Interiors: take a tour of a stylish Cromer cottage
PUBLISHED: 12:07 16 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:07 16 January 2018
Tony Hall takes us around a cottage in one of his favourite Norfolk places
Who can resist the seafood in Cromer? Cockles, the famous crabs, lobsters, fish and chips; for me as a fish eater, Cromer is bliss and one of my favourite places. Now there’s a super new cottage, centrally located, for people looking to stay in this ‘Gem of the Norfolk Coast.’
It is owned by Penny and Mike Jones. Penny will be well-known to many as she was one of the driving forces of Norfolk Hideaways, helping establish what was then a new cottage holiday agency back in 2009.
Penny decided to leave and concentrate on the couple’s own holiday properties situated in the historic village of Overstrand and Crabpot Cottages was born. They then decided to branch out into Cromer, and found Cockle Cottage.
“My father,” explains Penny, “comes from Shetland. Living there one had to be very self-sufficient, resourceful, very hands-on, which is what he taught me. With all the properties I have done a lot of the work myself and this one was no exception, although I do need professionals to help reinstate. Here the cottage needed everything new, including central heating, kitchen and bathroom.”
Cockle Cottage is a single-storey detached part of the old Victorian board school right in the heart of old Cromer, two minutes from the shops and four minutes from the sea front. In 1947 it was three schools in one, infants, boy, girls and remained as such till the early 1990s when it was relocated and the site sold to a developer. It was converted into dwellings, retaining many original features and offering the added bonus of car parking.
“What attracted me to this property,” adds Penny, “was it being a detached period building, in a lovely position, so central but a peaceful oasis.
“Property has always been in my blood. Together with my first husband, we renovated a derelict cottage at Grimston and formed a full-time property development company, which we both enjoyed. We lived there many years, while the children were growing up,” says Penny. “We then built our own house at Great Massingham which we oversaw and project-managed ourselves. I am never happier than when I am in my boiler suit, wielding a sledge hammer. I love going into a run-down house and imagining it as a finished result.
“I first met Mike when I was doing up a 1930s house in Hunstanton,” continues Penny. “He walked in and looked in horror as the neat little house he had viewed now had no ceilings, kitchen or bathroom. Wires were all hanging down and half the roof was off to accommodate a new dormer window. I was in the ubiquitous boiler suit and had an inch of dust in my hair. He did ask me if I knew what I was doing, but I don’t remember my reply!
“When it came to building the portfolio of holiday properties,” explains Penny, “I have always loved Cromer, where you can access the sea easily. Beautiful beaches, a wonderful pier, great shops and people. I therefore decided to concentrate along this end of the coast and now have holiday rental properties from Overstrand, where we have our own bolthole, to Cley. I want to keep the company small, so intend to limit the number of homes, hand-picking properties we feel reflect our business ethos.
“With Cockle Cottage my favourite room is the sitting room, which is bright and sunny and overlooks the courtyard garden. It has a very relaxing feel. My favourite item at Cockle has to be the Meredew 1950s sideboard, which is a piece I feel sums up the place; very relaxed. A frequent walk we enjoy is along the cliffs and golf course from Overstrand to Cromer, just watching the ever-changing Norfolk skies and sea. A favourite day out, by total contrast, is to Norwich where my son lives. We enjoy going around The Lanes and maybe ending up at the best Indian restaurant around, the Merchants of Spice.
“Locally we enjoy The Gunton Arms pub, set in a deer park. It has great food and ambience with fantastic art on the walls. When I get time I like to write short stories and poems and I also love photography. Together with Mike I try and play golf both here in Cromer and at Hunstanton.”
“So much do we love Cromer,” concludes Penny, “that when Mike and I tied the knot and got married we had the ceremony at North Lodge Park, the house overlooking the Henry Blogg memorial and sea, before walking down to reception at our favourite restaurant, The Rocket House, overlooking the fishing boats, sea and beach; just amazing.
“Cromer is having a definite renaissance and people are realising just how much is on offer here for the perfect seaside holiday, including the now famous End of the Pier Summer Show in The Pavilion Theatre. There are things to do throughout the year in this super county and Cromer has it all.”
Cockle Cottage, Cromer, can be booked for holiday lets. Contact: Penny or Mike on 01263 579435, 07771 643 359
Owners: Penny and Mike Jones
Property: Conversion of part of the former Victorian Board School.
Location: Cromer town centre.
Moved in: 2016
Professions: Penny and Mike own and run Crabpot Cottages www.crabpotcottages.co.uk
Favourite room: The sitting room, as it’s bright and sunny, overlooking the courtyard and garden and has a very relaxed feel.
Favourite item: The Meredew 1950s colourful sideboard in the sitting room. It came from Sara Holt at Snettisham. It is a true classic piece of mid century retro. “I love it,” says Penny.
Favourite interiors shop: Ciclic in Swaffham. Lots of different things for interiors and of course Sara Holt as above.
Favourite shop: In Cromer it has to be The Farm Shop in Tucker Street, by the church. It has a great range of fruit and veg, wines and beers and a special range of frozen convenience meals, ideal for holidays. Also we like the hardware shop in Cromer High Street. and in Overstrand the village stores.
Favourite part of the county: Besides Cromer of course, it has to be Overstrand. Lots of history and quite beautiful, with two houses by Edwin Lutyens. Every house tells a story and there’s a great beach.
Favourite day out: A day in Norwich, to see my son. There is always something going on. We love The Lanes and perhaps a meal at The Merchants of Spice, the best Indian in Norwich.
Favourite walk: Cromer along the cliffs and golf course to Overstrand.
Favourite pub: Has to be The Gunton Arms. Lots of art on the walls. It’s totally unique and wacky. Location is by a deer park.
Favourite restaurant: The Rocket House Cromer, overlooking the beach and fishing boats. It’s where we had our wedding reception, which shows how much we love it. Robbie and his team have got it right.
Hobbies: Penny says: I like writing both short stories and poems. I also love photography. Mike and I like playing golf, both at Cromer and also Hunstanton. We also enjoy our allotment.
Most memorable Norfolk moment: My most memorable moment in Norfolk was getting married at North Lodge Park Cromer this year, overlooking the grey stormy boiling sea, right in front of the Henry Blogg statue. We went outside in a howling gale after we got married and had our photo taken, rubbing his nose for good luck!