New era for a fine mansion

This Edwardian mansion has all the right credentials. Keys Hill House in Wroxham was designed by eminent architect and former mayor of Norwich Edward Boardman, and now it has been renovated by award-winning developer Dennis Bacon.

This Edwardian mansion has all the right credentials. Keys Hill House in Wroxham was designed by eminent architect and former mayor of Norwich Edward Boardman, and now it has been renovated by award-winning developer Dennis Bacon. He has truly risen to the challenge, retaining the building's charm while dividing it into four apartments and adding seven dwellings, with prices ranging from £325,000-£475,000 through Strutt and Parker. CAROLINE CULOT reports.

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What happens to large mansions that are too big for modern day families? We all know the answer - they either become hotels, nursing homes or get snapped up by property developers.

Well, the gorgeous Edwardian Keys Hill House in Wroxham will now have been through all three phases in its life, most recently through property developer Dennis Bacon.

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The resulting development, Keys Hill Park, is a stunning success. It is an example of how, with the right vision and respect for old buildings, a developer can breathe life into a historic, but neglected property without damaging its character.

Keys Hill House offers for sale one apartment for £475,000 and a penthouse for £375,000. Opposite is one new four-bedroom cottage, for £425,000 and six townhouses from £325,000 to £375,000, all with Strutt and Parker.

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Keys Hill House was designed by Edward Boardman (and bears a sculpted plaque stating so) around 1890. He ran a prominent architectural practice in Norwich and London and later became a JP and a Norwich mayor. He also built and lived in the thatched house on the How Hill estate in Ludham and was also responsible, with Thomas Henry Wyatt, for building the original Norfolk and Norwich Hospital between 1879 and 1884.

However, no one can quite prepare you for just how lovely the house is. It has two turreted wings with ornate brickwork together with oval and circular windows, and the front overlooks palatial gardens.

With dozens of rooms, it was a nightmare for Mr Bacon, managing director of Norwich-based South Norfolk Developments, to think how to divide it up, but the result is breathtaking. Apartment one, the biggest, is wonderful - and my favourite. You enter through the main entrance into a magnificent reception hall with high ceiling and a grand staircase with a solid oak Edwardian banister. But the most stunning feature is a 15ft high stained glass window with handpainted panels. Mr Bacon loves old houses and this shines through. With the house not listed, he could have taken short-cuts, but instead he lavished time and money on ensuring original features were retained and restored.

In the two front turreted rooms is a study and a dining room, both with beautiful stained glass panels. Off the grand reception hall is a large living room, which goes into a bay and overlooks the garden, with its original fireplace and eight feature stained glass panels running into a small turreted wing. There is also a wonderful new kitchen and no expense has been spared. There are fitted chestnut units topped with granite and integrated appliances, including a coffee-making machine.

Upstairs is a master bedroom, en-suite, three further bedrooms and a bathroom. Apartment one has half of the palatial gardens, the other half being for apartment two.

The house divides well, with apartment two on the other side mirroring the first and above this is apartment three. Both these residences have been reserved.

Mr Bacon has also cleverly used space in the roof, formerly staff quarters, to create a penthouse with wow factor. It is accessed by a communal entrance with apartment two, but also has its own lift. The penthouse is roughly the size of an average new four-bedroom house but with two bedrooms to make it really spacious. And what a result - loft-style living yet in the roof of an Edwardian mansion!

The penthouse also comes with its own garden if required.

The entire development has been finished off beautifully - even the patios are made of Welsh fossil stone and the pathways are sandstone. And the new homes really blend with the original house, built in similar brick and with the same attention to detail. Mr Bacon really wanted to create something special - and he has certainly achieved it.

t There is an open weekend tomorrow and Sunday, 11am-3pm. Call Strutt and Parker on 01603 617431.

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