Out of Africa to an English country home
Living in a splendid Georgian house in Norfolk is about as far out of Africa as you can get. But David and Clare Marris, who met and fell in love in Nairobi, have made it their home.
Living in a splendid Georgian house in Norfolk is about as far out of Africa as you can get. But
for David and Clare Marris, who met and fell in love in Nairobi, they have made it their home.
Old Farm House, Tunstead, is now for sale for £1.15m with Jackson-Stops and Staff. CAROLINE CULOT, EDP property correspondent, took a look.
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The story of how David and Clare Marris met in Kenya is like something right out of a Hollywood movie.
Mrs Marris, just 19 when she met her husband-to-be, was staying with family friends in Nairobi close to where Karen Blixen, the subject of big-screen romance Out of Africa with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, lived. Some of the scenes in the film were shot on the ranch in The Rift Valley where Clare's family have lived for generations.
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Mr Marris, a former Army officer who went on to become an executive in an international bank, was on holiday in Kenya in 1978 when he met and fell for the woman who became his wife. A few months later, they married on the farm and Mr Marris, piloting his light aircraft, whisked his wife away on honeymoon.
After spells around the world, including Barbados, the couple settled in Norfolk at the marvellous Old Farm House, Tunstead, when Mr Marris retired. Travel influences are very much evident throughout the property. The Old Farm House is for sale for £1.15m with Jackson-Stops and Staff.
As soon as you step through the front door, you know you are in a warm, family home. It is not a show-house, but it exudes happiness. And the house speaks volumes about its owners - on the walls are watercolours by Mr Marris' grandmother. His late mother Barbara Marris (who lived in Blakeney and was quite well-known in the area) appears in a wonderful black and white photograph walking her dog early one morning down the seawall.
And Mrs Marris' heritage is also evident from the African artefacts and particularly in the garden, which has a look and feel of the family farm in Kenya. However, the impressive tall Ginkgo tree in the centre of the drive does not count - Mr Marris said it is Chinese!
Old Farm House is a lovely Georgian structure and has a divine wisteria climbing one exterior wall. You walk into a welcoming hall with a wonderful staircase winding up - with a mahogany banister complete with a circular inset motif at the top and bottom. Off the hall is the sitting room with large sash windows and there is also a formal drawing room. The dining room overlooks the said Gingko tree - which turns a brilliant shade of yellow in the autumn.
You can access the kitchen direct from the dining room and this is a lovely convivial room with chestnut work surfaces over blue, handmade units. The kitchen goes into a conservatory which, on the dull, rainy day I visited, was still wonderfully light. It faces north so it does not get too hot in the summer.
Off the conservatory is an enormous utility and store rooms which lead into a big garage.
Mrs Marris is a keen gardener and the house has a long garden room, ideal for keeping plants in the winter, which leads out into the courtyard.
This is perhaps more Continental-looking than African, but was designed by the couple because they adore eating outdoors. It is completely secluded and an idyllic little spot where the couple, on warm days, enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Another useful addition is an office/studio at the end of the house.
Upstairs there is a master bedroom, and a dressing room/sixth bedroom, and four further bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Outside, set in about six acres, are wonderful gardens and a large paddock where they keep their daughter's horse.
The property is just over three miles from Wroxham, four miles to Stalham and 10 miles to Norwich.
t The Old Farm House, Tunstead, is for sale for a guide price of £1.15m with Jackson-Stops and Staff on 01603 612333.