History and a hidden treasure

Thorpe Hall is a magnificent property on the site of a former Bishops' palace which has its own incredible story. After falling into disrepair, it was saved from being demolished 20 years ago by one special Norfolk man who was determined to restore it.

Thorpe Hall is a magnificent property on the site of a former Bishops' palace which has its own incredible story. After falling into disrepair, it was saved from being demolished 20 years ago by one special Norfolk man who was determined to restore it. Now Thorpe Hall is up for sale for £1.5 million. CAROLINE CULOT reports

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It's usually the people who live in properties who can tell a story, not the building itself. But the magnificent Thorpe Hall, a hidden treasure of Norwich, tucked away off Yarmouth Road where no one would know it's there, tells its own story. And what a history it has to tell.

It is for sale for a guide price of £1.5 million with Jackson-Stops and Staff.

The original building on this site was owned, for nearly 450 years, by the Bishops of Norwich, known as the Palace, and their summer seat where they would stay before being ordained at the cathedral. Bishop's Bridge is said to have been built specifically to shorten the journey to Thorpe.

The Palace fell into the hands of the King but in 1547 was given by Edward VI to Sir Thomas Paston for services to the crown. It was rebuilt for the Paston family in the late 1500s and over the years it passed to many families, coming to Major Frank Astley Cubbitt of Fritton.

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He lived into his early nineties but refused any modernisation of the hall, with the result that on his death in 1925, his son Sir Bertram Cubbitt inherited a dilapidated house.

Its period of decline had begun until in 1985 Henry Burke, an architect and former head of design at Anglia TV, bought it with the intention to restore it to its former glory.

Sadly, Mr Burke died from a stroke in 2001 but his vision will live on because Thorpe Hall is truly a remarkable house which has been beautifully restored, using solid oak flooring and even carefully recreated stone mullion windows. It was simply a joy for me to look round.

The house is on three floors with grounds which go down to the river and include a swimming pool. On the ground floor is a magnificent drawing room with a high timber ceiling and large open fireplace. The house is built on land sunken down from the road so the property is completely hidden and so quiet. It has a wonderful kitchen with stone mullion windows and hand built oak units with an Aga.

To the west there is a dining room, study, service kitchen (great if you are entertaining) and pool/games room with the third bedroom above. On the first floor is the master bedroom - the biggest bedroom I have ever seen - with a large window overlooking the orchard with a large en suite bathroom. This bathroom is Art-Deco style with a huge sunken bath raised on a plinth with a life-size statue of Marilyn Monroe beaming down on you.

The current owner acquired it as a collectable item because Marilyn was actually used at the premiere of Some Like it Hot.

Also on the first floor is a family room which was originally a library and has a historic fireplace.

On the second floor there are three bedrooms and a bathroom, currently used by the owner's children. The fourth bedroom is a very long room which would convert into two or be used as an office or playroom.

Outside the house has lots of different areas to sit in and you cannot get over how quiet it is. A real luxury is its heated swimming pool with an award-winning pool house all which overlook the river.

Thorpe Hall is beautiful and has a plaque telling of its restoration by the Burkes for future generations. It is a real family house and just needs some new loving owners to take its history on even further.