The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday
‘We were pioneers of bell tents: now they all glamp’
West Lexham, Norfolk Treehouses, café, weddings
In the surrounds of Norfolk’s West Lexham manor, near the 12th-century ruins of Castle Acre, Edmund Colville has built a haven of magical treehouses, cabins, bell tents and flint-and-brick accommodation.
In 2010, Colville was a pioneer of “glamping” – a bandwagon many other estates have jumped on – and his King’s Lynn estate has now evolved into a retreat and wedding and events space.
West Lexham was previously a farm, and Colville’s parents didn’t have a plan when they bought it in 1997. Colville, who studied sustainable architecture at the Centre for Alternate Technology and worked on projects including the site production for the Secret Garden Party festival, came back to the family home “to set about creating an income”.
“We were funded by Defra and the EU to create rural employment by doing up the barns, which have become our focal space,” he says. “It’s sustainable – we used reclaimed timbers – but luxurious. There’s a concrete floor with underfloor heating, solar panels and big windows. Wood for the treehouse woodburners is sourced from another local estate.”
The estate cafe serves food grown in its biodynamic kitchen garden and its natural swimming pool is chemical-free and uses biological filtration.
“I think people are looking for experiences that go beyond ‘glamping’ now,” says Colville. “We were pioneers of bell tents, but it has gone mainstream. Everyone with a back garden is doing it.”
He is currently developing in-house wellbeing and nature retreat programmes, “but the space has been so popular with external organisers using it for yoga, art and music that most weekends are booked up”.