In a lovely rural setting, Belle Grove is very conveniently located for coast, country and town. Only 7.5 miles away through pretty back roads, Southwold is a very popular destination – as are plenty of characterful coastal spots such as Walberswick, Dunwich, Aldeburgh and Orford. See Out & About
Belle Grove is a 2 – 2.5 hour drive out of London, traffic permitting. There is no motorway into this part of East Anglia (something which has helped preserve its character). We’re easy to find using a Sat Nav or Google, but even so, take note of the final directions – link below. If you prefer to follow a traditional map but could do with more guidance, we are happy to send detailed directions.
A village shop is within 20 minutes walking by road or 30 minutes stroll over the fields. While there is also a village pub, it has temporarily closed while looking for a new owner. But Belle Grove is just two miles from the charming market town of Halesworth with its useful supermarket and array of independent shops. How many small towns nowadays have two excellent butchers?!
Nearby Halesworth also has a railway station, with regular trains from London Liverpool Street via Ipswich. The trundly two-carriage train service running on the branch line between Lowestoft and Ipswich passes on a wooded embankment nearby, which guests tell us they don’t find in the least bit intrusive. In fact, why not use the train to explore Lowestoft or pretty Woodbridge near Ipswich? Local buses go here and there from Halesworth. Further information available on request & timetables in the properties + local taxi firms contacts (also provided on booking as part of the Information Pack).
But it’s fair to say that wheels will definitely facilitate your stay, especially to reach all the wonderful pubs and eateries in the vicinity. There is plenty of private parking on site.
By the way, if you happen to look on Google Earth, please don’t be disheartened by the image! It dates back to March 2007 when building works were being carried out with all sorts of materials and farm machinery strewn about and, being in a rural area, updating it doesn’t appear to be a priority with Google. The image bears no resemblance to the current site. What’s more, what appears to be an ‘airstrip’ nearby was last in use in 1948!
On a clear night, the Constellations & Milky Way can be seen from the fields in full glory. You may be able to indulge in a little star-gazing of another kind hereabouts: just a few miles away, Southwold, Walberswick & Aldeburgh attract artists, actors, authors, journalists and media types. For example, P D James, Libby Purves, Michael Palin, various scions of the Freud family notable Emma Freud and Richard Curtis, Louis de Bernières, Ralph Fiennes, Diana Quick, Bill Nighy, Julia Blackburn, Jonathan Aitken, Angela Lansbury, Martin Bell and and, no doubt many others, have strong links with this popular area.
For Young Families
Children really enjoy romping around Belle Grove even though we don’t lay on any special child facilities. *** They just love the freedom of the environment and the quirky elements. The summer houses which come with the Upper Barn & Granary also provide great ‘play’ spaces and include Dressing Up Chests.
“Our two sons (12 & 13) have had a ball and are very sorry to leave”
As well as corners of undergrowth to play in, there’s a large expanse of grass at the back of the buildings for cricket, croquet*, ball games and general messing about. (*Being formerly cultivated, it’s not exactly a dead flat ‘lawn’ – makes croquet even more excitingly vicious!)
“The garden & summer house were perfect for the children”
*** But children do enjoy following our new Dragon Trail
However, DO NOTE that there are two large wild ponds on the site. These are unfenced and definitely not for swimming! Children love feeding the wild ducks and moorhens so those under 12 years must be kept under adult supervision whenever outside the secure enclosed garden that forms part of the let property.
“I’ve had a fantastic time” (Zoe aged 10)
“Out of 100 you get 100000000000000!” (Daniel age 11)
We are happy to provide travel cots (linen not provided) and Z beds (linen provided) on prior request + baby monitor. Please note that we don’t provide stair gates. The wood burning stoves have fireguards.
As regards the internet, we are registered with Talk Talk’s ‘Kids Safe’ which protects children from coming across inappropriate websites.
All properties have jigsaw puzzles and board games but the Upper Barn is especially well-provisioned including Jenga, all the usual indoor board games + garden games like Get Knotted, Twister & Giant Pick Up Sticks. See Indoor Entertainment.
”Many a night was spent enjoying the games, Balderdash being the most jolly”
ALSO see Babies & Toddlers
A Qualified CRB-checked Baby Sitter is usually available. Ask for details.
Babies & Toddlers
We are more than happy to provide travel cots, high chairs and stair gates on request. You are also free to request any or all of the following (advance request appreciated):-
plastic plates, bowls & beakers, toddler bibs, steriliser, plug-in baby monitor, baby bath, bathtime toys, non-slip bath mat, night light, nappy bin, potty, trainer seat, changing mat, baby toiletries and baby wipes.
