July 25 2014 Latest news:
Friday, June 27, 2014
With links to a famous Norfolk drink, and to an iconic romantic novelist, Welle Manor, at Upwell, is absolutely bursting with interesting facts – as well as its glorious architecture and gardens – and is for sale at £1.47m.
Home to the Benedictine monks who came up with the recipe for famous Norfolk Punch and a favourite retreat for a famous romantic novelist – Welle Manor, at Upwell, near Downham Market, is simply overflowing with history at every turn.
Currently home to Malcolm and Claudia Starr, this exquisite Grade II listed former medieval and Tudor hall has been beautifully restored to offer sumptuous and character-filled accommodation within grounds of approximately 3.5 acres.
Dating back in part to around 1360, the impressive property still presents architectural gems from medieval and Tudor times, as well as the Victorian era, when the house was extended.
These include the likes of a pair of medieval fortified towers and internal arches, which are once thought to have been doorways. One of these was converted into a fireplace by Tudor residents.
“We bought it 18 years ago because we just felt we had to,” Malcolm admits.
“It was the whole atmosphere of the house and the beautiful gardens that appealed to us. I had visited it before because it had been owned by a friend of ours, Sir Eric St John Foti.”
Sir Eric was the person who discovered the original recipe for Norfolk Punch when he was restoring the property. The recipe for the restorative tonic had lain hidden for centuries but was then carefully recreated using herbs grown in the grounds.
“The house later became a conference centre for Grand Metropolitan, which owned lots of different drinks. We bought it from them and converted it back into a home again,” he says.
An image of Welle Manor can still be seen on the label of Norfolk Punch and, in celebration of the relationship between the building and the herbal elixir, all the main rooms have been named after ingredients used to make the punch.
The Fennel drawing room, for example, and the Tarragon sitting room are among the main reception areas, complete with high ceilings, ornate coving and Victorian fireplaces inset with Minton tiles.
The Sorrel dining room has wooden panelling and a grand oak table that was specially made for the room.
“I call this the Christmas room, too – you can just imagine how wonderful it is at that time of year. We do have furniture here, like the table, which was made or chosen for the house that people may wish to discuss buying along with the property,” says Malcolm.
The couple began renovating the house almost as soon as they arrived, moving from room to room as necessary.
With nine rooms currently arranged as bedrooms – but with a potential for 12 – there is certainly no lack of space.
“This is a superb house for anyone who loves entertaining or having people to stay. It is a quiet and relaxing place to spend time but is also wonderful for parties.”
Welle Manor has been given a stylish and elegant finish to complement the grandeur of its structure.
As an interior designer, Claudia has an eye for detail and has brought in only quality fabrics and furnishings, from the likes of Mulberry, GP and J Baker and Colefax and Fowler.
Upstairs, the bedrooms, such as Sunflower, Cinnamon, Poppy, Camomile and Angelica, feature Victorian cast iron fireplaces, exposed beams and hand-made tiles, and enjoy outstanding views across the grounds and towards the church.
But, it is the master suite, with its half-panelled walls, alcove seating area, lovely dressing room and en suite bathroom that is the most impressive.
“The four poster bed here is supposedly made from the doors of a castle, which came from the famous Didlington Hall collection.” The conservatory opens out on to the terrace, with more views out across the gardens and steps down to the lawn.
The parkland gardens at Welle Manor feature a variety of mature trees, such as oaks, ash, sycamore, walnut, maple and linden. Also in the grounds is the coach house, comprising three bedrooms, kitchen, living room and dining room.
“The gardens have been restored by my wife, who has done them beautifully, in a very formal style,” says Malcolm.
Other achievements include the creation of a wall all the way round the property, which took six years to complete, and the preservation of the medieval towers, conducted in careful consultation with conservation officers.
“Everything has been done very carefully and sympathetically,” he adds. “One change we did make not long after arriving was to refit the bathroom. This had been created for a friend of the former owner to use whenever she visited.
“It was designed specially for Barbara Cartland, who used to enjoy visiting the house and was said to like Norfolk Punch!”
• Welle Manor, Upwell, is for sale (guide price £1,470,000) with Fine & Country on 01553 393001