‘Atmospheric’ Norfolk house linked to a group of 1930s treasure hunters goes up for sale
- Credit: Archant
A Grade II listed house with an interesting past has come up for sale for £1.1m in Walpole St Peter.
Head of residential sales Louis de Soissons describes Dovecote House, which has recently come on the market with Savills at a guide price £1,100,000, as “a magnificent Grade II listed Elizabethan house” nestled opposite the church in Walpole St Peter.
The property was built in 1598 by an Elizabethan merchant named Robert Butler, but over the centuries it has been lived in, and visited by, a number of notable figures – including those with royal connections and a group of 20th century treasure-hunters.
In the early 20th century, it was owned by Reverend Henry Staveley, rector of St Peter’s church, which stands opposite, and tutor to the royal children while they were at the nearby Sandringham estate. It’s believed that Queen Mary, wife of King George V, visited Dovecote House when she attended the church.
In the 1930s, treasure hunters descended on the area in search of King John’s long-lost treasure, which is believed to have gone missing when his wagons got caught in the tide somewhere between Lincoln and King’s Lynn. The group were joined by an American called John Boone who is believed to have hired an acquaintance, Edward Gaspard Ponsonby, to command the search.
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Ponsonby bought Dovecote House with the intention of using it as the headquarters for the Fen Research Company. He extended and restored the property, keeping its Tudor structure, and built a timber outbuilding which is now known as the Cottage.
Today, Savills describe the property as “atmospheric and enchanting”, with a splendid old oak front door opening on to an impressive stone-tiled hall. There is a dining room and kitchen off to each side but it is the staircase, partly panelled and lit by a cupola, a dome-like structure, that is the real showstopper.
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The large formal drawing room is also noteworthy. Sitting at the end of the hall, it enjoys westerly views over the formal gardens and, to the south, views of the church and charming sunken garden.
A magnificent, Jacobean-designed open fireplace also takes centre stage, featuring exposed brickwork, a magnificent stone surround and intricate fluting within the panels.
A similar sized fireplace can also be found in the dining room, lending the house its impressive octagonal chimneystacks.
The drawing room connects to the west wing of the house, where there is a smaller sitting room, and a staircase off the back hall leads directly to the master suite with a private bathroom.
The first floor landing also leads on to five further bedrooms, including two which are en suite, and a family bathroom.
Although the property retains many of its original period features, it also includes a number of contemporary additions, including new fitted carpets, refitted bath and shower rooms and an electric two-oven Aga in the kitchen.
Outside, Dovecote House is served by a substantial driveway leading to a garaging courtyard with ample space for parking and a large garage with power and lighting.
The Cottage, which extends to approximately 1,688 sq ft, can be found at the end of the driveway and offers plenty of potential for new owners as it requires a complete renovation.
There is a walled herb garden towards the back of the main house, which sits adjacent to the kitchen/breakfast room and leads to the main garden by a small passageway. The former kitchen garden, to the east, offers uninterrupted views of the church and, to the west, there is an attractive paved terrace with rose borders and box hedges, which opens out on to a wide lawned area featuring a rose-cover pergola, topiary and ornamental pond.
Further gardens and an orchard are also included. The plot extends to approximately 3.5 acres.
Church Road, Walpole St Peter
Guide price: £1,100,000
Saviils, 01603 229229, www.savills.com