No longer the new kids on the block - Eton Lodge bed and breakfast has now been open seven years. In that time it has shot from zero to four stars, achieved a Silver Award and found itself hailed as one of the best B&Bs in the UK by The Independent, The Guardian and The Times newspapers and in Coast Magazine. Run by artist Stewart Lees and his wife Caren , Eton Lodge offers modern, sumptuous rooms with gleaming en-suites and lots of nice little touches - fresh milk and mineral water in your own mini-fridge, fresh fruit, wireless internet access, digital TV and DVD players among them.
The house was built in 1878, a time when walls were solid and ceilings were high. Outside there is off street parking and dry, secure storage for cycles*. Eton Lodge bed & breakfast nestles in a peaceful enclave just steps away from the town’s theatre and bustling High Street, while Hunstanton’s award winning beach, perfect for a romantic stroll (or donkey ride if you’re that way inclined), is just 500 metres away.
Caren and Stewart you’ve been
A holidaymaker’s pure dream
Together you make a great team
And our stay was truly supreme!
The first discovered Eton Lodge early in 1997. She was sitting shabbily amongst her well presented neighbours like a chipped and decaying tooth in an otherwise pleasing white smile.
Of course she hadn’t always looked so down at heel. The history of Eton Lodge had begun 124 years earlier, in 1873. In that year the original building plot had been leased from the landowner and Lord of the Manor, Hamon Le Strange by John Chadwick, a builder from nearby King’s Lynn. The lease was dated the 25th March 1873 and the annual rent was 4. The brand new seaside resort of Hunstanton St Edmunds, as it was originally known, was in the grip of a building frenzy at that time. Less than twenty years previously the only building on the cliff top site where the town now stood had been the Golden Lion hotel and that was empty most of the time. But in 1856 the railway had arrived and with it came crowds of day trippers. The town was suddenly booming.
So, by 1878 the house was built and on the 26th August was mortgaged to William Webster, a surgeon from King’s Lynn, for 200 plus annual interest of 5. Then, in 1914, the freehold was purchased for 385 by a Lucy Smythe and at around this time further bay windowed rooms were added to the left hand side of the house under a matching gable. A system of servant’s bells that has largely survived to this day testify to some affluent owners over the years.
But the house had, like many big houses in the town, been quickly and crudely converted to flats during the 1950’s to accommodate the large numbers of American servicemen based in the area. The servicemen had long since departed and though the house had continued with various tenants for a little longer, when we came across her she had lain empty for at least ten years. We were at the time renting a house in the nearby village of Ingoldisthorpe having just returned from several years living in France. All the while we were on the lookout for a large family home that could accommodate our, well, large family. To the bewilderment of friends and family this leaking, half derelict pile of bricks seemed to me to fit the bill perfectly and somehow it was love at first sight for all of us.
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