An Edwardian classic
PUBLISHED: 11:51 05 January 2016
Nicola and Kristian Mummery's Kessingland home is a showcase for her love of decorative antiques. Words and pictures by Tony Hall
At first glance, one might think little had changed over the last century in the imposing Edwardian house of Nicola and Kristian Mummery. There’s a modern car in the drive, but that’s about it.
The Kessingland property was built in 1902, probably for a local fisherman called Mr Gouldby, who was connected with the herring trade in Lowestoft. Originally it had only one bay to the right of the front door. To the left, an archway led to the large gardens. Later, the archway passage was incorporated into the house, forming the left wing, making the house symmetrical, as we see it today from the front. In 1998, Nicola and Kristian bought the property.
“We’re both local to the area,” says Nicola. “My mother is from Kessingland and Kristian, who is half Danish, is from Haddiscoe. His mother came to the county from Denmark as an au pair. Interestingly, Kristian’s family have been fish merchants now for four generations, so this house returns to owners with connections to the fishing trade.”
Kristian says he and his brother Thor are one of only a few fish merchants based at Trawl Fish Market in Lowestoft.
“We are Mummery Bros. We buy the fish directly from the quay, attending the auctions each day. We know the provenance and source of our stock, so clients can buy with confidence. We trade from both Diss and Bury St. Edmunds markets each week with our mobile unit, so cutting out the middleman and offering some great deals for our customers. We are continuing the family tradition of 150 years as fish merchants. It does mean very early mornings, but we are dedicated to what we do.”
Before this house the couple lived in first one, then another new-build home at Carlton Colville, but with two children, Harriet, then six, and Max, nine, they wanted somewhere with more space and to be on the coast.
“Our children are now grown up,” says Nicola. “Harriet, 23, a gluten-free baker in Reading, who teaches at art workshops, and Max, 25, who does the ski seasons in France, both love to return.”
What Kristian and Nicola both liked immediately when they viewed the property were all the original features, which were still intact.
“The tiled entrance hall, the balanced layout with spacious high ceilings,” says Nicola. “Considering the age of this house, it had not been altered a great deal.”
To the left of the hall, is a split level drawing room with a grand piano on the higher level. This leads to a large hardwood conservatory added ten years ago, which overlooks the gardens. It has the effect of making the kitchen lighter. To the right of the hall is the family sitting room, where there are hints of what Nicola now does. Beyond is the dining room, and then the country style kitchen, again with examples of Nicola’a creativity, which are also echoed in six bedrooms and a study upstairs.
Nicola’s first job was with the planning department at Waveney District Council. She then went on to working in education in professional development.
“I worked term times only, so it fitted around the children perfectly,” adds Nicola, “I also worked in a pharmacy, but finally I had the opportunity of doing what I really wanted to. I’ve always been interested in soft furnishings, antiques and interior design. I have made many of the window blinds and cushions here.
“I worked for the long established antique dealer Matthew Higham where I learnt the art of distressing and painting antique furniture – the shabby chic look – which is now as popular as ever. I have now been trading for six years with my my own business, Herringbone Decorative Antiques.
“Besides an ever changing range of painted antique furniture, I sell French and continental pieces, French side chairs and interesting artefacts. I often choose items for their patina, which often cannot be replicated, to accompany main pieces.” In fact, several of Nicola’s treasures are to be found in Sheila Brough’s house featured in the March 2015 issue of Suffolk Magazine.
“As my stock is continually getting snapped up, by locals and home owners from London, it really is quite a fun challenge to keep finding interesting furniture to fill the gaps. I’m lucky as I have a good range of trade contacts and I really get enjoyment not just from the search but the painting process as well.
“Over time there are certain pieces of furniture or objects I like to keep, rather than sell, but I have totally run out of rooms and space, so all stock now gets sold.”
This lovely property with sea views from the front bedrooms is just ten minutes walk to the beach, and has the added advantage of country paths on the doorstep. Nicola, enjoys running twice a week, in all weathers, but also long walks with her dogs, Wallace, a French bulldog and Rufus, a miniature dachshund.
“The dogs love the beach and the local countryside,” says Nicola, “but it doesn’t work taking them running – they like to take their time. They love sitting in front of the Aga, in the winter.
“My favourite room is the conservatory. I relax here looking out over the garden, with a good latte. My favorite item is also here, the faux bureau, which is 19th century Dutch. I spend time reading interior design books and magazines, often for inspirational ideas or trends. I also enjoy cooking, so the kitchen is likewise a favourite.
“When we go out we sometimes go to The Bell in Carlton Colville near to where we lived before. Recently a new restaurant has opened at Claremont Pier on the prom in Lowestoft called Mark G’s, which specialises in fish and is now a favourite.
“Living here on the Suffolk coast, in this property which we love, running a business I enjoy, one could not ask for more.”
All painted antique furniture in the house by Nicola Mummery, Herringbone Decorative Antiques. Tel: 07747777059, Facebook, or at Cornucopia Antiques showroom, Victoria Street Southwold, firstname.lastname@example.org