Sally Mackereth’s Norwich
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Sally Mackereth’s Norwich
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Sally Mackereth is one of London’s most inspired and sought-after architects, as well as a brilliant furniture and jewellery designer. An award-winning architect working in a private practice for over 18 years, Sally’s innate talent is her perfect and acute understanding of space, whether retail or high-end residential, down to the most minute detail. Her new studio, Studio Mackereth, is a collective of architects and designers that aims to expand the parameters, specialising in luxury retail and commercial and high-end residential projects around the world. 
When she is not working or travelling, Sally, along with her husband and children, retreats to the family’s country abode – a converted lighthouse that was built in 1790 – near Norwich in Norfolk. Passionate about the countryside and the wild coastline, Sally is this month’s City Barometer guide, introducing us to the ancient town of Norwich, which dates back to Roman times. 
Brimming with heritage, meandering cobbled streets and Victorian arcades, today’s Norwich is a juxtaposition of past and present. 
How fortunate we are to view this bustling town and its environs through the discerning eyes of one of today’s most successful architects…

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Vincent Thibert
 

Esensual Living: What makes Norwich different from any other city in the world?
Sally Mackereth: Norwich is an ancient city, located about 200 miles from London towards the east coast of England in the county of Norfolk. It is an important city dating back to the Roman times. In the 11th Century Norwich was the largest city outside of London and was considered highly significant in the kingdom. Every age in history has left its mark. During the Roman times it was home to the Iceni and in the Middle Ages it became a fortified walled city.  It was a sophisticated Elizabethan centre of trade and commerce, then the Victorian age brought culture and literature along with its industry. Nowadays it is known as a cathedral city with a thriving and renowned university as well as a premier league football team.  The city is 20 miles from the sea and lies within the world famous Norfolk Broads – a network of rivers and waterways. In 2012 Norwich was named as England’s first UNESCO City of Literature.

 

 

EL: Describe life in Norwich.
SM: I live about 15 miles from the centre of Norwich on the coast in an ancient fishing village called Winterton-on-sea.  It’s a complete antidote to my hectic working life in London.  Our home here is a converted lighthouse that was built in 1780 and is mentioned in Defoe’s book, Robinson Crusoe.  There has been some form of marker or beacon on the land here since the 1500’s. It’s a wild coastline with sandy beaches and grassy dunes.  Norwich is the perfect town to have as the nearest urban centre as it combines plenty of heritage with a youthful and vibrant energy. We love wandering through its Tudor cobbled streets where the buildings seem to lean to greet you, the majestic cathedral built in Norman times, mixed in with elegant Victorian arcades of shops and cafes through to modern shopping centres with an Apple store, Top Shop and John Lewis.
Outside of the city centre there are several interesting small towns and villages and a number of large country estates, in which landowners who were once the principal employers lived, at a time when this area was predominantly arable farmland. These grand houses and gardens are now open to the public and offer a fascinating insight into the historic importance of the area and of Norwich and its former wealth and power.

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Studio Mackereth
 
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Studio Mackereth
 

EL: Do you have a favourite view?
SM: My favourite view is from the top of our lighthouse at Winterton-on-sea.  From here you can watch the occasional boat go by and seals playing in the shallow waters as the waves break on the sandy beach below. On the banquette under the domed roof is the perfect spot to sit with a Gin and Tonic and watch the sun go down.

EL: What is your favourite neighbourhood and why?
SM: Elm Hill in Norwich’s centre is a steep winding narrow cobbled street with quirky cafes and antique shops. You can really imagine how little it has changed since Elizabethan times.

EL: Describe the food culture - what local food dishes are a must try?
SM: Norfolk is a large farming county and being on the coast is also famous for its fishing industry.  Cromer crab named after the town eight miles north of Norwich is famous all over the UK. In Norfolk we tend to eat quite simply, sourcing the best and freshest ingredients.  The local farms supply the supermarkets. Most people grow produce in their gardens and its usual when driving around to find stalls outside people’s houses selling the excess that they have. Depending on the season you will find asparagus, honey, eggs, potatoes, beans, etc. The asparagus farm nearby has 10 different types, ranging in quality and size. Picking strawberries ourselves to make jam is a summer family ritual.

