Mention the word Gate House and in most people’s minds it conjures up the English dictionaries definition of a small house at a gate that leads into a park, castle or other large building, often lived in by someone who takes care of the estate. Which is exactly what the Gate House at the entrance to Wolterton Park, a stunning 18th century 500-acre estate in North Norfolk used to be, but now it’s been utterly transformed into a little piece of heritage heaven!
This Grade II listed building takes centre stage at the entrance to the Park and is the latest property on the estate to be brought back to its former glory by award-winning interior designer owners Peter Sheppard and partner Keith Day who bought the Park back in 2016 and have slowly been turning the whole estate back into a peaceful haven in the Norfolk countryside.
If first impressions are anything to go by, we are in for a real treat. The charming Georgian building greets us with its private gardens and stone columned portico that was brought from St Anne’s house, Kings Lynn in 1914.
Stepping through the large impressive front door it is more than evident how much care, thought and love has gone into the restoration, from the 18th century reclaimed panelling in the hallway to the Persian rugs and eclectic array of paintings and pictures everywhere – Your eyes dart from one to the other wondering what stories they have to tell.
There’s two cosy sitting rooms, one is perfect for taking morning coffee as the sun shines through the window accentuating the many period pieces of furniture and crystal chandelier. The marble fireplace complete with open fire and logs is the essence of warmth and relaxation. The other sitting room has a more relaxed atmosphere and lends itself for curling up by the fire and simply chilling after a busy day exploring North Norfolk and all it has to offer.
The 18th century panelling continues upstairs in one of the bedrooms (there are 3 bedrooms – 2 doubles upstairs and 1 single downstairs) painted a heritage duck egg blue, with 18th century hand painted Dutch tiles in the fireplace, this is my favourite bedroom. The dark antique furniture against the blue panelling, exposed wooden floorboards and rugs, create a visually rich combination of understated grandeur.
Both upstairs bedrooms have their own ensuite bathrooms, one with ‘Jack and Jill’ doors leading onto the landing. Both beautifully appointed with cast iron baths, Burlington basins and large walk in showers, the interior genius behind the design is imagination at its best.
Back downstairs, to the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of the house – The kitchen. The aesthetics here are a mix of country cottage chic and traditional farmhouse. Daylight floods through the tall window creating a bright and airy space. The large wooden table takes centre stage, and the kitchen itself is equipped with all the mod cons you could possibly need, all blending with the traditional effortlessly.
The stable door leads out into the private garden, perfect for sitting in the evening with a cool glass of wine watching the sun slowly fade away or greeting the sheep in the field next to the gate with your morning coffee, a beautiful, tranquil space to relax and breath in the fresh country air.
Exploring the Estate is a must, whether it’s taking out one of the canoes on the private lake, enjoying a little horse riding, or just a leisurely stroll there is so much to see and do, and of course you can’t stay here and not wander up the long drive to the main house and take delight in a tour (included in all stays) where you can see the splendour and impressiveness Sheppard and Day have created in all the rooms of this palatial home.
The Estate is perfectly situated for exploring the many beaches and quaint towns North Norfolk has to offer, be it a stroll along the soft, golden sand at Wells-next-the-Sea or a visit to Sheringham, a traditional seaside town, grown around an old fishing village, you’ll never tire of the abundance of things to do and see.
Be sure to pay the historic Georgian town of Holt a visit. Around every corner there’s something of interest, from charming courtyards and alleyways to hidden boutiques and coffee shops and for the more cultured amongst us, there’s art galleries and book shops galore! If you only have a small amount of time to spend in Holt, then it has to be Afternoon Tea at ‘Byfords’. This higgledy-piggledy building is thought to be the oldest house in Holt (the cellar dates back to the 15th century), a survivor of the great fire of Holt in 1708 and a further fire in the building in 1906.
With so many local pubs and restaurants within walking distance or a short drive from The Gate House, you’ll never go hungry. Two of our favourites were The Saracens Head, a Georgian Inn within walking distance of the Estate. Wholesome British ingredients are showcased throughout their mouth-watering menu. We tempted our taste buds with cauliflower veloute and Tandoori pigeon in a chipotle and cashew sauce, this was an utterly delightful dish, full of strong flavours and textures.
Roast chicken breast with brioche pudding and Norfolk venison loin served with black pudding croquettes followed, both dishes produced a burst of flavour that was a simply delicious.
If your palette prefers a more Mediterranean tapas style dining experience then The Suffield Arms near Cromer should be on your radar. Quirky, interesting and full of fascinating artwork and history. The selection of tapas dishes offers something for everyone’s palette. Particular favourites were the garlic King prawns, scallops, slow cooked pig’s cheeks and harissa lamb, all beyond flavoursome and cooked beyond perfection.
Once all the exploring and eating is finished it’s time to head back to The Gate House, a union of timeless elegance, contemporary comfort and effortless luxury, all in the heart of the Wolterton Estate, it sets the standard for so much more than just a place to stay, it’s a home that you never want to leave.
The Gate House is a Charming Georgian cottage with private gardens situated at the entrance to the Wolterton Estate.
Accommodation for up to 5 guests, prices from £1053 for a three night stay.
Book at www.woltertonpark.co.uk.