This immensely characterful three-bedroom home is set in over one-third of an acre of gloriously mature south-facing gardens in a quiet rural location in the Suffolk countryside. The striking architectural profile is a successful marriage between a charming double-fronted flint cottage, built in 1800, and a series of carefully conceived modern additions that directly reference the agricultural vernacular. Internally, a series of dynamic free-flowing living spaces span some 1,700 sq ft. Additionally, positioned at the rear of the gardens, a summer house offers excellent overflow accommodation. Rail connections are very good, with Diss train station a 20-minute drive away, providing direct links to London Liverpool Street in 90 minutes, while the amenities of nearby Stradbroke, Laxfield and Framlingham are easily accessible.
Setting the Scene
Private yet not secluded, the house is surrounded by open farmland, where expansive plains of the unbroken countryside provide glorious vistas. Set discretely behind cast-iron estate railings and Buxus hedging and trees, the house has a private wide-set shingle driveway behind corresponding gates. There is parking for three cars and a carport with a bike shed and log store.
The main façade is composed of a series of structures. The original flint cottage is set to the right of the plot and features dressings and a chimney stack built with Suffolk White bricks. On the ground floor, Flint has been used thoughtfully with dark grey painted weatherboard for the remaining elevations. Pantile roof tiles unify old and new beautifully, with a wonderful patinaed clay crown. The elevations form a courtyard around the exceptional gardens to the rear of the house, which extend out into the fields beyond. For more information, please see the History section.
The Grand Tour
Entry is through the front garden, laden with apple and pear trees, and to the house’s newer addition with a centrally positioned stable door and generous recessed hallway. Acting as a boot room, the light-filled hall has expansive fenestration that looks out onto the garden’s beautiful views. The main staircase is set to one side with a separate utility room and shower room beneath.
Suffolk pammet-tiled flooring leads to the open-plan kitchen and dining room, with an open pitch roof and exposed beams all painted a chalky white. There are casement windows to both aspects and butt and bead panelling; a handsome cast-iron wood burner provides a focal point to the room. Corian worktops rest above brick-built housings, with a double electric oven and a gas hob inset. Behind a plank door is a separate shelved pantry with additional room for a fridge and freezer.
A wall of exposed flint belonging to the original cottage leads to the sitting room, which encompasses the entire plan of the structure. Bipartite casement windows face both north and south and look out to the gardens from both aspects. This room is possibly the most characterful in the entire house, and exposed beams are left untreated, lending a great strength to the space; a wood burner is set into the open hearth. As is typical with the vernacular architecture of this period, a plank door leads to a box staircase, and what would have been the cottage’s original back door leads to the timber-framed sunroom. Here, expanses of glass open to the garden’s pond and French windows lead to the terrace.
The three bedrooms are positioned in both the original and newer ranges of the house. The first bedroom is en suite and is on the upper floor of the flint cottage. The second bedroom is on the ground floor of the modern addition at the eastern range of the house, though this room could also be used as a second reception room or home office. A wall of floor-to-ceiling glazing invites views of the garden while French windows open to a private brick-paved terrace set beneath a shaded pergola.
The principal bedroom suite is set above, encompassing an exceptionally spacious dressing room with wall-to-wall wardrobing (which could also be used as an additional bedroom space) and leading to the bedchamber. Both rooms have French windows leading to Juliet and pergola balconies and are enclosed with plantation shutters; views of the gardens and surrounding landscape are particularly exceptional from these vantage points. A spacious en suite bathroom encompasses a glorious roll top claw foot bathtub and separate shower area, which is encased in pale blue mosaic tiles and designed to be hammam-like with a bench and glass door.
The Great Outdoors
The south-facing gardens are exceptionally beautiful, peaceful, and private. Designed to encompass several outdoor ‘rooms’, the gardens lead to one another effortlessly along with a winding plan that culminates in open fields to the very rear. A brick-paved path winds through the gardens, leading from a spacious terrace to a seating area and lawn closest to the house.
Planting is incredibly diverse and includes roses, peonies, evergreen shrubs, and trees, while seating areas are positioned throughout various points to enjoy the unique views. A spacious summer house has French windows, electric heating and a WC with a separate sink; the perfect guest sleeping quarters or home office. The gardens are also a haven for local wildlife, with deer occasionally making an unannounced appearance, while the garden’s stream culminates in a large pond beside the house’s sunroom.
Out and About
There are countless beautiful surrounding villages and market towns and plentiful footpaths and quiet country lanes for walking and cycling. Of note are the villages of Fressingfield, Laxfield, Dennington, Worlingworth, Earl Soham, Debenham and nearest to Alderton Cottage, the market town of Eye.
Stradbroke, the closest village, is just a five-minute drive away, with multiple amenities, including a doctor’s surgery, a post office, a butcher, a bakery, a leisure centre and an excellent general grocery store. Roscoe’s at The Ivy House is recommended for dining and drinks. Slightly further away is Laxfield, which has a very well-regarded independent pub called The Low House, passing a farm shop with honesty box en route. John Hutton in Earl Soham is home to the best local butcher and deli.
Framlingham is the nearest town and has plentiful provisors, including excellent antique shops and independent retailers. There is a wonderful pub called The Station and a brilliant Italian restaurant called Watson and Walpole, while The Crown Hotel and The Dancing Goat Café are also recommended.
Slightly further afield, The Suffolk coast is noted both for its beauty and, increasingly, its cultural attractions, including Snape Maltings. Aldeburgh, Southwold and Walberswick are all just 20 miles away, or 35 minutes drive.
Schools within the area are very good. Wilby village has a primary school, as does nearby Laxfield. Stradbroke High School is well regarded, as is Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham. Framlingham College offers co-ed independent education for children from ages 3 – to 18.
Transport connections are very good, with Diss train station a 20-minute drive away, providing direct links to London Liverpool Street in 90 minutes, or a two-hour drive direct to central London. It is also under an hour away by car from the larger towns of Norwich, Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich.
Council Tax Band: A
Alderton Cottage is located on London City Road, which, despite its urban-sounding name, is, in fact, a quiet country lane on the edge of the village and was once part of the ancient drover’s route between Norwich and London. It is named after the Alderton family, who lived here for much of the 19th century and worked the land.
Wilby was first mentioned in the Domesday book and recorded on John Speed’s 1610 map as ‘Wilbye’. In the village, is St Mary’s Church, which is thought to date back to as early as the 12th century.
The church was rebuilt in traditional East Anglian knapped flint in the 13th century, when the south aisle, south porch, and clerestory were added. The highlight of the church is the beautiful 15th-century west tower, rising in three stages to battlements decorated with pinnacles at each corner.
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