dreamy rentals in Norfolk with interiors by Flora Soames

Barsham Barns is based on six 19th century farm buildings (Barsham Barns)

Barsham Barns sits peacefully on a 3,000-acre estate that has been in the hands of the Soames family (descendants of Sir Winston Churchill) for three generations, set amongst sweeping meadows, rolling farmland and the flintstone cottages of the north Norfolk countryside, Barsham Barns affords itself a piece of country life on modern terms.

Two decades ago, the collection of six 19th-century farmhouses was sold to a local architect, but in 2020 the Soames family got their hands on them again and, with a renowned interior designer in their ranks, who better to oversee Barsham’s beautiful new one Transformation?

Now they really are very special. Inside, traditional brick and flint walls hide Flora Soames’ jewel box-patterned interiors, with chic living spaces designed for families and groups of friends who want to enjoy the comforts of a five-star hotel. Here’s a utopian bubble you’ll never want to burst.

Where is it?

In the swamp and dune wilderness of North Norfolk, a land of wide open spaces dotted with rickety windmills, sleepy flint villages and motley pubs. It’s hardly surprising that royalty have such an affinity for this area, as it is one of the most tranquil places in England with a spectacular stretch of coastline that has been designated an Area of ​​Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Barsham Barns offers 3,000 acres to explore (Barsham Barns)

Barsham Barns offers 3,000 acres to explore (Barsham Barns)

Barsham Barns is in North Barsham, just outside the picturesque village of Walsingham, a Christian pilgrimage site where kings and queens regularly came to visit its shrines, holy wells and priory.

Bring your wellies because Barsham’s 3,000 acres are all yours to explore. From 350 acres of ancient, restored forest to family-friendly cycle paths (you can hire a bike on site or bring your own), a visit is all about getting lost in nature, trudging through fields, hiking across meadows and Pooh sticks to play on the river Stiffkey. Good old-fashioned Five Five adventures await here.

style

With six self-catering barns sleeping between four and 14 people and the seven-bedroom Meadow House (where Flora and her family grew up), Barsham makes multi-generational holidays a breeze.

Long Meadow, formerly the eight-person milking parlour, is an oasis of modern, rustic style. With its exposed walls, high ceilings, and open-plan design, this space would easily feel a little sterile, but it’s far from it. From the oversized blue striped lampshades to the ikat footstools, modern wood burning stove and freshly picked flowers sprouting from jugs in every corner, there is a real playful warmth to the place.

Bedrooms offer cozy curtains (Barsham Barns)

Bedrooms offer cozy curtains (Barsham Barns)

There’s a soft, pretty palette for every space. Beds have pastel-colored upholstered headboards, striped ruffles, and coral wool throws with chintzy drapes and gray-washed furniture. Even the children’s room features a cheerful circus stripe curtain along the lower bunk. It’s the home your Instagram feed has always wanted.

facilities

You’ll be greeted with a hamper containing some of the area’s finest produce – local jam, Walsingham honey, Barsham Brewery beer (more on that later) and Fakenham sourdough, while bathrooms are stocked with gorgeous Holt-based products from Norfolk Natural Living are stocked.

There’s a cupboard full of board games, pretty china for afternoon tea parties, plastic cups for picnics on the beach and plenty of local and wildlife books – every aspect of your stay in Norfolk has been thoughtfully thought through.

Interior designer Flora Soames designed the interiors of Barsham Barns (Barsham Barns)

Interior designer Flora Soames designed the interiors of Barsham Barns (Barsham Barns)

If you want a little rest and relaxation, the barns share a mini-spa with a hot tub big enough for 10 people and a steam room that you can lock out for two-hour sessions.

Outside the curriculum

There is so much on your doorstep here. Wells-next-the-Sea, famous for its sherbet-colored beach huts and talcum-soft sand, is an easy 10-minute drive from Barsham and is perfect for kite flying, or there’s wild and unspoilt Holkham Beach, a scenic backdrop to Picnics in the dunes, digging for cockles and wading in streams.

North Norfolk has something to offer visitors in all seasons (Barsham Barns)

North Norfolk has something to offer visitors in all seasons (Barsham Barns)

While you’re there, don’t miss a guided tour of the towering 18th-century Holkham Hall, still privately owned by the Earl of Leicester, and one of the finest examples of Palladian architecture in the country, where the rooms are decorated with paintings lined by Van Dyck and Rubens.

Spend an afternoon in the nearby town of cobblestone Burnham Market, an elegant Georgian haven with well-kept vegetables, lifestyle shops, delicatessens and a fishmonger called Gurneys, famous for its pot prawns and fish cakes.

Less than 30 minutes from Barsham is the charming seaside village of Blakeney, teeming with fisherman’s cottages and old-fashioned pubs. This was once a busy trading port until the estuary began to silt up, preventing access for all but pleasure craft, leaving a sprawling landscape of marshes, sand hills and mud banks. It is also home to England’s largest breeding colony of gray seals and more than 3,000 fluffy pups are born each year at National Trust-owned Blakeney Point. Take a boat trip from the quay, even better if it’s during the winter birth season.

Eat Drink

Whether you just want to play house for a weekend and invite the caterers (they will send you a guide to the best local home cooks in the area before you arrive) or fancy cooking your signature bolognese for the whole brood, they have it all what you need here.

Stock up on supplies at the nearby Walsingham Farms shop, where the shelves are teeming with everything from eggs laid that morning by the farm across the street to homegrown vegetables and meat from locally raised animals. Fish lovers should make their way to the Cley Smokehouse, a traditional smokehouse offering handcrafted smoked fish and meats (the kippers and smoked salmon should definitely make your basket).

Local produce can be prepared in the spacious kitchen (Barsham Barns).

Local produce can be prepared in the spacious kitchen (Barsham Barns).

Don’t miss lunch at The Victoria, just a stone’s throw from Holkham beach, where muddy boots and dogs are welcomed with open arms and you’ll find a wide range of home-grown produce – from Holkham pheasant to sausage and venison to Hummer Wells-by-the-Sea. A leisurely 30 minute stroll from your barn door brings you to the local watering hole, The Barsham Arms, where you can wash down alongside roaring fires with decent ales and wines from the nearby Cobble Hill vineyard.

Of course, the great thing about Barsham is that it conveniently has its own brewery on site. Barsham Brewery creates award-winning craft beers using locally grown barley, locally sourced malt and water from Barsham’s own bolthole. Book a tour with Manager Rob and you’ll see the entire brewing process with plenty of tasting opportunities.

Best for…

This is an escape from it all to the North Norfolk countryside, whatever the season. Whether for a week in July, when wild river swimming and a BBQ under an apricot sunset await, or in the clear blue skies of a stormy February, Barsham Barns offers a pampering retreat away from the hectic crowds.

The details

A three day break at Barsham Barns at The Loose Box (sleeps four) starts from £550; Barshambarns.co.uk

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