Downsizing on a grand scale

RICHARD PARR Downsizing your home could involve moving from a four-bedroom detached house to a two-bedroom bungalow with a smaller garden. But for Lord and Lady Leicester their move from the 18th splendour of Holkham Hall to a restored farmhouse in the grounds represents downsizing on a rather grander scale.

RICHARD PARR

Downsizing your home could involve moving from a four-bedroom detached house to a two-bedroom bungalow with a smaller garden.

But for Lord and Lady Leicester their move from the 18th splendour of Holkham Hall to a restored farmhouse in the grounds represents downsizing on a rather grander scale.

Their former home had a staggering 149 habitable rooms, not counting the attic rooms and cellars. The state rooms contain art treasures from around the world and priceless paintings.

But their new address at Model Farm is of more modest proportions - having just eight bedrooms, each with its own en-suite bathroom, and extensive gardens with imposing outbuildings. The main part of the house was once used as a grain store.

Their move, after living in Holkham Hall for many years, follows the October 2005 handover of the running of what is one of Norfolk's best-known estates to son and heir, Viscount Coke. The Viscount, his wife Polly, and their young family, are due to move into the Hall later this year.

Most Read

Lady Leicester, who, assisted by removal man Kenny Barnes, of Aladdin's Cave at Fakenham, oversaw the transfer across Holkham park to their new home on another corner of the estate, has taken the opportunity of a mammoth clear-out of furniture and effects from both the Chapel Wing (summer residence) and family wing (winter residence) to donate unwanted goods for a Stately Car Boot Sale being held in the grounds of Holkham Estate on May 5.

All proceeds from the upmarket boot sale will go to the Norfolk Churches Trust, of which Lady Leicester is an active and passionate member.

Around 100 pitches will be set up and manned by the owners of some of Norfolk's large country houses, who have gone through their cupboards to find goods to sell.

Among the items Lady Leicester found were a collection of paintings, an elegant Egyptian-style sofa, a large assortment of rugs and even an ermine bodice.

It is five years since the last Stately car boot Sale was held at Holkham. It attracted huge crowds of bargain hunters and raised in the region of £30,000.

Lady Leicester urged people hoping to pick up a bargain to get to the sale early to avoid disappointment. The sale starts at 10.30am and continues until 3.30pm.

It is not like a normal house contents sale when there is a catalogue in advance showing what is being sold. With the car boot sale there is the excitement of rummaging through the goods and not knowing what bargains you might find.

“Those who come early will obviously get the pick of what is being sold but there should also be bargains available throughout the day,” said Lady Leicester.

Lady Leicester has been having a hectic time with such a major move and, while everything is not yet in apple-pie order, their new home is looking good with its tasteful and elegant décor.

She said one of the nicest things about their new home was the fact that she and her husband were now on their own. At the hall there were always people around because the park is open to the public 364 days of the year and there were also three other families living in the property.

“We have loved every minute at Holkham. My husband has lived there for 33 years and I have been there for 21 years and it's a huge privilege to live in a place like that, but you are always on duty, seven days a week, and it's a huge responsibility,” she said.

She added: “It is only really now, since we moved to our new home, that it feels like a great weight has been lifted off our shoulders.

“You give an awful lot of your personality to a house like Holkham Hall but it does becoming draining and we are now looking forward to doing other things once we have settled in,” said Lady Leicester.

The Stately Car Boot Sale is being staged at Holkham on May 5 by kind permission of Viscount Coke. It is open from 10.30am until 3.30pm and admission is £5 per person. Children under 16 are admitted free. Pitches are by invitation only and more information is available by contacting 01603 767576.