What a treat. We were invited to stay at the newly-opened Ancient House at The Victoria Inn , Holkham. Just a few miles away from home, but an overnight stay with dinner was very special, and made us feel as though we had been away for much longer! The Medieval Ancient House (possibly `the house by the shore` mentioned in a manorial court roll from the 13th century, and variously a lodging house and bakery), has been owned by the Coke family for 350 years, and is next door to the Victoria Inn. Now with a newly gravelled path, edged with Holkham Estate`s favourite signature planting of Quercus Ilix, that leads you to the main hotel, it has recently been beautifully restored; its barley-twisted `Tudor` brick chimneys are in top notch condition , the mellow red brick starkly contrasted against the bluest of Norfolk skies. There are ten bedrooms at Ancient House, all very cleverly designed in what must have been a tricky building to sort out, in terms of what was going to be where. The result is a triumph with ten (as opposed to twenty which it so easily could have been) spacious suites, each with a sitting room with sofa-bed ( plenty of room to add a z-bed too), and TV, which gives flexible space to accomodate guests. Our room `Wilbrahams` ( all rooms are named after Shooting drives on the Holkham Estate), was split-level, so it had the feeling of an apartment, which was great. Decorated in a palette of soft greys, blues, lime and moss, the rooms have a restrained country house feel, and the sparkling white bathroom was perfect; a large bath tub with hand held shower, lovely bath goodies, fluffy towels and bathrobes, and an amazing drench shower. Fab. Our dog Harry the Lurcher came too, and as dogs are only allowed in the bedrooms in the main hotel, he slept in a roomy, secure kennel with a run, situated in the car park. He was as happy as , well Harry… We had dinner in the bar area of the Victoria, as we love sitting by the big bay window there; watching the sun go down over the marshes. Dinner was perfect, in fact the best food we have eaten there, and Sabrina looked after us splendidly. We both had the sublime lobster cocktail to kick off with, and oohed and aahed over it together. We then choose the rib-eye steak with the chef`s salad and sauted potatoes. Perfect. Naughty chocolate puds followed, I had the yummy brownie with vanilla ice-cream and my husband had the chocolate torte and pistachio praline. Full up! At 6am this morning, the sun was pouring though our window, so after my husband had made himself a cup of tea, the plan was to head to Holkham beach for an early walk on the wide sands, before breakfast. Oh dear. the next thing we knew it was 9.30! The bed was so comfortable- all plans abandoned! Harry joined us for breakfast, and the lovely waitress asked us if he would like a sausage. No need to guess what the answer was.
Smoked haddock, poached egg and hollandaise sauce was the order of the day for us, a real treat on a Monday morning. We had the most lovely time, as did Harry, even if we didn`t get that beach walk, and I envy the visitors who come to stay here on our beautiful coast. I forgot to mention the lovely gardens behind Ancient House, which are being planted with fruit trees under planted with wild flowers. How charming. We are so privileged living here in North Norfolk , but also to be allowed to be part of an Estate like Holkham.