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‘Who’d buy a guesthouse with no guests?’ Owners of famous landmark stay on after sale collapses

PUBLISHED: 12:25 08 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:21 08 July 2020

The stunning Cley Windmill and owners Julian and Carolyn Godlee. Pic: Archant/submitted

The stunning Cley Windmill and owners Julian and Carolyn Godlee. Pic: Archant/submitted

The owners of one of Norfolk’s most photographed attractions have reopened and received 95 bookings in two days.

Carolyn Godlee at Cley Windmill. Pic: submittedCarolyn Godlee at Cley Windmill. Pic: submitted

Carolyn and Julian Godlee put Cley Windmill up for sale last July to go travelling and secured a buyer but with exchange due just before lockdown, the sale fell through. But after months in lockdown and adding some new features to the windmill, they reopened to be inundated with bookings.

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In two days, the couple received 95 bookings which came as a relief after being closed for months and seeing weddings cancelled.

Mrs Godlee, a retired headteacher, said: “We have renewed enthusiasm, we are here to stay for the time being. We had a lot of interest and several offers to buy the windmill and we were due to exchange in March/April. We understood that the buyers had to withdraw because who would want to buy a guesthouse with no guests?

The stunning Norfolk landmark Cley Windmill. It has seen 95 bookings in just two days after reopening. Pic: ArchantThe stunning Norfolk landmark Cley Windmill. It has seen 95 bookings in just two days after reopening. Pic: Archant

“It meant we spent a lot of time at the windmill during lockdown, doing maintenance and adding new things such as a decking area, we furloughed staff who are almost all back now and we’ve had all these bookings. A lot of people are coming from Norwich and just want a little break, people who’ve been juggling working from home with schooling their children, they are exhausted and just want to come and have a couple of nights at the windmill.

“Every cloud has a silver lining but we think here at the windmill it’s actually gold because so many really good things have come out of it.”

Among the new features is a dining package being launched next week where, in a collaboration with Emma Boubaker, their former head chef, now running Bayfield Catering, a dining in ‘ready meal’ will be delivered from a bespoke menu. This is while the dining room at the windmill remains closed for evening meals because of social distancing. Breakfast is served in bedrooms or guests can eat on the new terrace, enjoying the fabulous views, or at staggered times in the dining room.

The Godlees bought Cley Windmill in 2006 from famous singer James Blunt’s uncle John Woodhouse and they replaced the balcony, the sails, the fan stage and wheel as well as converting five outbuildings into extra accommodation. Mr Godlee is a professional singer and retired GP.

One of the bedrooms at Cley Windmill. Pic: submittedOne of the bedrooms at Cley Windmill. Pic: submitted

The beautiful Cley Windmill. The owners have seen 95 bookings in just two days after reopening. Pic: ArchantThe beautiful Cley Windmill. The owners have seen 95 bookings in just two days after reopening. Pic: Archant

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Julian and Carolyn Godlee, who are staying on at Cley Windmill and received 95 bookings in two days after reopening. Pic: submittedJulian and Carolyn Godlee, who are staying on at Cley Windmill and received 95 bookings in two days after reopening. Pic: submitted

Cley Windmill. Picture: Ian Burt.Cley Windmill. Picture: Ian Burt.


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