North Folk, South Folk

When the Angles invaded the eastern counties of England in the 5th century, they divided the land round the River Waveney between the north folk of Norfolk and the south folk of Suffolk. Today, the Waveney is East Anglia?s Rubicon the last natural barrier blocking the relentless northern advance of the well-heeled City commuter. But for how long? Each year, increasingly dispirited locals from both sides of the Norfolk-Suffolk divide are finding themselves outbid for every really good house that comes on the market.

?The line is moving ever further north,? agrees Talfryn Llewellyn of Bidwells? Ipswich office (01473 611644). He has ?a substantial number? of London buyers prepared to pay from £2m to £4m for a 10,000+sq ft house with 50 acres, anywhere between Ipswich and the Waveney Valley, and ?reams of people? prepared to pay up to £1.5m for a good town or village property. The hunters will be undeterred by the £1.65m price tag quoted by Bedfords (01284 769999) for one of East Anglia?s grandest townhouses, the Grade I-listed, Georgian, Northgate House, in Bury St Edmunds.

The former home of novelist Norah Lofts, who died in 1983, the house was in a state of disrepair by the time Gerard and Joy Fiennes bought it in 1998. Now painstakingly restored, it has five reception rooms, six/eight bedrooms, four bathrooms, a staff flat and one-third of an acre of walled garden.

This article first appeared in Country Life magazine on April 6, 2006.