Welcome to our little home from home.
Poacher's Cottage is a diminutive, timber-framed cottage, dating back to 1800 and located at the edge of a conservation area in the historical market town of Halesworth. The conservation area was recently extended to include Poacher's Cottage and its immediate neighbour, lest their historical significance and aesthetic contribution to the town be lost.
Halesworth itself is a delight of independent shops, cafes and restaurants, in buildings dating back as far as the C16th, which line the Thoroughfare - a pedestrian-only street running through the town and crossing a tributary of the River Byth. This little corner of England feels like a step back in time, where neighbours greet neighbours and people have time to stop and chat as they wander along the thoroughfare or make their purchases at the weekly market.
Next to the old market place, you'll find a traditional fishmongers, selling the local catch, together with a thriving independent butcher. The centre itself boasts several delis, greengrocers, organic produce shops and wonderful bakeries, selling local sourdough and delightful patisserie.
In addition to the weekly traditional market, the town hosts a monthly farmers' market, offering locally grown, seasonal fruit and veg, together with local meat, charcuterie, eggs, flowers, honey and bread.
There's even an independent bookshop, with frequent signings from the not inconsiderable number of local authors. The area has long been a draw for artists of all kinds - for more than a century this sleepy part of Suffolk, with its wheaten fields and vast blue skies so close to the sea, has provided solace and inspiration to writers and painters alike. Vanessa Bell owned a farmhouse here with Duncan Grant prior to the First World War, before removing to Charleston. The Bloomsbury Set were frequent visitors, with Virginia Woolf delighting in the place, writing: 'Don't you think they have discovered the secret of life? I thought it wonderfully harmonious.'
Our little cottage offers a perfect respite from the hectic pace of the world. Perched at the end of one of the oldest streets in the town, it faces the little green lane, popular with hikers and dog-walkers, which leads, beside the brook, through leafy canopied archways, to open fields and those vast Suffolk skies.
The swifts in summer swoop and soar, endlessly chattering, nesting under the eaves of the nearby cottages, whilst murmurations darken the sky at dusk as undulating blankets of birds settle on their roosts in the reed meadow opposite. The owl and fox can be heard as the din of the roosting birds quietens with the setting sun and the gentle evening enters in.
Upstairs in the old oak-framed bedroom, a sturdy desk sits by the window, beckoning you, encouraging you to sit and contemplate the view. And, maybe, just maybe, stay a while, pen in hand, whilst you take time to explore your thoughts and share them on the page. I've always dreamed of a room of one's own, that creative space without distraction or the drain on one's resources from the needs of others, so when we opened up the upper floor, that dream of a simple wooden writing desk nestled by a window became a reality.
Downstairs, the bookcases and shelves are full of books - a veritable library - if you prefer to read in your downtime. And, amongst the dogeared pages and battered spines, you'll find dozens of classic cookery books together with literary fiction, poetry, history, biography and travel writing - plenty of inspiration to draw upon inside the house as well as without.
All paints in the cottage were chosen from the beautiful, handmade paints at Atelier Ellis. The colours created by Cassandra Ellis are inspired by art and nature, reflecting her own natural aesthetic. And they're glorious. They mystically change with the light, seeming to reflect the skies and capricious moods of the seasons, as if your home is a living thing.
Kitchen - Walls: Cass
Woodwork: Block Print Yellow
Bathroom - Walls: Cass
Woodwork: Block Print Yellow
Living Room - Walls: Pollen
Woodwork: Aged Black
Bedroom - Walls: Banyan Blue
Conservatory - Walls: Pollen
Woodwork: Block Print Yellow
The kitchen, cosy and companionable, is full of delights. Plenty to inspire and all you will need to create, should you wish to cook . If you're there with a friend or partner, it's important to have space to enjoy each other's company whilst you plan and prepare your meals together.
The town has many many places to eat within walking distance - pubs, restaurants and cafes, not to mention the various takeaways - but if you prefer to pore over the many cookbooks (ancient and modern!) in a leisurely manner, here is the place to perch. In the winter, you can toast your toes on the cast iron radiator and whilst one of you preps and pours the wine, the other can conjure magic with all the good things gleaned from the day's bounty.
Opening out into a light and airy conservatory, the kitchen gives way to a bright, sunny space which doubles as a dining room with room for two plus guests for dinner. As the sun goes down, you can sip your aperitifs and nibble on olives in the final warmth of its ebbing glow.
If you're lucky and you manage to get a little rain whilst you're there, you will be treated to the most evocative of sounds - that of rain on the corrugated roof - soft and steady, maybe a short summer shower or possibly auguring a wild and windy night, whilst you snuggle in your warm and cosy cottage. Either way, it's the most delightful of sounds, evoking warmth and safety whatever mischief the elements are concocting outside.
In Summer, throw the doors open to the little courtyard and terraced garden, overhung with young grapevines. If the evenings are mild, enjoy your supper in the garden. And if the nights should turn a little chilly, throw a rug around your shoulders, pile some wood into the firepit and feel the radiating heat on your hands and faces as the logs begin to crackle and glow. What a perfect end to any evening.
THE SUFFOLK COAST
Halesworth lies nine miles upstream from Southwold, a traditional seaside town of great charm on the Suffolk Heritage Coast. The town is wonderful to visit, but don't forget to make a trip to the harbour (where you'll find THE most amazing fish and chips (and wet fish shop). From the harbour you can take the foot ferry over to Walberswick , once a busy port, now a rural seaside idyll with quiet, picturesque lanes and beaches, making it relatively unchanged over many decades - another step back in time and an unspoilt rarity in the modern age. A similar distance away, you'll also find Dunwich, with beautiful beaches, heaths and forests. A dog walkers haven with miles to explore, not forgetting the nearby RSPB Minsmere. A few miles further up the coast you'll find the smart and fashionable Aldeburgh, resting place of Benjamin Britten, with its fine restaurants, shops, galleries and sculptures.