It really could be home, SWEET, home as Gingerbread Cottages in Dereham go up for sale
PUBLISHED: 14:21 11 May 2017 | UPDATED: 18:34 11 May 2017
Archant © 2017
It’s so pretty it looks good enough to eat.
When the Gingerbread Cottages in Dereham were first built it is said the carrstone brickwork was designed to represent the crumbs from a gingerbread cake.
And with its white gables looking like fondant icing dripping down over the windows the building has understandably attracted plenty of attention over the years as looking like something out of a fairytale.
It is so picturesque photographs of the cottages through the seasons have even been turned into calendars to raise money for charity and both are registered as Buildings of Historic Interest.
Now the cottages are up for sale and already a long line of interested buyers are queueing up to have a look.
Although it looks like one cottage the building is actually split into two separate properties. But current owners Mark Piper and partner Lorna Coates, who own one each, believe it would be fantastic if a buyer was able to convert it into one property again.
“A little bit of money to convert it to one large house would really lift it,” said Mr Piper, who runs The Barbers in Dereham.
“They have always looked picturesque from the front, dating back to the mid 1800s,” he added. “But it was a bit of a folly as it was a lodge house for Quebec Hall and the owners wanted people to think they looked after their workers and could afford to build a large gatehouse.
“They have always been divided into two and there would be a couple of families in there, some quite large. Many worked in the bakehouse and a laundry at the back. We even found some of the pipework.”
The couple have completely renovated the cottages, which had been almost derelict for 30 years, but are now both waiting for a new chapter in their history.
“We will really miss living here,” said Mr Piper. “I’ve become a bit obsessed with their history. But after 20 years it is time to move on and let new owners enjoy them.”
One open day has already attracted potential buyers and another open day is being held on May 21.
The larger cottage is on the market with Fine & Country priced at £300,000 and its neighbour is being sold privately for £265,000. To book a viewing email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01362 288004.
Did you know?
In 2012, the year he really broke through in the music industry, Ed Sheeran signed some copies of the Gingerbread Cottages calendar to help raise more money for charity. Three years later he set up his own record label - called Gingerbread Man.
Throughout the years the Gingerbread Cottages have been used as backdrop to advertise local businesses, from JJ Wright & Sons new motor cars in 1912 to the fire service.
Channel 4 got in touch with Mr Piper as they had seen a picture of the cottages and wanted to use them for a Christmas television programme. It was to be Santa’s house in Lapland and they were going to bring snow machines to make it look really Christmassy. Sadly the programme never materialised.
In Victorian times workhouse inmates from Gressenhall would often stop at the cottages and collect wood in return for some bread from the bakehouse.
In his extensive research on Quebec Hall’s history Mr Piper discovered that the lady of the house once paid the equivalent of a month’s wages just to buy a cucumber. She must have enjoyed her salad as she then employed the gardener who grew it to work at the hall.
Quebec Hall became linked to Heydon Hall, near Reepham, when in 1762, William Wiggett Bulwer married the heiress to the estate. It is understood Quebec Hall was sold in order to save Heydon.
During the war Quebec Hall was requisitioned by the American army and there is still the remains of an old gun turret on the land behind the cottages looking out towards Fakenham. The hall is now a Christian retirement home.