Is this beautiful house to rent one of Norfolk's best kept secrets?
PUBLISHED: 08:47 27 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:01 30 July 2019
Do you want to live in a magnificent Edwardian country house set in 50 acres with a lake and private gym? Caroline Culot spoke to owner Lady Denise Butler.
Lady Denise Butler is adjusting to living in what she calls the "dolly house" which is, in fact, a palatial coach-house conversion in the grounds of The Grange Estate, Erpingham.
She recently moved out of the main, six-bedroom house nestling amid manicured lawns and with breathtaking views over its private estate which is completely hidden from view in the tiny village between Aylsham and Cromer.
Lady Denise, married to Canadian property investor Caisey Harlingten, is an interior designer and project managed the full renovation of the house which was built in 1902.
Every bedroom has been lavishly redecorated, with luxury en suites added with slipper, claw foot or rolled top baths in a full-scale, top-to-bottom, project.
Lady Denise only moved out when it was necessary to attend to doors and the oppressive odour of paint became too much.
Because her husband works away a lot, she's on her own and felt more comfortable living in a smaller abode opposite another coachhouse on the estate which is lived in all year round by tenants.
Having renovated the main house, she's now hosting it on Airbnb as a holiday home, at the cost of around £1,000 a night, but would also consider letting it or even offering it up for commercial use if the right business owner came along.
"The Grange is like a beautiful, large, white elephant and it's getting people to come to this part of Norfolk which often gets overlooked with people heading to Chelsea-on-Sea - Burnham Market - instead," she said.
"My husband introduced me to Norfolk, he just loves it. He calls me a compulsive designer because I just look at something, we go to someone's house, and I just start thinking how it would look if I changed this and that.
"But I also love music. I'm writing a series of children's books and doing the illustrations myself. Music, art, design; it all goes hand in glove."
Lady Denise, who also loved riding until she was injured in a car accident, married Mr Harlingten, a developer of lavish resorts, in 2006 after a whirlwind romance, "I met him in a shop in Hampshire. As I was leaving, he said, 'but aren't we going to see one another again?'"
They bought the Grange and Lady Denise immediately began renovating it - but while taking a holiday from it all in Vancouver, couldn't resist snapping up a "shabby million dollar apartment" with a view of Coal Harbour and then embarked on a major renovation of that.
The result is well documented in interior circles. She ripped out ceilings and wiring to create, two years later, a property which was worth $6.2m back in 2016.
She proudly describes it, saying: "I ripped out the ceiling and replaced it with a tin ceiling and then sprayed it so it would look like plaster, I put in a herringbone hardwood floor and the front of the house is so pretty as it overlooks the harbour."
She returned to finish The Grange where she put in the lake and tidied up a 100 year-old orchard only to tackle the property once again when she decided to move out.
The house was built by the Ives family, who made their money in farming, owning much of the surrounding land which remained in the family until 1982 when the previous owners bought it prior to Lady Denise.
It's a substantial house with a nod to the Arts and Crafts movement with a solid staircase which goes up two floors, a back set of 'servant's stairs' and many beautiful stained glass panels in the main front doors, one which has the Grange estate's coat of arms above.
A large stained glass window rises up from the first to second floors. There are beautiful twisted chimney stacks with working fireplaces in most of the reception rooms. The house accommodates 12, with plenty of pianos too, and two sitting rooms, a snug and a large contemporary open plan kitchen which leads into the garden room where you can dine although there are two formal dining rooms as well.
There is only one television - Lady Denise's pet hate - in the entire house.
Over two floors are six bedrooms, each decorated by Lady Denise in a different way and with new en suites in a period style. There are two master bedrooms, one with fuchsia pink detail including a velvet chaise longue by the window and with a full walk-in dressing room and a period claw and ball bath tub and large shower, which was Mr Harlingten's bedroom and has its own private balcony. The other master bedroom, which was Lady Denise's, has an en suite with a double ended slipper bath overlooking the secret garden.
But there is also the 'Blue Room' overlooking the lake with blue damask wallpaper and a blue velvet chaise longue and the French bedroom, as well as the maid's bedroom converted from the servant's quarters. Outside, there's also a carriage house with a clock tower which has been fitted with a fully equipped gym.
Lady Denise said wistfully: "I've brought The Grange back to life, I'll miss most waking up in the house and hearing the birdsong and looking out over the lake but it was time to leave, I didn't want to end up like Miss Havisham from Great Expectations."
You can contact The Grange on 01263 768426 or email firstname.lastname@example.org