Published: 01/10/2019Burnham Westgate Hall, a remarkable and historic home, occupies a spectacular setting in the heart of Burnham Market, and even hit the headlines a few years ago when it was believed to have been purchased by actor Johnny Depp.
Those rumours proved to be unfounded and Sowerbys are now proud to bring it to the market as the search for new owners begins.
Burnham Westgate Hall is a magnificent Georgian country house, set in its own park of approximately 30 acres. Abutting one of Norfolk's prettiest village greens, yet totally secluded, it boasts far reaching westerly views over the park to undulating open countryside. The hall itself comprises three storeys and 15,870sq ft of living space.
Approaching Burnham Westgate Hall, you certainly get the sense there is a long and fascinating history behind it.
The Grade II* listed house was built in the 1720s by architect Matthew Brettingham for a rich merchant MP called Pinkney Wilkinson, whose daughter Anne took on the house after her marriage to Thomas Pitt (the first Lord Camelford) in 1783. It resembled one of the four wings at Holkham Hall which Brettingham was building at the same time for the Earls of Leicester.
It was then remodelled in 1780 by Sir John Soane, who met and became friends with Thomas Pitt, himself an amateur architect, on the Grand Tour. Soane rebuilt much of the hall, making it considerably grander with a magnificent cantilevered stone staircase and first floor piano room nobile, later dubbed ‘Palazzo Pitti’ by its delighted owner.
The house is built of plain Gault brick with stone dressings in a restrained and pure classical form. Much fine architectural detail remains internally with elegant cornices, panelled doors, sash windows, some parquet flooring, and fine chimney pieces.
On Pitt’s death, the house passed to his daughter, Anne Grenville, and in 1808, she and her husband sold the house to Sir Mordaunt Martin, a keen agriculturist. He built a complex of farm buildings north of the walled kitchen gardens. Sir Mordaunt died in 1815, leaving the hall as ‘a hand-some mansion, beautified with pleasure grounds and shrubberies, and situated near the church’-to his son Roger, who never married, and died there in 1854.
Until 1933, the hall and its surrounding land were owned and farmed by local families until Lady Cook donated it to the Royal British Legion which used it as a residential house where young ladies could be trained for domestic service. It was later sold to Norfolk County Council as a home for the elderly until 1991 when it was acquired by the current owners and a programme of restoration and refurbishment was begun. All restoration has been done in keeping with the period of the property, but there’s ample opportunity to put your own personality into it.
Of note is the extensive planting and creation of the formal gardens and grounds around the house over the last 30 years, as well as the acquisition of more land to restore the park which creates such a splendid and tranquil setting and approach to the house. There has been much planting in the park and in addition to the original oaks and stand of mature limes there have been further plantings of sweet chestnut and lime.
This is a truly unique and beautiful home. It offers privacy and seclusion yet is just a short walk from the middle of the stunning village of Burnham Market, which includes a wine merchants, famous fish shop, two book shops, doctors' surgery, dental surgery, primary school, a post office as well as a butchers and delicatessen. It is also regarded as a central location along the north Norfolk coast.
Burnham Westgate Hall will give its new owners opportunity to enjoy a different pace of life, to experience the wide open spaces so typical of Norfolk, and to soak up sunsets across extensive parkland all to themselves.