For your peace of mind we can provide covers for electric sockets.
In the property you will find a special folder of baby & toddler related information including details of the nearest doctor surgery and child friendly venues.
Get-Togethers - young & old
The arrangement of the properties is perfect for groups of friends or family reunions across the generations – and who don’t necessarily want to be on top of each other at breakfast! While entirely self-contained and with private entrances, the garden door between the Upper Barn & Granary, for example, can be left wide open, facilitating comings and goings between the two properties. Likewise between Granary & Coach House.
“Our party, 4 generations from 83 to 1, has spent such a happy week here”
The 5 properties sleep a total of 18 adults: Upper Barn sleeps 6; the Granary & Coach House each sleep 4; the Gate House & Stable each sleep 2. Parties of up to this number (+ some children using travel cots/ Z beds) can book all the properties together. (We do reserve the right to request a ‘housekeeping’ deposit, payable in advance).
The largest eating area is in the Granary – we can add another table (to make one huge one) and provide extra chairs to allow 18 or so to dine in reasonable comfort. We are more than happy to provide any additional crockery or cutlery required, large platters, serving bowls etc.
“We were a group of 18 celebrating a ‘big’ birthday. We colonized all the cottages, which were all immaculately and beautifully furnished while being different and got together for main meals in the Granary. It all worked beautifully!”
Groups often like to avail themselves of the following, details of which in our pre-arrival Information (provided on booking) :-
As an alternative to flowers, consider pre-ordering a personalised celebratory cake. How about a special meal prepared inhouse or a special ‘vintage tea party’? A local company can put on an excellent Murder Mystery with a minimum of 9 participants.
Consider a pampering session – see Wellbeing
Products from www.originalsupperbox.co.uk
Party accessories can be found in nearby Halesworth www.halesworth.net/shopping
Subject to availability, you can even hire our award-winning house for pre-dinner drinks, tea party, murder mystery or special dinner, or serve summer cocktails in our exotic new summer house!
Finally, there’s our offer of a complimentary photo shoot – see details under that heading and www.northnorfolkvisuals.co.uk/belle-grove
Our one caveat is that you refrain from using Sky Lanterns as these are hazardous to growing crops and livestock.
Romance & Relaxation
The two smaller properties, Gate House & Stable are just perfect for honeymoons, wedding anniversaries, romantic trysts and birthdays.
“The perfect romantic retreat – everything I envisaged plus a whole lot more – most importantly, it put a huge smile on my girlfriend’s face!”
“This has been the best surprise. My new husband has really surpassed himself in organising this for my 40th birthday so I might hang onto him!”
But it isn’t just about romance: Belle Grove is a tranquil oasis, a haven that allows you to de-stress and unwind.
“If you can’t relax here you can’t relax anywhere”
“We forgot the hustle and bustle of the city for two glorious weeks and are returning refreshed in mind and body”
Weddings - how we can help...
Slotting in well with the many venues & locales for weddings in Suffolk, Belle Grove has become a popular venue for pre-wedding bridal preparation*, somewhere for family or friends to stay – and, of course, lovely romantic honeymoons.
We do have to stick to our minimum short break policy though – the price is based on a 3 night stay which is approx. 70% of the full week rate (although if you can’t manage the 3rd night it does mean that you can leave as late as you like on the 3rd day rather than checking out at the usual 10am).
Generally speaking, short breaks, as opposed to full week bookings, are only available between October – May. However it is always worth asking if a short break is possible at other times, albeit unlikely in the high season of July/August and over Bank Holidays.
* On our Wellbeing page you’ll find details of Suffolk Massage Angels who can attend you in your holiday cottage at Belle Grove – we can also provide details of hairdressers, beauty treatment providers and so on.
Dogs - with or without!
We welcome well-behaved (that is, quiet, obedient & house-trained!) dogs who bring their own dog blankets and don’t get onto beds and chairs! That said, if you don’t have a dog and are concerned about staying in a place that accepts them – all we can say is, don’t worry, we are assiduous in cleaning and you won’t be aware that there has been a pet in the place.
“I am allergic to dogs but the staff do such a thorough cleaning job, I had no reactions”
Please note that there is a supplementary fee of £25 per animal.
For the benefit of future guests, we do ask that dogs are kept to the living area only and – especially – are not allowed onto furniture or beds. Please bring a Dog Basket and/or blanket. We supply one dog-drinking bowl. If you habitually allow your dog upstairs to sleep or into your bedroom, please think whether Belle Grove is suitable for you as we cannot allow dogs onto beds (where they will very likely go if they can access the bedrooms). Another point is noise. If your dog is inclined to be ‘yappy’ it may well disturb other guests on site so we respectfully suggest that Belle Grove is not a suitable environment.
