Creative chal­lenge

TONY HALL takes us around a won­der­ful home crafted from a con­verted 270-year-old barn tucked away near Holt

EDP Norfolk - - Interiors - WORDS AND PIC­TURES: TONY HALL

DEN­NIS EL­LIS was a well-re­spected man who lived a lot of his life in one part of the pair of cot­tages that now form a sec­tion of this creative con­ver­sion in Field Dalling. Den­nis was a tall, gen­tle man, a church-goer and well-known in the vil­lage, so when Tim James came to con­vert both the cot­tages and the ad­join­ing barn into a spa­cious ru­ral home he wanted to keep the name alive and de­cided that it should be called El­lis Farm.

Tim’s mother, Glo­ria French, joins us and ex­plains to me the fam­ily con­nec­tion with the area. “My fa­ther, Fred­er­ick Arun­dell Tren­grove, was the vicar of St Mar­garets Church Saxling­ham and Field Dalling from 1935 to 1962 and we grew up in the rec­tory. In 1932 the church in Field Dalling was united so the vicar looked af­ter both. As a fam­ily we were quite poor and fa­ther told us to get on and build or make any­thing we needed. This proved a good ed­u­ca­tion as both I and my sis­ter, Pamela Noyes, are creative. She is an artist and I still do both sculp­ture and paint­ing, so I think that’s were Tim gets his creative ideas from.”

“My fa­ther, Michael James,” ex­plains Tim, “was very keen on boats and sail­ing. He bought a ship’s lifeboat from the Port of Rye in Sus­sex and con­verted it to a sail­ing boat which we took over to France on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, so I was taught to sail by the age of six, some­thing I still love to this day, now own­ing a Cromer crab boat.

“One sum­mer fa­ther brought his boat around the coast to Blakeney and, hav­ing seen Goose Cot­tage at Cley, sold the boat and bought the cot­tage for £700. So this was the be­gin­ning of my con­nec­tions with the area, with hol­i­days in Cley and Blakeney.

“My ca­reer for many years was in the de­sign and man­u­fac­ture of ortho­pe­dic ar­ti­fi­cial limbs, but on sell­ing the busi­ness I was look­ing for a new chal­lenge and, hav­ing loved

avi­a­tion, I started, with col­leagues, Anglian Air Cen­tre at Nor­wich Air­port which taught fly­ing on he­li­copters and air­planes, where I ob­tained my li­cence to fly he­li­copters.

“Look­ing for a new home I first con­verted a barn just down the road in 1994, called Moon­stone Barn, which I now rent out. That gave me a taste for barn ren­o­va­tions and as I used to pass by here of­ten, when I saw it was for sale, it was an op­por­tu­nity not to be missed. I used builder Bryan Wil­liams and his team, with fore­man Andy Catt, on the ren­o­va­tion and con­ver­sion.

"With my nephew Wil­liam, an ar­chi­tec­tural tech­ni­cian, we did the ba­sic de­sign join­ing the cot­tages and barn to cre­ate a won­der­ful, spa­cious, five-bed­room prop­erty with a liv­ing room, TV snug plus a large kitchen/ din­ing area with mez­za­nine in the 1747 barn area, with un­in­ter­rupted ru­ral views. I was here nearly ev­ery day in case de­ci­sions had to be made. The build took 10 months and was fin­ished in 2014.”

“By to­tal con­trast,” says Tim’s part­ner Ni­cole Thomp­son, “I have been in me­dia fash­ion. I was fash­ion editor for She mag­a­zine be­fore de­cid­ing to go as a stu­dio man­ager to Jet Stu­dios, an advertising photo stu­dio. I then went free­lance as a fash­ion stylist on var­i­ous photo-shoots. I am based in Bat­tersea, Lon­don dur­ing the week, where my two chil­dren, Mollie, 12 and Spike, 10, are at school and up here in north Nor­folk at week­ends. Tim and I met through mu­tual friends.”

