The owner of a 'one of a kind' holiday home in Norfolk has spoken of the joy of owning such an historic building - and says it would feel "a bit naughty" not to rent it out.

Hunstanton is famed for its white lighthouse, but not far away, another - no less important - building sits atop the town’s beloved stripy cliffs.

For guests, Coastguard Lookout offers one of those once-in-a-lifetime stays, combining a “proper view of the sea”, as owner Graham Jeffery calls it, with a unique snapshot into the past. 

The building was used as a coastguard’s lookout tower, as its name suggests, but before that it had been constructed as a Marconi wireless station.

As a result, it played an important part in both the First and Second World Wars, gathering intelligence on German radio transmissions and tracing enemy fleets.

It continued to be used as both a coastguard’s lookout and a signal station well into the Second World War and in 1943, it was visited by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, as well as then-Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.

The event is remembered by a commemorative plaque on the side of the building, which can still be seen today, and all four also signed their royal insignias in the coastguard’s log book.

In later years, the tower became a maritime museum but after it closed, new owners bought and restored it before transforming it into a private residence and holiday home.

Eastern Daily Press: The tower was also used to track enemy fleets during the First and Second World WarsThe tower was also used to track enemy fleets during the First and Second World Wars (Image: Coastguard Lookout)

Graham Jeffery and his wife bought it in 2014, partly because they knew the area well, having taken their children on holiday in Hunstanton, but also because they were in the middle of large-scale renovations to their family home in Cambridgeshire. 

“We’d lived in Cambridge and Cambridgeshire for quite a lot of years and used to take the kids when they were little down to Norfolk. We used to often go to Hunstanton because it was easy,” he explains.

“We’d just bought an old house in Cambridge and had knocked it down and wanted to build a new property. That was a big job, so we were living in a caravan while we were doing it.”

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Facing Christmas in the caravan, the couple decided to look for something more permanent. “At that point, we decided [and then] saw this and thought ‘this is fantastic’, so we put in an offer and decided to buy it. It was amazing.”

The previous owner hadn’t done much to the property, Graham says, so once in, he and his wife started making improvements. 

They installed a new central heating system, updated the pipework, renovated the kitchen and bathroom and “just made it a bit smarter,” Graham says.

But what’s more, the kids loved it.

It took around two years to complete work on their family home, but Graham says they knew that staying in Hunstanton wasn’t going to be forever. 

Eastern Daily Press: Since purchasing the building in 2014, Graham and his wife have renovated the insideSince purchasing the building in 2014, Graham and his wife have renovated the inside (Image: Coastguard Lookout)

“It was great while we were there but we weren’t going to live there all the time,” he says.

“We thought ‘well, it’s ridiculous not to rent it out’ and get other people here. You would feel a bit naughty not to rent it out, really, and just keep it to yourself because it’s an amazing building.

“I think that’s great because then everybody gets a chance to have some time in it.”

Years on, the family still use it as their holiday home. In fact, he says it’s even more special to the children now, as they live in London and consider it a proper “holiday home”, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. 

“We go there quite frequently,” he says. “It’s pretty amazing because you’re literally on the edge of the cliff – about 20 odd metres from the edge. 

“You’ve got this coastguard lookout at the top so you get a really good view round and across the sea. You can see Boston and Skegness, Lincolnshire, and the view all the way down through Hunstanton, across the sands.

“It’s a very relaxing place to sit. Just to let the world go by when you have this great view.”

The property sleeps four people, with a double bed and two bunk beds in bedrooms on the first floor, which each offer amazing views.

Eastern Daily Press: The lookout tower at the very top of the property offers unrivalled viewsThe lookout tower at the very top of the property offers unrivalled views (Image: Coastguard Lookout)

On the ground floor there is a living and dining room, fitted with a wood burner, and a small L-shaped kitchen kitted out with everything you’d need for a self-catering break. Prices start at around £965 for a week, depending on the time of year.

The former lookout tower on the top floor really is one of the highlights, Graham says, and one that really sets the property apart from other stays in the area. “You can actually come out by the side of that and walk all the way around,” he says.

“And at the back of the lookout there’s a terrace, so in the summer when it’s quite warm, you’ve got this area so you can relax at the top, do a barbecue or whatever you want to do up there, have a glass of wine – it’s very pleasant.”

READ MORE: One-bed flat with sea views for sale for £230k

But Coastguard Lookout is not just for fine summer days – in fact, Graham says spring and autumn are some of the best times to stay.

“All the tourists have left, so it’s quite quiet,” he says. “You’ve got some fantastic walks from there. 

“What we typically do is walk however many miles we want to walk, go into the local, one of the pubs when we come to the end, and then we go and catch the bus straight back because it stops right outside – you can have a great day out!” 

The views, though, do come at a price, and Graham admits that when the couple first bought the property they had some concerns about its proximity to the cliff edge.

Coastal erosion has been in the news a lot recently, after dramatic recession of the cliffs at Hemsby, elsewhere on the coast, saw several homes fall into the sea. 

Eastern Daily Press: The building is located on the very top of the cliffs, near to the lighthouseThe building is located on the very top of the cliffs, near to the lighthouse (Image: Coastguard Lookout)

Graham worries that the same might happen here.

“When I first bought it, I spoke to the council and just asked them about it falling down the cliff and they said ‘well, you know, maybe 50 years.’

“The councils and Government just let all these places fall down, the cliff gets taken over by the sea, and you’re constantly losing history.

“If this keeps going then next to us is the lighthouse, so that’ll go as well because it’s exactly where we are. Hunstanton is known for the lighthouse, as you know, so if that goes – well, what are you going to go to Hunstanton for if the lighthouse has gone?

“We’re just hoping that it takes a few years before the chip finally falls down and you end up in the sea, but I think we’re looking at half a century or more.”

Ultimately, though, Graham has “absolutely” no regrets about their purchase or investment in the building.

“It’s a one off for me,” he says. “I’m very grateful and happy that we’ve managed to take it on. It’s a special place.”

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