Additional ‘Doggie Notes’ are provided on booking or beforehand on request.
“Even our dogs (a Wolfhound & a Chihuahua) have been as relaxed and happy as we have”
There’s good dog-walking in the immediate vicinity including the perimeter of a large field at the back which comes in handy for necessary constitutionals. Details of dog-friendly beaches, pubs etc. can be found in the properties.
“As new dog owners we are very impressed with how ‘dog friendly’ Suffolk is”
Each property has a secure garden although tiny dogs might be able to squeeze through the railings along one side of the Coach House garden.
NOTE: The beach at Southwold is closed to dogs between May & October but the promenade may be used of course and there are plenty of other beaches that are open to dogs all year round. Restrictions are as advertised on the following sites:
Extract from our Terms & Conditions as relates to pets:-
* Pets must be notified on the Booking Application.
* Dogs must be under proper supervision and control at all times.
* A pet basket must be brought as pets are only permitted on the clear understanding that in no circumstances may they lie on the bedding or chairs.
* Pets must not be left unattended in the property or elsewhere.
* In the interests of visitor safety it is regretted that the following dogs are not accepted: American Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Brasileiro & Dogo Argentino even where these dogs are muzzled.
* Pet owners are responsible for clearing up any fouling that occurs in the gardens or grounds.
Thanks for your co-operation!
The Heavens Above
When conditions are clear, there is a fine view of the Heavens from the back of Belle Grove – we reckon nearly as good as from the Observatory at Seething, near Norwich . This led to the thought “why not provide a sky- watching facility?”
Thus our ‘new’ hut came into being (see blog) which is designed not only to store summer equipment for guests’ use, such as the croquet set and cricket bat & balls, but a Skywatcher refracting telescope. *** Not everyone will know how to use a telescope – it can be tricky learning how to focus on particular objects in the sky – but here’s your chance to try!
Otherwise switch off all the lights, allow your eyes to get used to the dark over a few minutes and enjoy the spectacle of the stars and planets above. Meteor showers, constellations and satellites can all be seen with the naked eye. (And there’s the added magic of possible sightings of the barn owls that nest in nearby trees).
Although we provide a planisphere and various maps & guides, up to date sky watchers may prefer to rely on their phone or tablet with one of the many apps available to help pinpoint constellations and stars.
*** Unfortunately this has been damaged but we are sorting out a replacement.
Gardens & Grounds
Belle Grove’s naturalistic grounds encourage wildlife while the pretty courtyard gardens offer privacy & tranquil al fresco dining: each property has its own old brick-walled garden attractively planted with climbers and exotics, including jasmine, oleander, figs, vines, kiwi fruit and olive trees. In addition, both Granary and Upper Barn have south-facing ‘garden rooms’, lovely places to sit and enjoy the sun, whether behind glass or on the paved terrace in front.
With their gates shut, all the gardens are secure and suitable for children and dogs.
The Upper Barn has the largest expanse of grass for playtime but all the properties (except the Gate House which now has a paved sitting out area) have an element of grass. (As mentioned under ‘Young Families’, there is also a large shared grassed area open to all for ball games etc. ) As may be expected, the two single-bedroom properties, the Gate House and the Stable, have the smallest gardens but what they lack in size, they make up for in charm, especially now that the plants are becoming well-established and beginning to burgeon in all directions. NB: The Coach House is walled on 3 sides; the 4th side is enclosed by a railing, so that the view across the pond is not impeded.
On a practical note, garden tables and chairs are provided along with gas BBQ and each garden has a clothesline (and pegs), which can be pulled out from the wall when needed and then tucked away again.
Beyond the gardens, enjoy a stroll around the ponds (if you have children please check comments under Young Families) and take a walk around the large field at the rear (very useful to nip out with the dog here) as well as the public footpaths around and about.
Belle Grove has been and is a working farm, the vintage agricultural machines about the place a clue to its past.
“Even the farm machinery graveyard provides an interesting landscape!”
We have no livestock but the surrounding fields are cultivated, so sometimes guests may be conscious of machine activity, especially around harvest-time and the subsequent ploughing and drilling of seed. Cows may be heard in the distance from one direction & cockerels and goats from the other, all from neighbouring farms/smallholdings.
Occasional bangs in the distance usually mean rabbit shooting or an automated gas ‘scarecrow’. We pursue an ongoing programme of tree planting and have looked to preserve wildlife by designating areas of farmland into a Stewardship Scheme to include wildlife ‘corridors’ and other conservation activities.