“When it came to the in­te­rior styling through­out,” con­tin­ues Ni­cole, “I have given it the fe­male touch. I like prac­ti­cal­ity, pay­ing at­ten­tion to the struc­ture and his­tory of this won­der­ful con­ver­sion with some mod­ern twists.

"Out­side I love the walled gar­den, full of coun­try flow­ers, de­signed by Jackie Finch.

“The house has an in­her­ent peace and

quiet, with enough room for ev­ery­one to have their own space. There is also over an acre of lawns and grounds. As we have a dog the grounds are to­tally con­tained and se­cure once we have closed the dou­ble doors, so ideal for pets and chil­dren.”

“Field Dalling,” adds Ni­cole, “is a de­light­ful un­spoiled vil­lage, near to the coast, with easy ac­cess, but with­out all the traf­fic. We are also so close to Holt, where there is bril­liant shop­ping from a se­lec­tion of in­de­pen­dent shops and from Bak­ers and Larn­ers depart­ment store; what a gem. Like­wise we are very close to what in my mind is the best beach in the whole of Nor­folk, Holkham. We like go­ing to the An­chor at Morston; friendly staff, good beer and drinks.”

Both Ni­cole and Tim agree that the mas­ter bed­room is their favourite, es­pe­cially with the bal­cony over­look­ing the grounds, but equally they like the kitchen din­ing ar­eas as it is the epi­cen­ter of this lovely house. Mum also thinks this her favourite. The big sit­ting room is also pop­u­lar al­though, as they say, ‘it took along while to come to­gether’. My eye was taken by a large model aero­plane hang­ing from the ceil­ing of the din­ing area. “I bought it from the Dial House in Reep­ham, about 18 months ago.” Tim tells me. “It’s a Cor­nell Fairchild and had early re­mote con­trol, but doesn’t fly now.

“One of my pas­sions,” says Tim, “is my col­lec­tion of clas­sic cars and mo­tor­bikes. I have an Is­setta bub­ble car and an early Porsche 911. My col­lec­tion of bikes in­cludes a 1949 BSA, a 1955 Sun­beam and a 1953 BMW. My in­ter­est prob­a­bly spans back to the age of seven, when I had a BSA 150 to ride off road. I en­joy go­ing out for a spin and around the coast to Cromer or fur­ther round to Sea Palling. When­ever there’s time and we have cle­ment weather then its down to the boat that I keep at Stiffkey and is looked af­ter by David He­witt. I also take a bike once a year ei­ther off-road­ing in the Pi­cos Moun­tains in Spain or around Morocco, Por­tu­gal and Spain, how­ever I’m al­ways de­lighted to re­turn to this peace­ful cor­ner of North Nor­folk.” El­lis Farm, Field Dalling, North Nor­folk, is avail­able for hol­i­day lets: www.nor­folkhide­aways.co.uk 01485 211022 or 01328 711454

GUEST BED­ROOM: Sleigh bed from Mor­pheus, wardrobe and chest of draw­ers from Keys Auc­tions. Pic­ture by Glo­ria French, Tim’s mum

DIN­ING AREA: Table made by Keith Rear­don of Sher­ing­ham keith. rear­don@tis­cali.co.uk. Chairs; some Habi­tat some from Heath­field An­tiques at Holt, 01263 711609; arm­chairs from Keys Auc­tions, up­hol­stered by Tariq Sharif, 01263 740736. Aero­plane from Dial House, Reep­ham. 01603 879900

MAS­TER BED­ROOM: Right hand chair from The Cri­te­rion, Lon­don, up­hol­stered by Tariq Sharif, other chair a fam­ily piece. Side ta­bles from a French hospi­tal

KITCHEN AREA: Units de­signed by Ni­cole and Tim, made by Greg Kid­dell, mar­ble work­tops by Juan De­signs, Northamp­ton

Fam­ily bath­room: Moroc­can Tiles from Topps Tiles, suite from Bath­store

Ex­te­rior: Built around 1747. Now a con­ver­sion of a pair of cot­tages and barn into lux­ury five-bed­room farm­house, avail­able through Nor­folk Hide­aways

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