Featured home: Blomvyle Hall Cottage
PUBLISHED: 13:05 31 January 2017 | UPDATED: 13:05 31 January 2017
The winding lanes to the Blomvyle Hall estate in Hacheston lead to Marcelle and Patrick Otter's romantic hideaway. Words and images: Tony Hall
On my way to meet Marcelle Otter at her cottage, I find myself on a quiet single track rural lane, with rolling countryside and fields to either side, and only an occasional dwelling. So hidden away is number 2 Blomvyle Hall Cottage, that I missed it first time.
Built around 1820, it’s one of three farm workers’ cottages originally built and owned by the Blomvyle Hall estate. The outward appearance is delightful with its brick and flint facade. And this little gem is rather like the Tardis – deceptively spacious as it opens out into double width at the rear of the property. Marcelle greets me at the front door.
“Do come in – I’ll show you around.” First is the original front room, where during a full restoration – mainly by husband Patrick – an old 1930s fire surround hid the original brick fireplace.
“That happened many times, as we stripped away lots of old boxing in, to reveal many original features, left intact and preserved, but hidden. Gradually the whole character of this lovely cottage began to appear. The front room and the bedroom above, reached by a Suffolk winder staircase, were the original first part. Then, the dining room extension, originally the kitchen, was added in the 1930s, followed in the 1970s by the area that is now our new kitchen and garden room.”
What’s impressive is the Otter’s attention to detail. Upstairs the bedrooms each have access to a luxury bathroom, with bath and shower. On the landing they have inserted an old outside window into the wall to display the original lathe and plaster construction. Downstairs besides a great brick fireplace in the living room, a stylish woodburner, with an alcove of decorative logs to one side makes a design statement. Here French doors open onto a double width garden and terrace, which overlooks farmland. The kitchen is simply and stylishly fitted, with a door onto the garden, and all the rooms flow from one to another, open plan with no doors. Bold splashes of colour really impress, such as the garden room chimney breast and all walls in the dining area.
“People thought I was mad,” recalls Marcelle, “but I said I wanted to make it cosy and now everyone thinks it looks fab.” Marcelle is a local girl, born and bred in Ipswich, and Patrick is a Suffolk boy.
“My mother is from Guyana,” she explains. “She met my English father, married and moved to England. My grandfather was of Maderian decent, and married my grandmother, Julie, who is of Italian/Irish descent.” After school, Marcelle was a hotel receptionist and then an office manager for a distribution company. Patrick who has worked in retail, ended up being an area manager for, the now defunct, Comet.
“For a time we were also based in Norfolk and lived in Reepham, a town I liked, but Patrick’s job moved back to Ipswich, so back we came. When Comet closed and everyone was made redundant, it was the opportunity Patrick was looking for. He’s always been good at DIY, so he realised an ambition to develop property, first a home for his parents and then, by good fortune in 2013, with a small inheritance we were able to buy this house, originally to sell on. Patrick already knew the neighbour. When the owner died, the property was going to auction, but we asked what would secure it and went ahead.
“When finished, which took seven months, we both loved the cottage so dearly we thought, in time, it would be great for our retirement.” For now, the cottage is rented to appreciative holiday makers, while Marcelle and Patrick live in Ufford, ten minutes away, until their children all leave home. Patrick now works as part of the management team working on fund raising and income generation at St Elizabeth Hospice. I ask Marcelle about her obvious love for cottage.
“First the secluded rural feel,”she replies. “Off the beaten track, beautiful quiet countryside. You can hear bird song, watch the wildlife, but it’s very central to Framlingham and the coast – Aldeburgh, Orford and so on.” Her favourite room is the front sitting room.
“So cosy, with all the retained period features. It and the whole cottage have a very welcoming, comfortable, relaxed feel. I also love the two Parker Knoll chairs in there, found from a second hand shop in Leiston, now restored and upholstered by Ash Upholstery. When we stay here, I love calling in at Friday Street Farm Shop for provisions, which is really close, and up the road The Garnett’s Plant Nursery and shop is very good.
“My favourite part of Suffolk is the stretch from Thorpeness to Aldeburgh. Walking along the dunes you can just smell the sea air. Further afield we love going for a meal and drink at The Ramsholt Arms and watch the boats. Our local, The Crown at Ufford, is also a firm favourite – good food and excellent landlords, Polly and Max.” Both Patrick and Marcelle also enjoy cooking at home, finding it very relaxing.
“The whole family loves skiing,” says Marcelle, “so we try to get to Austria once each year, but other than that I don’t get much spare time, running a family home, plus looking after here, which I really enjoy. When the work is done, I love sitting in the garden reading a book, or we like cycling through these quiet rural lanes. Considering we’re only five minutes from the A12, it’s such a different – no rush, just like stepping back in time, to this country idyll. Very special.
2 Blomvyle Hall Cottage is available for holiday rentals
Contact: Suffolk Secrets
Tel: 01502 722717
Our favourite things
Owners: Patrick and Marcelle Otter
Property: Terraced country cottage, built circa 1820
Bought: December 2013
Favourite room: The front sitting room
Favourite item: Two Parker Knoll chairs found at a second-hand shop in Leiston and reupholstered by Ash Upholstery
Favourite shop: The Garnett’s Plant Nursery and shop
Favourite interiors shop: Two Peas, Framlingham
Favourite part of the county: Aldeburgh to Thorpeness
Favourite day out: Bike rides around the area
Favourite waste of time: Sitting in the garden with a good book
Favourite walk: Rendlesham Woods and along the lane in Hacheston
Favourite pub: Ufford Crown, Ramsholt Arms