Sleepover: A night in East Anglia
Sunday 14 April 2002
Where is it?
In Beccles, a few miles inland from the Norfolk resort of Great Yarmouth.
What's it like?
Large grade II-listed Queen Anne red-brick country house set in impressive grounds. The interior is tastefully decked out with a nod to period authenticity, but with the emphasis on comfort. Chandeliers and antique knick-knacks add a note of grandeur, though not to the extent that you are afraid to touch anything.
What's its USP?
The Elms has two-and-a-half acres of outstanding gardens. The rose walk and topiary are impressive, but it is the lake and the moat that really make the place. These are inhabited by carp, tench and roach (fishing by arrangement), as well as waterfowl and turquoise dragonflies.
The Elms has been the Freeland family home for more than 150 years, and still very much is, as evidenced by the family portraits and photographs dotted around. This is endearing rather than intimidating, because you are made to feel so welcome. The large sitting room and spacious garden mean that you never run out of space to relax in.
At least one of the family is on hand at all times to set you up with an ice-cold beer on the terrace or give you a quick tour of the grounds.
Large and light with views over the countryside. Our double had a private, rather than an en-suite, bathroom, although this was not way up a corridor. The interesting throne room looks more Swedish sauna than English country house. The one other bedroom is a twin with en-suite facilities.
Excellent breakfasts are included (at £35 per person per night, this makes a stay here quite a bargain). Evening meals need to be booked in advance (nearby Beccles has a selection of passable restaurants, too).
Urban professionals trying to get away from it all; those who fancy their own country seat; anglers and twitchers.
Things to do?
You are just a short drive from the kiss-me-quick tackiness of Great Yarmouth, which must have more crazy golf per mile than anywhere else on earth. More refined, duney beaches can also be found nearby, but you could just stay on site and watch the wildlife.
The Elms, Toft Monks, Beccles, Suffolk NR34 0EJ (01502 677380; www. freelandenterprises.co.uk).
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