Norfolk home: seafront family home in Cromer
PUBLISHED: 15:37 06 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:38 06 August 2018
We take a peek inside a much-loved family holiday home in Cromer
Standing on the end of Cromer Pier, looking back at the town, three period buildings catch the eye. From left to right, first is The Crescent, a Georgian terrace of town houses at the top of the Gangway.
Numbers one to four are some of the oldest houses in Cromer built two storeys high in 1821/2. The top floors, bay windows and balconies were added in the later 19th century.
Next is Cromer Church, the present one built in the 14th. century and finally the Hotel de Paris, which was originally Lord Suffield’s marine residence. It was rented to Pierre Le Francoise and by 1845 was being called by its present name.
The present building was designed by famous architect George John Skipper in 1891. With the coming of the Great Eastern railway in 1877, visitors increased and the accompanying publicity started by the travel writer and theatre critic Clement Scott – who coined the name Poppyland for the area – led to a further rush of visitors in the final decade of the 19th century. Thankfully these wonderful buildings and of course the pier, still survive to be appreciated by today’s generations.
Having always admired the Georgian terrace, I was delighted to be invited by Graham Prince, owner of No. 2 The Crescent, grade 2 listed, to look around and meet the family. The property has naturally commanding views of over 180 degrees from west to east of the town, the coast, the famous pier and the cliffs. It’s probably one of the best views in Cromer.
“We love the location,” explains Graham, “which is wonderful all year, but particularly comes into its own for the Cromer Carnival air display, which often includes the Red Arrows. It really is an grandstand display from up here with some planes literally at eye level.”
Graham, born and brought up near Watford, went into the legal profession, but his love of plants and gardens led him into horticulture and he provides plants for commercial premises, although he is now on a sabbatical.
“I purchased the house in 1994 from Patricia Boswell-Sands,” says Graham, “wife of Patrick Boswell the well-known local artist. The house was used as a holiday home and my three older daughters, Emma, Margot and Lucy grew up having many happy summer holidays here. Cromer is such a friendly town.”
Ten years ago Graham and Shirley decided to refurbish and modernise the house and this took four years under Shirley’s guidance. The house is now the regular holiday home for Graham and Shirley’s children, Joe, 12, and Connie, 10, as well as being visited regularly by Graham’s older girls (now in their mid 20’s) who often take a group of friends for a Cromer weekend. The girls really approve of the upgrades to the house!
Shirley, originally from West London is a consultant orthodontist. During the interview, daughter Connie wanders in, so I ask her what she likes about here. “Being so close to the sea,” replies Connie. “Joe and I are very into surfing and go to the surf school just below on the beach during the summer school holidays. Cromer has the best surfing waves and although we need our wet suits, we just love every minute of it.
“In the town, we have a super bakery around the corner and we love going to the cinema some evenings.”
Joe joins us so I ask him the same. “The sea and the surfing and playing on the beach in the summer, walks to Overstrand in the winter. Also, us kids love having an entire top floor to ourselves. The cinema is great and so is the sweet shop around the corner. We always have very good holidays.”
“We live in a converted school in London,” adds Shirley, “so the position of No. 2 The Crescent Cromer, is fantastic. It really is a home from home, a comfy, sympathetic family house, where everyone can relax, with lots of fresh air, by the sea.
“This is something lots of our guests also find with over 70% returning. One family from the Midlands have been coming every May for the last 14 years. ”
“Graham and I,” continues Shirley, “love the master bedroom, a definite favourite, with the wonderful balcony with room to sit out and admire the sea and life on the beach with the fishing boats going out to get Cromer crab.
“I also love the art deco dressing table in there, which Graham bought with a legacy from his grandmother As the children have mentioned Cromer really does have everything, in our opinion the best place on the north Norfolk coast. The shops, pubs, restaurants, naturally the coast and pier with its theatre, all make for the quintessential seaside holiday.”
“My total joy is being able to just park the car outside and then leave it till we go home,” says Graham. “Everything is to hand for all the family. If we do venture further afield as art lovers we like both The Bircham Gallery and Baron Gallery in Holt, followed by a seal trip from Blakeney.
“Another joy is a sundowner on the Pier with the family – maybe the kids trying to catch crabs – or a drink at The Red Lion almost next door and a meal at The Rocket House, just two minutes away. Its just so nice being able to do things together.
“Certainly our most magical moment has to be standing on the balcony, watching the Red Arrows fly by and also the fireworks display at Cromer Carnival.
“I was very fortunate to have been in the position to see and buy this unique property in the first place, which has allowed my two families of children to enjoy traditional seaside fun, so the delights of the town and the house are being appreciated and passed onto new generations to get great pleasure from as intended, in a most beautiful county.”
Owners: Graham Prince and Shirley Cox, plus children Joe, 12, Connie, 10.
Property: Grade II Georgian crescent seafront terraced house.
Built: 1821, with later additions.
Professions: Graham is in horticulture, presently taking a one year sabbatical and Shirley is a consultant orthodontist.
Other home: London town house.
Favourite room: The master bedroom, with balcony and views over the promenade, beach and sea.
Favourite item: Art deco desk used as a dressing table in master bedroom.
Favourite interiors shop: Heals in London and Baron Arts plus Bircham Gallery, Holt.
Favourite other shop locally: Cromer Farm Shop in Tucker Street, plus Icarus Hines, butchers and Davies fishmongers.
Favourite part of the county: Has to be here, Cromer!
Favourite day out: Seal trip from Blakeney.
Favourite waste of time: A sundowner in the bar at the end of the pier watching the sunset.
Favourite walk: With family and friends, plus our dog Rebb, along the cliff top to Overstrand.
Favourite pub: The Red Lion next door or The Rocket House Cafe opposite.
Favourite restaurant: Galton Blackiston’s Morston Hall.
Hobbies: Looking after and improving the house, which looks after us all so well.
Most magical moment in the county: Standing on our balcony, watching the Red Arrows at Cromer Carnival.
2 The Crescent, Cromer is available for holiday lettings through Norfolk Cottages
01263 715799 | norfolkcottages.co.uk