Hidden Houses of East Anglia

Following a visit to Elsing Hall near Dereham, Norfolk, Michael Hall, the former architectural editor of Country Life, observed sagely: ?Norfolk is a county of hidden houses, but it cannot have many better-kept secrets than Elsing Hall? (Country Life, March 12, 1992). Now the secret is out, for romantic 15th-century Elsing Hall, listed Grade I, is on the market for only the third time in its history, through Savills (01603 229229), at a guide price of £1.85 million.

Built for the powerful Hastings family in the mid 1400s, Elsing Hall was altered and extended in the 18th century, restored by the Norfolk architect Thomas Jeckell in 1852, and again in the 1950s by Maj George Astley, the last of the Hastings family to live there. The present owners, who bought the house in 1982, have further improved it, creating its famous moated gardens and planting a marvellous variety of trees in the surrounding 30 acres of parkland.

Timeless Elsing Hall has five reception rooms including a magnificent great hall, a study, a chapel, a kitchen/breakfast room, 11 bedrooms, four bathrooms?and a resident ghost. Savills quote a guide price of £1.2m for another little-known north Elsing Hall, Dereham, Norfolk, is on the market for only the third time since it was built in the 15th century.

The area conceals its treasures well, but a number of highly desirable houses

can be found if you know where to lookhouse, the Manor House at Great Snoring, nine miles from Holt. Built in 1525 by Sir Ralph Shelton, the fine Tudor house, listed Grade II*, was originally built round an open courtyard, of which one complete range survives, along with a later range and the original 16th-century front door.

On the market for only the second time since 1620, the Manor House stands in 2.5 acres of wooded gar-dens and grounds and has four reception

rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room, seven bedrooms and seven bathrooms.Classic old rectories are a rare and valuable commodity anywhere these days, but especially so in Norfolk, and the Old Rectory at Longham, four miles from Dereham, is one of few which tick all the country-house buyer?s ?boxes?.

Built in 1844 of brick under a slate roof, the house stands in nine acres of secluded gardens and grounds, overlooking open countryside. Refurbished by its present owners, the Old Rectory has four recep-tion rooms, a breakfast room, a conser-vatory, six bedrooms and three bath/ shower rooms. Outdoor amenities include a heated swimming pool, stabling and a hard tennis court. Jackson-Stops & Staff (01603 612333) quote a guide price of £1.2m.

This article was originally published in Country Life magazine, July 21, 2005. To subscribe click here.