Wildlife at Belle Grove
Apart from the many garden birds, depending on the time of year you may well see pheasant, rabbits, mallard duck, barn owls and green woodpeckers – with sightings of muntjac deer, hare and fox. The growth around the track and fringes of the site is deliberately left un-manicured as this encourages birds, insects and butterflies. Teasels attract flocks of goldfinch, wild mallow is a magnet for butterflies and swallows love skimming the pond water. There’s no imported fish in the ponds (which are fairly newly created) which now host families of moorhens, mallard ducks and myriad water creatures such as frogs, toads, newts, water boatmen, dragonfly, damselfly etc.
There is a ‘Pond Life’ guide in each property as well as a Guide to British Birds, Wild Flowers and Trees + Suffolk Wildlife Trust information.
“We so enjoyed looking out for the ducks and moorhens each day”
Further afield, there’s a plethora of ‘nature sites’ from the RSPB Sanctuary at Minsmere to Benacre Reserve, which includes reedbeds and lagoons, together with woodlands and heathlands on higher ground. Lots more information in the properties.
“Over a week at BG we saw blue tits, coal tits & great tits, swallows, chaffinch & goldfinch, chiffchaff, garden warbler, crows, blackbirds, pied wagtail, skylarks, house martins, tree sparrows. Barn Owls, buzzards & kestrels, collared doves, dunnocks, jackdaws, robins, wrens, mistlethrush” (Ed. These guests were staying in the Coach House, which is a particularly good spotting place as it’s right by the pond)
Communications with the outside world
From Autumn 2016, we have invested in a radio-transmitted broadband system that is not reliant on telephone lines. WiFi is hard wired to each property and provides a faster speed and broader bandwidth.
The properties do not have a landline. As the owners live on site, guests who are worried about making or receiving an urgent call are able to use an extension of their private landline located in a convenient spot and available 24/7.
The signal can be a bit erratic (depends to some extent on your network) but a decent signal can be found in the grounds specially on our ’specially-constructed-from-telegraph-poles and slightly tongue-in-cheek ‘Signal Hill’, pictured right… Many guests make use of an internet phone service like Skype.
As for snowy conditions – between them, the authorities and local farmers seem to keep the main highways open save in the most extreme conditions (which applies rarely) and we keep the track from the road to the Barns negotiable. So don’t let the thought of snow put you off!
In each property you’l find:-
- Widescreen digital TV with integrated digital radio
- DVD player / recorder
- Bose CD player and iPod dock
- Extensive DVD Library
- Holiday reading
- Maps, guidebooks & local journals
- Loads of jigsaw puzzles & board games
“As our week progressed we found we actually enjoyed being at Belle Grove so much that we did not feel the need to go out every night – we were never short of things to do and read in and around the property.”
A beach hut at Southwold (7.5 miles) is available to rent by the day. It is handily located on the north beach near to the Pier and public conveniences. It has recently (2015) been refurbished and is equipped with aa calor gas ring/grill, table, chairs, crockery, cutlery etc. A water tap is nearby. No electricity though. Cars can be parked behind it (council parking charges apply, alas), making the lugging in and out of beach gear reasonably painless. More details on request.
“It was raining when we went and funnily enough that made it even more fun to have as a base”
The conversions at Belle Grove were carried out to a green spec. and our aim was and is to provide a high quality sustainable self-catering destination while minimising its impact on the environment.
We are now accredited with the Green Tourism Business Scheme www.green-tourism.com which measures sustainable practices. Having gained the Silver Award first time round, our aim is the Gold!
Our eco-friendly procedures seek to reduce our carbon footprint & offset carbon emissions through recycling and other practices:
- Energy saving lighting throughout, ceiling lights typically rated at 1000 hours
- Hot water generated by solar panels and circulated from a central pump
- Photovoltaic panels for generation of electricity
- Energy saving under-floor heating
- Argon filled glazing minimising heat loss
- Exceptional levels of insulation
- Reclaimed building materials used wherever feasible
- Energy efficient appliances
- Bio-degradable containers
- Chlorine free toilet rolls
- Bio cleaning products
- Ethical and local sourcing of foods, toiletries and services
- Recycling of packaging – cardboard, paper & plastic + glass & aluminum
- Recycling of batteries & ink cartridges
Did you know that every ton of paper recycled saves 17 trees, 7000 gallons of water and 60lb of air pollutants from being released?
Walking & Cycling
There is a network of local footpaths (map in the property) and masses of walking possibilities in the area whether along coast, in forest or over heathland.
