I first came across Godwick when researching wedding venues. The Hall and Great Barn would certainly make a stunning setting for a wedding, and while we eventually decided to go elsewhere (back to my beloved Cley, home to generations of my family and the wonderful Cley Mill), the visit introduced us to the fantastic shepherds huts on-site. Log burners, double beds and sprawling Norfolk views? I was sold, and made it my mission to stay there one day. And we did!
It seemed like the perfect autumn escape, so in early November we packed up our bags to spend two nights in the cosiest accommodation you can imagine – and I was thrilled to discover that the hut was just a quaint and cute as I remembered.
It had a fully-functioning kitchen area, double bed with cosy throw, a lovely little log burner and it even had its own en-suite shower room – a small shower room, granted, but very welcome (and very unusual – most other shepherds huts I’d come across had an external toilet/shower block, which made Godwick even more appealing!). It was surprisingly spacious, with a lot of storage – there was plenty of space for our grocery supplies, and the very large crates/drawers
under the bed were more than ample for our bags.
Although it was self-catering, it was possible to order luxury ready meals from local deli Byfords, which were ready and waiting for us to heat up in the microwave when we arrived. A small heater was also warming the place up for us when we got there – a nice and very much appreciated touch given the time of year – and there were logs ready to make up the log burner.
We got to work on starting the fire as soon as we got there – it’s surprisingly difficult to keep alight, but when it was going full-throttle it was so cosy! – cooked our meals and popped the
champagne, and had a fabulously cosy night in. There’s no TV in the huts, so we brought a laptop with us to watch some films later in the evening, but just make sure you’ve got plenty of data and/or some ready-downloaded films as you won’t get any wifi.
We were woken the next day by a knock on the door and a lovely breakfast basket left on the steps – another potential add-on – which included warm mini croissants, preserves, yoghurt, a pot of fresh fruit and some small orange juices. The continental style breakfast could have been upgraded to bacon butties for a bit extra, and on some days it’s possible to have a cooked breakfast in the hall of the main house, although it wasn’t available the weekend we were staying.
Breakfast in bed shepherds hut style!
Luckily, it was a beautiful day, so we set about exploring the “lost village” of Godwick. There was a handy little leaflet explaining a bit about it in the hut, and information boards around the main historic site; a short walk past the Godwick turkey farm and on past the Great Barn led us to the ruins of the old church tower, the only part of the old village still visible, with raised earthwork mounds in the field being the only other indication of the village foundations that were once there.
The village was once a small rural community, first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, before it gradually declined due to poor harvests. The Godwick estate was bought in 1580 by Sir Edward Coke – of the Coke family who now reside at Holkham Hall – after which he built a manor house (which had to be pulled down in the 1960s) and the Great Barn, which still stands today. However, the villagers themselves left during the 17th century, and the village gradually
disappeared. Still, the ruins of the All Saints church make for great photo opportunities – brides and grooms are driven there on the trailer of a tractor (!) for their wedding photos – and it’s quite
humbling to picture the village that once was.
After exploring and getting thoroughly wet feet – it was sunny but had been raining overnight, and my suede boots and jeans combo was no match for the incredibly long grass – we retired to the hut for a picnic lunch and an afternoon of card games and hotel-hunting for our upcoming trip to Belgium. The laptop was set up on the small foldaway table, giving a perfect view through the patio doors of the fields and scenery beyond, the occasional sound of a shotgun piercing the calm (it was pheasant hunting season – we were in proper countryside territory!). If anyone ever wants to get away from it all, perhaps to write that book or work undisturbed, this would be the place. Bliss!
That night we ventured out to a lovely pub restaurant for dinner. The Dabbling Duck, recommended by James at Godwick, was a short drive away and well worth it – fantastic food, amazing atmosphere and in the most gorgeous little place! Great Massingham is the quintessential English village – think a village green, pond, church and local pub. Just
gorgeous (too dark for pictures though so you’ll have to take my word for it!).
It was all over far too quickly. The next day we had to pack up and leave – after our lovely breakfast basket, of course – and as we drove away, the heavens opened and it started pouring with rain. The weather felt how we did!
The whole weekend was fabulous, and I can definitely recommend the huts for anyone who wants cosy self-catering with a bit of luxe thrown in. Just a few tips: the huts get very cold in winter so make sure to pack plenty of layers and thick socks, and be prepared for chilly trips to the en-suite. It’s worth requesting extra logs in advance as one truckle won’t get very far – plan for one load per day.
Oh, and if you’re going in the summer, definitely request the barbeque – we didn’t go for it given the time of year but it would be the perfect spot for it in the warmer months – and there’s even a
dog-friendly hut for those with a four-legged friend.
What more can I say? As I said to the host as we left – we’ll be back!