EL: Can you describe the perfect night out in Norwich?
SM: We tend to stay in! (As we are out most nights in London).  We love Cinema City, a cinema set in an old church that was recently converted with the latest technology, comfortable seats and a great restaurant and bar.

 

EL: Are there many festivals and cultural events in Norwich, do you have a favourite?
SM: The city has a number of theatres – many productions start in Norwich before going on to London’s West End. There is an annual arts festival with a comprehensive programme. The Voewood Literary festival at the end of August every year brings writers and artists together for a three day celebration in a beautiful arts and crafts house and gardens. There are many museums - the Norwich Castle, Elizabethan House, and in nearby Great Yarmouth, the Time Tides Museum gives a valuable insight into this important 16th century port, even taking in the invention of frozen food here!

EL: What stands out most to you in Norwich’s cultural scene?
SM: The intense variety. As you would expect with the combination of history and students, there really is something for everyone. New bands playing in the numerous pubs and clubs, art being exhibited in any number of old churches and halls, all linked by narrow alleyways and cobbled streets.

EL: What do you do to relax and unwind in Norwich?
SM: Take a boat out on the Broads, lunch with friends, beach walks to see the seals, visit the Owl Sanctuary, visit The Old Vicarage at East Ruston, a garden and Tea Shop.

EL: Your favourite city escape?
SM:  Wells-next-the-Sea – you can rent a little wooden beach hut for the day, walk along the beach to the Holkham Estate and visit the Wiveton café and farm shop for a drink.

EL: What can you not live without when in Norwich?
SM: You need a car to explore all it has to offer.

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Caroline Menne
 
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Caroline Menne
 

EL:  What is a “must-do” when in Norwich?
SM:  Explore and find something new.

EL: Which are your home Essentials for a week end in Norwich?
SM:When the weather turns cool, I like to dress up my bed with a Cecchi & Cecchi warm, oversized rib knit wool and alpaca blanket. I also love the cosy feeling of Kajaal’s Dorian cashmere throw. Nina Ricci’s kimono-inspired Mistral bathrobes are just perfect to relax in and I always keep tucked away for extra comfort, merino wool and cashmere hot water bottles by Hainsworth.

www.studiomackereth.com

Tatto Blanket

Cecchi e Cecchi

Tatto Blanket

 
CITY GUIDE - NORWICH
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DUNES CAFÉ
 

BREAKFAST

DUNES CAFÉ – Winterton on Sea

Perched on the sand dunes at Winterton-on sea, this café is a fantastic place to start the day - sit outside with the dogwalkers and enjoy the best coffee and Full English breakfast overlooking the waves breaking on the shoreline.

 

LUNCH

GUNTON ARMS

The Gunton Arms is a traditional pub with a difference. Set in an extensive historic park near Cromer in North Norfolk, the Michelin star quality food is the best of British from chef Stuart Tattersall (ex head chef at Mark Hix) who uses local ingredients including venison from the surrounding deer park. And the owner of the pub is an art dealer who has hung the walls with works by well-known artists including Damian Hirst, Tracey Emin and Jake and Dinos Chapman.

www.theguntonarms.co.uk

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GUNTON ARMS
 
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BURE RIVER FISH RESTAURANT
 

DINNER

BURE RIVER FISH RESTAURANT

The owners of this little place in the village of Horning left Fishworks restaurant in London to set up in Norfolk. A simple place yet this is the best restaurant for fish for miles around with a great complimentary winelist.

www.burerivercottagerestaurant.co.uk

 

CAFE

BRITON ARMS

We love to wander through this ramshackle old building up to the tables at the back where a  little garden terrace overlooks an ancient churchyard.  The owners of this place are sisters whose renowned homemade cakes make for an essential visit around tea time.

www.britonsarms.co.uk

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BRITON ARMS
 
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FRANKS BAR
 

BAR

FRANKS BAR

This unassuming little place in the old part of the city with a great wine list and unpretentious egalitarian vibe

www.franksbar.co.uk

 

