Friday, 16 July 2021

Wolterton Hall, Norfolk

Wolterton Hall in Norfolk is a very special place. It was built in 1742 by Horatio Walpole, who was the brother of the first Prime Minister of Great Britain. It remained in the Walpole family until 2016, when Peter Sheppard and Keith Day bought it.

Running a large, old house and estate is no cheap undertaking. Quite often, the family historically associated with a place becomes unable to undertake the responsibility financially. Hence why so many such places have been privately sold or placed into the care of the National Trust (or in some instances, demolished). Therefore, people such as Peter and Keith who have committed to breathing new life into such places really should be commended for taking on such a big responsibility. And instead of the mausoleum approach that the NT take, Wolterton is being brought back to life as a living place: as a house, home, and somewhere to be lived in and enjoyed.

Dogs can be found roaming freely around the house. You might run into a plumber working on a leaky dishwasher next to a 15th century tapestry. Music can be heard playing (live and recorded). Guests come and go. And then you notice that the comfy sofa you’re lounging on still has its Christie’s auction tag on and you realise you’re sitting on maybe £25,000 worth of 18th century chair, and that’s absolutely fine - no holly leaves or hawkish room stewards in sight.

Probably the greatest respect that can be given to architects and craftspeople is that what they create is used and enjoyed in the way in which it was intended. Homes are meant to be lived in, and Peter and Keith are doing that, and are kind enough to want other people to come and enjoy their home too. Seeing such a historic place carefully and tastefully meld its Regency heritage with cutting edge design is fascinating, and I hope it becomes an inspiration for what can be achieved in other such places.