Lord Somerleyton launches VIP club at Fritton Lake
PUBLISHED: 09:22 03 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:03 19 November 2019
Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk
Lord Somerleyton is creating a members-only club as part of his plans to turn Fritton Lake into Norfolk's own version of the exclusive Soho Farmhouse.
Work is under way at Fritton Lake, part of the Somerleyton estate on the Norfolk-Suffolk border, to create a new high-end destination including a private club, costing £400 a year to join, opening next spring.
The club will give people access to a new clubhouse, being built, and activities from swimming in a new 22 metre heated pool to watersports on the lake and tennis on new grass and clay courts.
Lord Somerleyton, Hugh Crossley, 48, is hoping to grow the club by 100 members a year for the first five years and is investing millions. He inherited the 5,000 acre estate and stately home after the death of his father seven years ago. Now he's investing to future-proof it.
"A large amount of all the businesses' profits go into running the hall, that remains the challenge. Our mission has always been about the hall, it's a titanic wrestling match, it's your first love but your arch enemy at the same time. The hall has been an incredible place to grow up in, to live and entertain in but you have a duty to look after it and it is a fantastically bad business. There are two or three ways out of that trap - go and become a big success in the city or entrepreneur which I have tried but not been successful enough at - or to make the other businesses on the estate more profitable."
He's taken his inspiration from the Oxfordshire members-only leisure resort known as Soho Farmhouse. He said: "I essentially want Fritton Lake to become the East of London version of that, we are never going to spend £70-£80m, we'll never have a global membership. Soho Farmhouse is in a more affluent area compared to here, but research suggests the demand for a club like this is just as strong. I hope within five years to create a miniature version of that. We are aiming at a specific market who aspire to be members of a food-orientated, sport and recreational club. It's not for everyone but we are confident this sector is not represented at all in our region."
Other projects include transforming the local marina for boats and planning for 40-50 new homes on two sites in Somerleyton.
Lord Somerleyton recently spent £800,000 on transforming the Fritton Arms into a desirable venue with boutique rooms, along with new holiday log cabin retreats and cottages. Owners will have automatic membership to the new club and the pub will remain open to non-members.
"When I first started, I couldn't understand why Fritton Lake couldn't be called Somerleyton Lake but Fritton is on the map, it deserves its recognition and is very big business now, it is its own brand."
Fritton Lake lies in Norfolk while Somerleyton is in Suffolk.