DRINKS

WIVETON HALL

Wiveton Estate café is a buzzing and relaxed place for families and friends to gather to eat and drink.  We love to enjoy in the Summer drinks around sunset watching the changing sky overlooking the flats towards the sea.

wivetonhall.co.uk

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WIVETON HALL
 
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TIME & TIDE MUSEUM
 

MUSEUM

TIME & TIDE MUSEUM

A fascinating little museum stashed with interesting relics and local history which fondly charts the heritage of this significant maritime centre of England.

www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/

 

ARCHITECTURE

WAXHAM BARN

This thatched Medieval barn is the longest in the county and is a vast impressive space which offers an immediate link to the ancient history of this part of Norfolk. Recently restored it also houses a small exhibition featuring Elizabethan agriculture, the Woodhouses who built the barn, smuggling and shipwrecks along the coast and the resident owls and bats.

www.visiteastofengland.com

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WAXHAM BARN
 
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SAINSBURY CENTRE For the Visual Arts
 

GALLERY

SAINSBURY CENTRE For the Visual Arts

The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts building was opened in 1978. It was designed between 1974 and 1976 by the then relatively unknown architect Norman Foster.  Whilst I’m not a huge fan of the architecture itself, the collection itself and the space that lies within is well worth a visit.

www.scva.ac.uk

 

MONUMENT

HAPPISBURGH LIGHTHOUSE

Happisburgh Lighthouse is the oldest working light in East Anglia, and the only independently run lighthouse in Great Britain.  As a lighthouse owner myself we are now friends of the people who run this very special building which opens to the public on certain days.

www.happisburgh.org/lighthouse

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HAPPISBURGH LIGHTHOUSE
 
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SIMON FINCH – HOLT
 

BOOKSHOP

SIMON FINCH – HOLT

We love to spend hours getting lost in this eccentric second-hand bookshop housed in a wonky Georgian building with treacherous staircases and walls lined with musty shelves groaning with magical rare books to be discovered

www.simonfinchnorfolk.co.uk

 

BOUTIQUE

OLD TOWN

This eccentric shop has a cult following among fashionistas. Masquerading as a traditional market town tailor, once inside it becomes apparent that all is not as it first seems. Their clever and subtle twist on traditional workwear clothing would not look out of place in Dover Street Market.

www.old-town.co.uk

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OLD TOWN
 
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STATELY HOME CARBOOT SALE
 

MARKET

STATELY HOME CARBOOT SALE

Every 2 years the Norfolk Churches trust hold a fund raising car boot sale in the grounds of a stately home. This pop-up event is such a fun place to explore the stalls and tables stacked with random antiques and discover odd items of architectural salvage from grand houses in the area

www.norfolkchurchestrust.org

 

GARDEN

OLD VICARAGE – EAST RUSTON

I love to visit this garden again and again with the children for inspiration, relaxation and a cup of tea with a slice of their delicious coffee walnut cake.  Our friends, the owners, Graham and Alan began with a blank canvas of typical agricultural fields around the house and over the years have poured their love and passion for gardens and plants into what is now an extrordinary place extending over 30 acres.  This is the perfect place to witness the seasons of nature.  Nothing is done by halves – the gardens are full of surprises , always riot of colour and shapes – the perfect place to stroll in the sunshine on a Sunday afternoon.

www.e-ruston-oldvicaragegardens.co.uk

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OLD VICARAGE – EAST RUSTON
 
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GUNTON ARMS
 

HOTEL

GUNTON ARMS

There are eight beautifully decorated rooms only in this very special hotel attached to the Gunton Arms (see previous text). Situated in the one thousand acre deer park which surrounds Gunton Hall near Cromer in Norfolk. The park was created in the early 18th Century by the Harbord family and evolved over a 150 year period with a succession of great landscape architects including one of my heroes, Humphrey Repton. Dotted amongst the majestic oaks and herds of grazing deer you will come across modern pieces of sculpture by contemporary artists. Only four miles from the sea, 10 minutes' drive from tennis and squash courts, and 20 minutes' drive from the quaint seaside resort of Cromer and 20 minutes to Norwich city centre make this is an ideal base to from which to explore this beautiful and unspoiled part of England.

www.theguntonarms.co.uk

 

 

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