“We have poodled and perambulated, mooched and meandered across reed beds, through forests, along the shore…”
At certain times of year you can join walking groups, which tend to go more ‘off the beaten track’.
A folder in each property contains local maps and walking suggestion booklets.
Although Suffolk isn’t anything like as flat as popular imagination, (leave that to north Norfolk!), it is still great cycling country. The nearest cycle hire is in Southwold but many bring their own bikes, which can be stowed safely inside the walled gardens or parked elsewhere on site (although we don’t offer lock up storage).
“We (us + 3 kids) hired bikes in Southwold and did the 15 mile round ride to Dunwich – loved it”
For the Countryside Code – naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/enjoying/countrysidecode
Complimentary Photo Shoot
Enjoy a Photo Shoot !
Wouldn’t it be nice to have lasting reminders of your stay at Belle Grove and your time in Suffolk? Whether you’re planning a family celebration or a romantic getaway, this is the perfect opportunity to capture your memories.
Well, we are delighted to be able to offer guests a complimentary hour-long photo shoot with our lifestyle photography partner, NNVisuals.
Although NNVisuals specialise in beach shoots, such as the photo featured on this page, they would be delighted to shoot in your holiday property or the grounds**.
Expect fabulous images for you to choose from and to purchase but do note that this is a strictly no-obligation offer.
More details at https://www.northnorfolkvisuals.co.uk/belle-grove/
** We are happy to make the Belle Grove House gardens & summer house available for photoshoots on prior request.
Pampering & Well-being
Enjoy being pampered during your stay by professional beauticians!
We’re delighted to offer you and your party the services of professional beauticians here at Belle Grove meaning you can enjoy treatments in the comfort of your own holiday environment.
Suffolk Massage Angels provides a range of complementary health massage treatments including shiatsu, Thai yoga, foor massages, reflexology and Indian Head Massage.
My Personal Sanctuary is a luxurious and truly indulgent beauty therapy service delivering 5* quality organic treatments to guests staying in holiday retreats across the UK.
To find out more including prices and to book treatments, please contact them direct at 01625 540557 or visit their website.
We can also provide details of beauticians who can attend you for manicures, pedicures and other beauty treatments. Just ask.
On Site 'Emporium'
Exclusive to Belle Grove guests (that is, not open to the general public), our on-site ‘bazaar’ is a treasure house of antiques, brocante & bric a brac, mixed with a trove of personally-sourced objects from around the globe.
“What a great addition to the ‘Belle Grove experience’!”
Exotic bedspreads, throws, cushions, tassels & silkscreens; prints, posters & paintings; authentic Africana, Rajasthani furniture; vintage jewellery & clothing.
Masses of mad miscellanea.
“An Aladdin`s Cave of a room stuffed with a treasure trove of items ranging from fabrics to prints, jars to jewellery and other assorted exotica.”
Signed copies of local author books are also available including Wild Paths by Jan Farmery (a poetic response to the mysteries of Sutton Hoo), Fruitful Endeavours by Moira Coleman (a very accessible treatise on the 16th century domestic arts of Lady Catherine Tollemache) and of course, Jo’s well-received Africa Approaches: roads to a far-off place as well as 2017’s Beyond Dragons: an architecural romance. See Publications
The Emporium is run on an honesty box basis so guests are free to browse at their leisure.
Christmas & Festivities
The start date of our Christmas week (and therefore New Year) varies from year to year depending on the day of the week on which 25th December falls. The start date is flexible anyway so if you want something other than that shown on the system, do ask. However do note that we can only accept full week bookings or as near as, not short breaks, over the Christmas and New Year periods.
We use wonderful artisan Festive Wreaths made by one of our brilliant housekeeping team. These are available to pre-order if you wish to take one home – see photo below with more examples on Jenny’s website jennyruddlechristmaswreaths.yolasite.com
We do like to make things festive for visitors so erect (at no cost to you) real Christmas trees appropriate to the size of the property & provide decent quality decorations & Christmas crackers.
“Our 9 year old daughter was worried about missing Christmas in New Zealand. No need, it was magic – like stepping into a beautiful Christmas card”
We can supply lots of of extra large platters and serving dishes for the Christmas ‘bird’ !
“An idyllic Christmas bolt-hole”
Main supermarkets deliver to Belle Grove. However, it would be lovely if guests were to order their main poultry/meat/ham from local butchers for collection when required. Same with local greengrocer for fruit & veg. + cheeses & mince pies from the local deli. Our ‘Christmas Notes’, provided to those that book for the period, contain relevant contact numbers.