Featured Home: A dreamy family farmhouse
PUBLISHED: 15:53 22 May 2017 | UPDATED: 15:53 22 May 2017
Jane and Eddie Chorlton's farmhouse home at Halesworth is flooded with memories accumulated over three generations. Words and images: Tony Hall
As the weather is nice, we’re sitting at a table on the raised decking in the gardens of Jane and Eddie Chorlton’s Church Farmhouse, tucked down a lane near the church in Halesworth. Jane points to an upstairs window and tells me that was were she was born. This Suffolk farmhouse is full of family memories, collected over three generations.
“My father Ernest – known as Dick Daking – came to the farm in 1935 and married my mother, Dorothy, just after the war,” explains Jane. “The farm was around 200 acres on which he bred an accredited herd of 150 Friesians. The house is believed to be over 500 years old and has a wealth of oak beams and attractive nooks and crannies.”
Jane went to school at PNEU (Parents National Education Unit) in Rectory Street, Halesworth, and then St Mays Convent in Lowestoft, before going on to The Miss Holmes Secretarial College in Ipswich.
“My sister, Mary, and I had a very happy childhood on the farm, riding and exploring, also looking after calves and piglets whose mothers may have left them behind. We would go out all day with our ponies, taking a packed lunch, trekking around the country lanes. It was a simple life, but full of pleasure.
“When my father died in 1973 my sister and I decided to keep the farm, but the cattle had to go. After Eddie and I were married we bought the farmhouse and lived there bringing up our three children, Marcus, Ami and Spencer.” Marcus and Spencer run an events company, Silver Elephant, known for its original silver 1968 American Airstream Trailer, and have also recently opened Stag Interiors, a new business in Southwold High Street. Ami is an actress and model, who lives in Rome with her Italian husband.
Eddie was born and brought up in Peasenhall, where his grandfather had been the vicar. His father was in the army, but Eddie was brought up with a farming background, and was always keen on photography, spurred him by wining a competition with a shot of a sunset behind cow parsley.
“I started in 1966 with a photographic business in Saxmundham, doing mainly weddings,” he recalls. “I called the business Anglia Photographic. I later moved to Halesworth in 1968, also doing commercial work, which is how I met Jane. A local client wanted some advertising shots with a model. I chose Jane, but it was several years before we finally got together. At harvest time in particular, I had to divide my time between the shop, then dash up to the farm to get another load of grain in, before going back to the business again. Mary and Jane still own the land today. It’s now natural pasture.”
About 24 years ago Eddie and Jane built themselves a new house on the land about five minutes drive away, close to Eddie’s sister, Mary. Their eldest son, Marcus, moved into the farmhouse, but last year they decided to renovate it as luxury holiday accommodation. Marcus and Spencer did the work, re-configuring and decorating, and they all jointly worked on the interior design.
“Everyone was so pleased to keep our home in the family. It’s a beautiful old house, quite quirky, with so much history, a fantastic and convenient location, and ideal for family get-togethers.”
“We particularly like the proportions of the rooms,” says Jane, “the period details, such as fireplaces in some bedrooms, and high ceilings in many rooms, which you don’t expect in a property like this.” This feature has enabled them to install large beds, tall lamps and comfortable furniture, creating stylish rooms.
“My favourite room is unquestionably the master bedroom were I was born,” says Jane. “We only recently discovered a hidden space behind the wall in the corner. My favourite item is the bed in the dual aspect bedroom. It’s so elegant and stylish.”
Jane and Eddie enjoy going to Southwold at least once a week, to walk along the beach with their Norfolk terrier, Bumble, to relax by the river and have a meal at the Harbour Inn, then continue the circuit back past the water tower. Further afield another favourite is The Turks Head at Hasketon. These days Jane has swapped horse riding for running and takes part in the Southwold 10k. Eddie, by contrast, is into classic cars.
“I spend a lot of time polishing my 1972 MGB, then outings around the lanes. We both enjoy going in it to a great day out, the classic car show at Helmingham Hall. My favourite car of all time – one I would love to own – is an Austin Healey 3000, Mark 3. I used to have a Porsche 911 turbo, with two kid seats, but when we had three, it had to go. So I’m now making up lost time.”
Not surprisingly, guests remark on the wonderful feel the farmhouse has, urrounded by wonderful Suffolk countryside, as well as its proximity to the local shops and market town, just five minutes walk away.
It’s easy to get to the coast at Southwold, Walberswick and Dunwich, and the Broads at Beccles, where visitors can hire a boat.
“What has pleased us, as a family, so much is being able to keep this period building, this slice of history – bringing it right up to date for 21st century living without spoiling its charm, in this delightful corner of Suffolk.”
Church Farmhouse is available for holiday rentals - contact Suffolk Secrets, Southwold,
Tel: 01502 722717
Stag Interiors 64, High Street Southwold
Tel: 01502 724669
About Church Farmhouse
OWNERS: Eddie and Jane Chorlton
PROPERTY: Suffolk farmhouse
BUILT: Over 500 years old
LOCATION: Halesworth Suffolk
BOUGHT: Been in the family since 1935
FAVOURITE ROOM: The master bedroom, where Jane was born
FAVOURITE ITEM: The bed in the double aspect bedroom
FAVOURITE INTERIORS SHOP: Stag Interiors Southwold, owned and run by sons Marcus and Spencer
FAVOURITE PART OF THE COUNTY: Heritage coast
FAVOURITE DAY OUT: Classic Car Show at Helmingham Hall.
FAVOURITE WASTE OF TIME: Eddie – polishing his MGB 1972, after a trip through the local lanes
FAVOURITE WALK: All around Southwold, a circuit along the beach, the harbour and back
FAVOURITE PUB/CAFE/PICNIC: The Turks Head at Hasketon, and The Harbour Inn, Southwold