Gothic glory in a world of its own

This stunning house was built as a showpiece for the prominent Gurney family, and more recently lived in by the family of former Lotus group chairman Romano Artioli.

This stunning house was built as a showpiece for the prominent Gurney family, and more recently lived in by the family of former Lotus group chairman Romano Artioli. Its location comes as a real surprise - it looks as if it is set in vast countryside, yet it's right on the edge of Norwich. CAROLINE CULOT, EDP property correspondent, ventured through the imposing gates of Harford Hills House, Marston Lane, seeking offers in excess of £1.5m with Elliots.

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You cannot fail to be impressed by the look of this house, because, quite frankly, it has to be unique for Norfolk.

Yes, we have Gothic properties, but not many of this stature with a thatched roof, its eaves overhanging a series of circular windows. It was designed as a showpiece - and that is most definitely what it is, a house which commands attention and adoration. And if you live in it, you better get used to feeling like second best!

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Harford Hills House, Marston Lane, Norwich, is for sale for offers in excess of £1.5m with Elliots.

Visiting this house is a magical experience - you leave the Ipswich Road and the feeling you are in the city and then turn off onto a lane and through electrically operated gates.

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At first you cannot see the property, but as you continue down the drive, it looms large at the end and you catch your breath at the first glimpse. It is just magnificent in structure, believed to have been designed by ES Benest, who carried out much work for the Gurney family, and built in the middle part of the 19th century.

It does feel like the house is in its own little world, in a tranquil setting which seems miles away from the busy city - and yet it is only two miles to the centre.

Work has been done over the years; in fact a lot was carried out in the 1990s by the family of former Lotus group chairman Romano Artioli. (He purchased Lotus in 1993 and the Elise is named after his granddaughter.) The current owners have also made improvements and are only moving because they feel they no longer need such a substantial house, because their family has grown up and moved away.

You enter into an impressive reception hall where there is an antique stained glass window and a lovely oak staircase. From here you can access the main reception rooms, with the drawing room and dining room off right and both with fireplaces and bay windows overlooking the gardens. Also off the hall is the living room, with the third bay window as seen from the front and then on the other side of the house is a kitchen/breakfast room. These rooms form a square shape around a courtyard which could be a really lovely outside eating area. From the kitchen, laundry and utility rooms is the Victorian conservatory, linked to a single-storey part of the house, with a bay window, which is currently used as a studio with a cloakroom attached so could be an office or workshop. On the other side of the courtyard in original stable buildings is a separate annexe, called Harford Hills Cottage, with its own kitchen, bedroom/study and sitting room, with two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs.

Upstairs in the main house - and that staircase is wonderful, the kind you want to be seen coming down in a ballgown - and you have four large bedrooms, with the two at the front having those lovely circular windows, and one with its own little verandah. This could be perfect for your morning coffee or for a nightcap looking out at the stars!

The house benefits from a number of bathrooms and cloakrooms, many of which have baths and showers with Jacuzzi-style features. And there is scope for stamping your own mark on this property, which could, in some areas, benefit from cosmetic improvements inside.

Outside, it is set in palatial grounds overlooking the river valley.

t Harford Hills House is for sale for offers in excess of £1.5m with Elliots on 01603 614545.

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