny amount of time, we should all take the opportunity to sit back and think for a little while, “I feel so lucky and grateful for everything I have in life”. The next morning, a hearty locally-sourced English Breakfast is a perfect way to start the day before heading off to the next town. Soon we are driving along the quintessentially British zig-zagging road, lined with rows of winter-bare “stick” trees and picturesque cottages, just like the one from the film called, “The Holiday”. Eventually, we come to the beautiful Georgian village of Burnham Market. Situated a stone’s throw away from the glorious North Norfolk coastline, famous for its many stunning beaches, wide open spaces, some of the best coastal walks, renowned restaurants and hotels, Burnham Market is the perfect place to shop, dine or simply stay awhile and revel in being part of the traditional village atmosphere.



They not only have a traditional post office, butcher, hardware shop, fish shop and chemist for all the necessities of everyday life, they also have over 30 highly original independent and specialist shops, beauty salons, and galleries. Hold on to this one, we all need to check into another place for the night. Soon we all arrive in the stunning newly refurbished part-turreted Georgian country manor, known as “The White House” just a short distance away from Burnham Market. The house itself, originally a roofless ruin with no walls, underwent a complete restoration, which took around one year. But, fast forwarding to today, the owner has now transformed the 12-bedrooms in the house and cottages to the true splendour and it’s hard to believe how this beautiful manor now looks so pleasingly welcoming.



We must now turn our attention to inside the manor, with all its interiors tastefully done. There are sumptuous plush furnishings, blackout curtains, marble-clad bathrooms complemented by 100 Acre amenities, and fabulous fabric headboards by Clockhouse Design in Scotland. My favourite room was the Turret room with its high vaulted ceiling, exposed beams, and beautiful curved sash windows.  A pretty dressing table and huge silver framed mirror complete the whole ensemble in this spacious bedroom, which overlooks the countryside and the rural view is completed by the pair of horses gently trotting along the road.



I have been recommended to try out the new restaurant in town, called 20 North Street Cafe and Bistro. The atmosphere is quite cosy in this lovely building, which was formerly a church and then a decade later, was transformed into a small village school. The menu offers tasty and unique British dishes with European influences, inspired by Norfolk’s plentiful local produce. Honestly, one of the best meals I’ve had in ages and I am pleased to try this restaurant out.



The next morning, we enjoy a breakfast feast of pancakes, porridge, and a full English breakfast, with a choice of freshly squeezed orange juice or Sandringham Apple Juice (Sandringham House, one of the Queen’s residences today, is only 25 minutes’ drive away).



A top up of toast, cereal and a hot pot of tea or coffee is the perfect start to a day of exploration and adventure. It has been a true privilege to have the house to ourselves and we have felt very much at home. An ideal setting for throwing a weekend party, a lavish dinner or any special celebration, with easy accommodation for up to 24 guests. A perfect way to celebrate in style at this beautiful manor house in the rural countryside.

Photos by Diana Martin Photography

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