Meticulously restored to its former glory, today Morley Old Hall is home to
the Robson family, its grounds welcoming guests to stay, play and revel
in its 500 years of history.
Entering this Norfolk estate, a chestnut lined drive winds its way back in time, to the ethereally romantic and historically majestic Hall. Appearing as though in a fairy tale, the Elizabethan Grade I listed home with its Anglo-Saxon moat is at the heart of the stunning estate of Morley Old Hall.
Designed by Sir Jonathan Sedley, architect to Henry VII and VIII, in 1545, the Hall remained in the Sedley family until the 1790s. Today, Morley Old Hall’s custodians are the Robson’s, with Portia at its helm protecting the estate’s legacy and paving its future for guests to enjoy as a holiday retreat or as a unique event or wedding venue.
“Morley Old Hall was love at first sight!” says Portia Robson. “My husband and I wanted to move to the countryside and as he read Tudor History at Cambridge, this gorgeous moated Elizabethan Hall ticked all the boxes”.
It was no easy task to renovate the Hall, this was a labour of love. “The Grade I Hall, its gardens, grounds and Anglo-Saxon moat had been neglected for a while. The deadline was my own wedding day in September 2018 with the intention of the bridal party staying in the cottages on the estate and in the Hall. Despite the fact that we had just managed to get the basics done (plumbing and paint), the sheer beauty of our marquee on Willow Lawn helped to galvanise the idea of creating a business of hosting more weddings at the Hall,”
Over the next 18 months, Portia renovated and designed the estate’s old stables and cottages into eight beautiful guest rooms. “Our small Norfolk barn was transformed into a honeymoon suite and The Piggery is now an entertainment space with dining area, catering kitchen, bar, lounge area with wood burning stove and three additional bedrooms, which all opens up to the orchard and a glamping meadow beyond”.
Having officially opened for business in early 2020, the world went into lockdown, and it wasn’t until restrictions had eased that Portia could welcome her first guests, managing all the catering and laundry single handedly for many months. Today Morley Old Hall offers self-catering accommodation to couples, families and groups seeking a weekend break, staycation or to enjoy a range of celebrations, whilst the wedding trade is “looking like fulfilling my dream of helping couples to have the most magical day, just like I did,” says Portia.
Running a small business has its challenges, what do you enjoy the most about running your business?
I have a background in managing corporate and charity events so helping guests plan a celebration or wedding is something I really enjoy. Plus we have a fabulous on-site manager, Hannah, who really is the one who really makes the magic happen. We aim to make each occasion unique and respect each couples’ budget. They love the freedom of being able to create an event exactly the way they want, with our expertise to guide them. The biggest criticism we get from all our guests is that the photos don’t do the place justice!
How do you approach sustainability?
We have a small herd of Belted Galloways ( the “Oreo” cows), along with a few goats, a growing herd of sheep, a pair of breeding Hampshire pigs and various poultry, including turkeys. Initially, we bred for our own consumption. Now we are getting to the point where we can offer home grown produce to guests. The new one-acre vegetable garden is reaching the stage where we can offer bespoke boxes along with meat for barbeques.
Throughout the guest accommodation, I have tried to bring the British countryside into the rooms, in the unique décor and their names – Bramble, Bracken, Thistle and so on. We encourage guests to meet our animals and walk in the beautiful Norfolk countryside. Plus there is a secret, secluded spot (that I call Cocktail Corner) to watch the sun set, the pathway to which is a carpet of wildflowers.
What’s next for Morley Old Hall?
We are planning to host our own Open Day & Wedding show in May 2024. This is to give potential wedding couples an opportunity to view the grounds and accommodation, (although private viewings can always be arranged). We also wanted to give our local community a chance to see what we have created. Morley Old Hall is such a big part of Norfolk’s history and has been kept secluded for too long. An exciting part of the day will be selling our own goat burgers and soon to be released, apple juice from The Orchard.
Morley Old Hall
Morley St Peter
Norfolk NR18 9TT
Visit Morley Old Hall’s Little Green Book profile here
Morley Old Hall