Home and interiors: The Orangery at Snettisham
PUBLISHED: 13:50 07 November 2017 | UPDATED: 13:50 07 November 2017
A modern building with a nod to the heritage of the next-door country house, The Orangery at Snettisham has much to commend it
In my constant quest to bring you unusual and interesting homes, I was very taken by this orangery, near Snettisham in north Norfolk. (Incidentally should readers have a quirky property, do let me know.) The building is in fact modern, built in 2001 by a previous owner. At the time there was an outhouse which burned down, so when it came to rebuilding the authorities insisted on a period style building to blend with it’s surroundings, situated as it in the secluded grounds of the west wing of Snettisham House which is Grade II listed and protected.
The house was built in the 18th century, perhaps incorporating the home of the Cobbe family who lived there from the mid 16th century until the 19th century. This delightful location really is away from it all.
Fast forward to 2013, when Alan and Brenda were looking for a place to retire to. As is often the case, having spent many family holidays over the years along the North Norfolk coast, this is where they searched. Alan, who was a lecturer, and Brenda, originally from Newcastle, had moved to Leicestershire, setting up their first home in Rutland. She worked in banking for many years, finally retiring three years ago. They had one daughter, Claire.
“The first proviso,” recalls Brenda, “was to be no more than an hour’s travelling from where Claire lives in Lincolnshire. In Rutland we lived in an old four bedroom cottage built in 1860. Our wish list included somewhere preferably hidden away, a rural setting, not in a tourist village, yet close enough to both amenities and the coast.
“Alan also thought having the possibility of a holiday let in the grounds would be the icing on the cake. As soon as we viewed here, it fitted all the requirements, but needed improvements. It is surrounded by a deer park and had the added advantage of this orangery in the grounds, which clinched the purchase. When we first saw the property it was autumn and we were thrilled to see the skeins of pink-footed geese flying over towards the RSPB reserve at Snettisham. As outside people, we loved it and knew that Alan could pursue his love of painting here.”
Their daughter Claire took over the ownership and management of The Orangery. Claire, who was born and raised in Rutland, went on from Stamford High to Newcastle University to study rural land management. She worked in environmental management for Anglian Water before moving to the commercial income side for them, where she stayed for many years, before starting a family.
Her husband Andrew went to the Stamford Boys School and met Claire after his time at Cirencester Agricultural College. They live on an arable farm near Spalding with their three daughters, Isabelle,12, Felicity, nine, and Charlotte, four, plus labrador Tilly.
“The Orangery needed renovation,” explains Claire, “and my idea was to start from scratch with the building and interior design to create a very special home from home, which could also be used as a holiday let which I would manage. My starting point was to echo the surroundings, so as an orangery, I have chosen botanical fabrics for the curtains and neutral colours, adding odd slashes of colour here and there.
“Essential was to make it cosy and calm, but simple. You will see odd references to deer, both in pictures and ornaments, due to the deer park next door. My first ever item, which has received a lot of interest, is the rug in the sitting room. I then tried to link items to it, to give a cosy feel. I particularly love it here in winter where you can snuggle down after an exhilarating walk, as the central heating is brilliant. I have also tried to provide absolutely everything anyone might need.
“There is a newly-fitted and fully-equipped kitchen and bathroom, a toy basket for visiting children, in case the car is already full, plus bed rails to the twin beds and a high chair and crockery for the children are all provided.
“The sitting room is my favourite, as I love the vaulted ceiling,” adds Claire, “and the fabrics throughout are firm favourites as is the sunburst mirror in the hall. When the girls are here we enjoy the walk around the woods at Sandringham, only five minutes’ drive away. They have a nice café and we sometimes take the bikes to ride. Andrew and the girls really like going crabbing at Burnham Overy Staithe. Sometimes on a wet summer evening during harvest, he escapes the farm, drives over and off they go.
“We are very fortunate in having an award-winning pub in the village, The Rose and Crown. It is our favourite and only a few minutes’ walk away. It still has very much the feel of a traditional local for locals. There’s a Saturday cricket club and they do great food, and have an enclosed garden play area, which is very popular. Further afield it has to be the beach at Old Hunstanton and the great café there.
“The girls, who like us spend a lot of time outdoors, enjoy a trip to watch the birds at Pensthorpe. When I get time, I am to be found either horse riding, playing tennis or doing some baking and in winter, on the odd day, I accompany Andrew on a shoot, which is a great social event.”
“Now The Orangery is complete and up and running,” concludes Claire, “it is fantastic how well the interior design and decor has worked. Our guests to date have had nothing but kind words. They love the seclusion, peace and the decor, with the added advantages of our proximity to everything. It is two miles to the coast, there are great country walks and a proper village a walk down the lane, with the added opportunity of seeing the deer, a stone’s throw from the back door.
“I have never had any previous experience of interior design, but this has given me a lot of encouragement. I enjoy trips around Burnham Market and Holt, looking for artifacts, great fun; so much so that I am now thinking of tackling our home, which has never been done. As you can imagine Andrew is a worried man!”
The Orangery, Snettisham, is available for holiday lettings; contact Norfolk Hideaways www.norfolkhideaways.co.uk 01485 211022 or 01328 711454
Owners: Claire Branton.
Property: An orangery.
Built: 2001 in grounds of west wing of Snettisham House.
Moved in: 2003.
Profession: Claire owns, runs and manages The Orangery.
Favourite room: Living room because of the vaulted ceiling, triple windows and light feel.
Favourite item: Sunburst mirror in the hall.
Favourite interiors shop: Town House, Burnham Market and House and Garden in Holt.
Favourite part of the county:The girls and Andrew love going crabbing at Burnham Overy Staithe
Favourite day out: The beach at Old Hunstanton, or Pensthorpe to see the birds and wildlife.
Favourite walk: With the girls to Sandringham Woods, which also has a nice cafe.
Favourite pub: Rose and Crown in Snettisham. Good food, nice atmosphere and a proper pub.
Favourite cafe/picnic: Back to the Garden in Letheringsett, great deli and food.
Hobbies: Tennis, riding, occasional shoot and baking.
Waste of time: In winter, a special treat; retail therapy, followed by a pub with a roaring fire.