Ruins of romantic lodge could become holiday accommodation

Taylor's Lodge currently and an elevation drawing of how it could be restored

Left: Taylor's Lodge as it currently stands in Gunton Park. Right: An elevation drawing showing how the restored cottage could look. - Credit: Daniel Connal Partnership

Norfolk holiday-makers could soon be able to stay in a charming, pre-Victorian lodge on a country estate, if plans to restore it are approved by the local council.

All that remains of Taylor’s Lodge, on the grounds of Gunton Park, is a chimney stack and the remains of some walls, but the landowner - architectural designer Kit Martin CBE - wants to restore the tiny building exactly as it once was.

The ruins of Taylor's Lodge

All that remains of Taylor's Lodge is a chimney stack and some of the brickwork around the perimeter of the tiny cottage. - Credit: Daniel Connal Partnership

The estate’s mansion, Gunton Hall, was almost destroyed in a fire in 1882, and lay derelict until Mr Martin bought it in 1980. 

“Inside parts of the mansion, there were quite large trees growing,” said Mr Martin, who restored the building and converted it into several apartments.

Gunton Hall, near Suffield.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Gunton Hall, near Suffield. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

In the decades since, Mr Martin and several neighbours have been working to restore the surrounding landscape as it was originally envisioned.

“This tiny cottage is in a rather interesting area of the park,” said Mr Martin.

Gunton Park, GuntonKit MartinFor:Edp Copy:EdpArchant © 2007(01603) 772434

Kit Martin CBE - Credit: Colin Finch

“It was created by William Sawrey Gilpin, who was one of our great landscape architects in the 1820s and his idea was that landscapes should be… romantic and picturesque and dotted with lots of little buildings like lodges, which are in themselves picturesque”.

The beautifully restored viewing tower at Gunton Park near North Walsham features in Enticing Paths

The beautifully restored viewing tower at Gunton Park - Credit: Roger Last

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One of these buildings, Taylor’s Lodge, is thought to have been built at some point between 1825 and 1835, and was lived in by the estate’s head gardener Mr Taylor. Under plans submitted to North Norfolk District Council (NNDC), it would be rebuilt using historic materials and reference photographs. 

“What we’d like to do is to actually put various maps and prints and so on, which relate to the story of the landscape… so that inside Taylor’s Lodge, we can have a little history of the place,” said Mr Martin.

His hope is also that, once restored, the one-bedroom cottage could become a small holiday accommodation in the vein of those offered by the Landmark Trust, a national charity which renovates historic buildings and makes them available for self-catering breaks.

An elevation drawing, showing how the lodge could be restored. 

An elevation drawing, showing how the lodge could be restored. - Credit: Daniel Connal Partnership

Mr Martin said the lodge was probably lived in until the late 1960s, but had fallen into its current state of decay by the time he acquired the parkland.

Another, much larger, of the estate’s lodges was restored to become the Gunton Arms pub.

NNDC is due to issue a decision by March 23.