Norfolk house: Peaceful family home near Briston
PUBLISHED: 10:47 16 September 2019 | UPDATED: 10:47 16 September 2019
A little oasis of peace and quiet in a busy world delights Tony Hall
So many of the homes I have photographed over 30 years look wonderful but, sadly for me, are sometimes spoilt by a pet hate of mine, noise, either local or traffic. Therefore what a delight to meet Tim and Rachel at Roe Deer Barn, one of two barn conversions they have skilfully created on their smallholding, just outside Briston.
This talented couple have transformed an agricultural building into two stunning holiday homes overlooking a small lake, which attracts lots of wildlife. There are ducks on the water, sheep in the surrounding meadows and rural views, but the finest thing is the total silence. Divine!
Both are locals, born in West Runton. "The smallholding has been in the family for over 50 years," says Tim. "On leaving university, I came to work here. However when Rachel and I started our family I began teaching maths, first in Essex, but then back here in Norwich, for more security. I have always been a keen sportsman, playing most sports at school and after leaving playing rugby for Holt. It was at a post-match gathering in The Feathers Hotel I met Rachel."
Rachel went to Sheringham High, leaving to become a hairdresser followed by doing family support for the Break Charity. Twelve years ago she went to the UEA as a mature student to study for a Masters in psychotherapy and now applies her skills a couple of days a week counselling at Gresham's as well as working with private clients at home.
"We are both very relaxed, quiet people and it was that which attracted me to Tim. Geographically, we haven't really moved far - when we relocated down the street from the village to the farm, we moved our possessions on the back of a tractor," says Rachel.
"Tim's first real building project was to convert the loft into bedrooms, but as he enjoyed the process so much I knew he would be soon looking for more hands-on work. When we came up with the idea of trying for planning permission to convert the old farm barn, Tim would come down here and ponder for hours and we'd sit on old tree stumps discussing the plans.
"We've always loved visiting Pensthorpe so it was a natural progression to try to add our own little wildlife sanctuary by way of the small lake outside the barn."
"I have to admit," says Tim, "the process needed great perseverance, as I had six attempts at gaining planning permission. By coming down here every day after working in school, I appreciated what different light and nature did for the site and wanted a building that would reflect and cope with all seasons, taking advantage of the space - the project quietly evolved to be far better than we had originally planned or, indeed, hoped for."
The barn has four bedrooms and en-suites, (Muntjac, the other, has five double bedrooms all with en-suites), and both have spacious living/dining/kitchen open plan areas, with a vaulted ceiling to the apex and these special views over the lake.
Tim and Rachel have been hands-on with the build throughout, doing more or less everything themselves, except the electricity. This included the creation of the pond, with three generations of the family manhandling the liner into position.
Tim has also built a lot of the furniture himself, including tables and console shelves from old scaffold boards found at Fakenham Reclaim. I ask him for his feelings on this successful build.
Being a modest man, he said; "satisfaction" and, after some hesitation, "pride".
"This is such a tranquil spot that when the barn is not occupied I always come down early for my breakfast by the water. It is such a peaceful happy place and it's great to see guests relaxed and smiling."
"Briston is a short drive from Holt and the coast," says Rachel. "It is getting better and better with a fresh fish shop, award-winning butchery, a bakery, Post Office, Mace and Co-op and an Indian take-away.
"The old Three Horseshoes pub has recently been bought by people we know who are carrying out major improvements and making it lovely, so that is going to be a huge plus for us all.
"On site, in another secluded barn, we have created a games room with pool, table tennis and air hockey and a small play park, so there is plenty to do if you want. What is nice is we are getting multi-generational families, as they can rent both barns if needed.
"However, we do find many come for time to relax, reflect and enjoy this silence, which is normally so hard to find. Looking and listening to nature and wildlife around you, with our famous big skies, is for all of us the very best tonic," she says.
"Our children, Lucy, 22, and Izzie, 20, now at university, have been very much the driving force that has motivated us and are the point of everything we do, energising us always as a family unit.
"We hope in time they will return on a more permanent basis to our family home, and maybe into the barns. This peaceful haven in delightful Norfolk countryside says a lot about us, it is what you see on the tin; middle of nowhere, centre of nverywhere…" Tim just adds:"Proper peaceful!"
Roe Deer and Muntjac Barns at Boundary Farm, Briston are available for holiday letting through Norfolk Cottages
6, High Street Holt, 01263 715779
firstname.lastname@example.org | norfolkcottages.co.uk
Owners: Tim Berwick and Rachel Lubbuck, with daughters Lucy and Izzy
Property: Converted agricultural barn.
Professions: Tim is a maths teacher and Rachel is a psychotherapist.
Favourite room: The main living/dining/kitchen with the window to the lake.
Favourite item: The footstool below the picture window, which Tim and Rachel made.
Favourite interiors shop: Thornage Antiques.
Favourite other shop: The fresh fish shop in Briston.
Favourite part of the county: Here to Blickling.
Favourite day out: Pensthorpe; in the outer parts you can be on your own and it is bliss.
Favourite waste of time: Sitting in one of the armchairs, looking at the ducks on the lake and the sheep in the fields.
Favourite walk: Around either Blickling or Felbrigg.
Favourite pub: Our new pub in the village, completely revamped: The Three Horseshoes.
Favourite cafe or restaurant: Saracen's Head at Wolterton.
Hobbies: Tim; golf at Sheringham. Rachel; eating, especially cakes. Both enjoy walking their two dogs, Tilly the terrier and Monty the Lhasa Apso.
Most magical moment in the county: Getting engaged eight years ago at Oxburgh Hall, in the sunshine. We both appreciate what we have got and are very happy being together.