Staycation: The Old Stables at Godwick Hall, Norfolk
by Sharon Parsons
Read our review of Godwick Old Stables, set on a country estate in the rural heartland of north Norfolk.
A stylishly converted 19th-century stable block in 100 acres of parkland in north Norfolk proves the perfect place for Sharon Parsons and friends to enjoy a get-together. Along with Godwick Old Stables, the estate includes other guest accommodation – a Georgian Old Hall and three little shepherd’s huts – while an historic medieval barn (now used as a wedding venue) and a notable ‘lost’ medieval village lend a fascinating sense of the past.
Where is it?
Set in 100 acres of parkland between the county towns of Swaffham and Fakenham.
What's the accommodation like?
The newly renovated Godwick Old Stables, across the yard from the Old Hall, has a fresh, modern vibe: think white vaulted ceilings, pale floors, an enormous comfy couch and woodburner in the sitting room, and a big sociable kitchen that features all mod cons, including a handy wine fridge and Nespresso machine.
The three double bedrooms are boutique-hotel stylish – one room features a contemporary four-poster, another an open-plan bathroom – and all have wonderfully bold murals across the bedhead walls. Gleaming ensuites with rain-head showers add to the luxury feel, as do the crisp white linens, floaty drapes, slippers, fluffy towels and delicious Faith In Nature toiletries.
Outside are two seating areas: the one overlooking the pretty garden has a barbecue and looks out to the parkland and site of the historic barn, lost medieval village and church tower ruins.
What did you eat and drink?
There’s a huge choice of gastropubs and restaurants in this part of north Norfolk. At the Dun Cow at Salthouse, for instance, there’s an emphasis on the fantastic local fish and seafood. We went for starters of crispy Thai crab and cod bon bons, and fine beans with salty feta and olives. I then chose a delicious fresh Cromer crab in garlic butter with new potatoes and a punchy aioli, accompanied by a pale, dry rosé, while my partner opted for a juicy Red Poll rump steak with hot, crisp frites, washed down with a pint of Adnams Ghost Ship.
Self-catering was easy, thanks to the huge variety of quality foodie shops dotted around the county, many of which specialise in wonderful local produce: we especially liked Picnic Fayre at Cley-next-the-Sea, and Gurneys fishmongers – with the Humble Pie Delicatessen above it – in Burnham Market. There was also a lovely hamper of Norfolk goodies waiting for us at Godwick Old Stables, which was very much appreciated!
What is there to do?
So much – you’ll never be bored in north Norfolk! History lovers should make for the many stately homes in the area, including the Palladian Holkham Hall, while pootling around the pretty towns and villages is a lovely way to while away a few hours. We especially loved Cley-next-the-Sea: after parking beside the shingle beach, we walked through the peaceful nature reserve – noted for its incredible bird life – to the village with its Dutch-gabled rooftops and famous 18th-century windmill. This region is renowned for its 45-mile sweep of coast with award-winning beaches, harbours and estuaries, along with its wildlife (you can spot colonies of seals at Blakeney Point Nature Reserve, for instance).
What do I need to pack?
We went for casual, as we weren’t planning to do more than sightsee during the day, chill out in our ‘home from home’ or pop to a relaxed pub for dinner in the evening, though it’s worth packing for all weathers on a British break! Comfortable walking shoes are a must though – and perhaps bring the binoculars to spot those birds and seals!
Sainsbury's magazine insider tip
Visit Stiffkey Stores in the village of the same name (pronounced ‘stewkey’). This former coach house and flower-filled courtyard is a hotchpotch of delights – from a sweet café and quality homewares shop to a characterful general store, with homemade cakes and a trestle table groaning with local produce.
How to book
The Old Stables sleeps six in three bedrooms. Prices start at £1,150 for a three-night weekend and rise to £1,800 for a seven-night break. Visit godwickhall.co.uk/the-old-stables for further information.