Is this the most romantic place to stay in Norfolk?
- Credit: SALT/Ian Burt
One of the most impressive buildings on the Holkham estate has been given a makeover by owner Lady Leicester to look more romantic as weddings there are on the rise.
The Triumphal Arch, built in the 18th century to impress visitors in their carriages passing through to the coast, is now playing a vital role in the estate's weddings business - as the honeymoon suite.
Lady Leicester, who runs the estate with husband, the Earl of Leicester, has made the improvements to the Grade I listed building after the hike in weddings at Holkham over the past year. The estate, with its grand Palladian hall at the centre of 25,000 acres, currently holds more than 30 weddings a year and has six different licensed venues for ceremonies. The emerging trend of mid-week and Sunday weddings is also seeing Holkham much busier with newly-weds celebrating their special day there.
The Triumphal Arch was palatial inside by most people's standards but now boasts even more luxurious interiors.
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Interior designer Johanna Tennant, formerly projects manager on the estate, was enlisted to give the Triumphal Arch a revamp. The Triumphal Arch, which sleeps two, is available through SALT Norfolk from £541 for three nights and £1,289 for a week. To get married at Holkham in the Lady Elizabeth Wing, costs from £9,995.
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Johanna said: "The brief from Lady Leicester was to create a sense of romance and for it to be a special place to stay that would appeal to couples getting married at Holkham,
"Lady Leicester had a clear vision of what she wanted to achieve, and we spent time together looking at the various ways in which we could create a more romantic feel to the top floor room."
The work was completed in a fortnight. Challenges included carefully planning the works so as not to impinge on bookings as the Arch can be hired as a holiday home too.
"Given the space limitations imposed by a staircase built in the 18th century, we had to ensure that everything we sourced would fit," said Johanna. "Even the windows are too small to be removed to fit anything in that way."
"The bed is very much the focal point of the room. As you lie in bed, the views form the north window are spectacular and you can see all the way along the South Avenue leading to the obelisk and the hall. On a clear day, you can see as far as the monument."
In 2014, Johanna purchased and renovated the building that is now called Bang in Wells, establishing a cafe with four guest bedrooms and she herself lives in a former gatehouse on the estate.
The Triumphal Arch was built in 1761 and the main room at the top contained not much more than a card table. The arch then housed many generations of local shepherds and their families. In 2006, it was given its first major makeover.