It was a blistering July afternoon when we arrived at Hoveton Hall. Not on the same scale as the major National Trust properties, this privately-owned Regency country house still has its own kind of stateliness, whilst welcoming its visitors in a much more personal manner.
We were met by pleasant members of staff and took tea, coffee or squash, with chocolate biscuits, in the large family dining room, surrounded by a selection of family and other portraits. Then entered our guide, Harry Buxton, who lives in what is still his parents’ house with his wife and young family, hot from his children’s school sports day.
Feeling like welcome guests we were taken through the two hundred year history of the house and grounds. There were links with people you read about in history books: Elizabeth Fry for one, and the Gurney family, joint founders of Barclays Bank. But the most important portrait was that of Mum and Dad.
Then we were guided through the other reception rooms and taken into the gardens to see the Grade II* listed glasshouse, with its iron framework and curved-pane glass roof – unique in the country. Followed forty scorching minutes in the beautiful walled garden, kitchen garden and parkland with blessedly cool walks through woodland and alongside ponds and dykes.
Finally, a return to the house for tea and cake, with a slight extension whilst some of our ladies went with our host to view the bed and breakfast accommodation. They were suitably impressed. What more could you want? A kind welcome, a bit of history, a lovely garden …. and cake.
Photographs have been provided by Stephen Johnson and Michael Steward. Many thanks to both.