Check out these beautiful properties for sale across Norfolk, Suffolk. Cambridgeshire and Essex.

East Anglia has, historically, been the butt of its fair share of jokes. ‘Very flat, Norfolk,’ quips Amanda in Noel Coward’s effervescent Private Lives. ‘Normal for Norfolk’ is a phrase trotted out – often self-knowingly – by its denizens as well as by those not from round these parts. The hard-to-imitate accent is routinely mimicked – usually unsuccessfully – and, well, it’s home to Alan Partridge.

All of this, though, is mostly taken in good nature – mostly, perhaps, because this eastern curve of the country can take it, thanks to the abundance of natural riches it offers. Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire are collectively home to some of the prettiest villages and the most breathtaking stretches of coastline in the country. The area comprises one of the two most prestigious universities in the country. It was the birthplace of Benjamin Britten, Thomas Gainsborough, Edith Cavell, Stephen Fry and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Admiral Lord Nelson. And it is also home to some very, very beautiful houses. As more and more Londoners exchange the capital for a more bucolic way of life, we round up some of the top buys – at a variety of budgets – in East Anglia right now.

Main image: Bridge Street, Saffron Walden, available through Cheffins

Binham, Norfolk


Westgate Old Farmhouse is situated in Binham, a pretty village which is home to flint cottages and Georgian houses aplenty as well as, most famously, the ruins of Binham Benadictine monastery. One of the first religious institutions in the county, it fell victim to Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries and, today, stands as a romantic ruin. Those with deep pockets who’d like to be within ambling distance of the majestic wreck should consider Westgate Old Farmhouse, which has been beautifully restored and manages to combine grandeur with fresh, coastal homeliness. There are woodburning stoves, a flagstone terrace and even a loggia. But what we love most of all is the first-floor balcony which leads down to a paved terrace. The perfect spot to catch the early evening sun.

Beeston, Norfolk


Few trading in their city properties for a slice of the rural idyll would imagine, even considering London’s dizzying prices, that country life might allow them to stretch to a house with a moat. And yet in Beeston, for the – admittedly not inexpensive – price of a terraced house in a more chichi area of the capital, you can lay your hands on just such a fairy tale. This Grade II-listed Georgian house, built circa 1780, comes with 1.23 acres of land, five bedrooms and a detached one-bedroom cottage. There are all sorts of extra delights – such as outdoor pizza ovens and gorgeous secluded gardens – but for us, and indeed, for any children who might move in, it’s all about that moat.

Southwold, Suffolk


Houses that come in under the half-million mark in Southwold are a rare breed these days, such is the loveliness and popularity of the town. This pretty little cottage is, we grant, not exactly a mansion; it has one bedroom, and is just 36.3 sq metres. But it is utterly charming, and would make a perfect home for a couple for the holidays – especially since it is situated a short walk from the sea. Picturesque and pretty.

Clarendon Street, Cambridge


Anyone searching for a classic town house should look no further than this very handsome Victorian three-bedroomed example, right in the heart of Cambridge. The location is enviable, just minutes from Parker’s Piece, while the spec to which it has been done up means that you need do little more than move in your belongings. For those working from home, it also features an EcoSpace Work Pod at the bottom of the garden.

Sculthorpe, Norfolk


Have you ever had fantasies about living in a Jane Austen novel? This pleasingly perfect example of a Georgian farmhouse – which is Grade II-listed – could have wandered straight out of Pride and Prejudice, thus ticking that box beautifully. Set amid 2.92 acres, it has three reception rooms, five bedrooms, a walled garden and even its own meadow and woodland – and comes in at a shade under a million pounds. We love the elegant proportions and the rusticity of the farmhouse kitchen, which comes complete with Aga, naturally. Some of it needs a little sprucing up, but the work required is really only decorative; all the original features are there in spectacular abundance. A perfectly handsome red brick Georgian home.

Lavenham, Suffolk


In the wonderfully wonky world of medieval Lavenham, the 21st-century is kept at as long an arm’s length as it is possible to get while still having access to modern conveniences (in 1967, for example, many of its telegraph poles were taken down and the wires set underground to better preserve the village’s look). The wonderfully low-slung Brett House, which dates to the 15th- or 16th-centuries, has four bedrooms and two bathrooms, a large garden and is a very fine example of the vernacular. Inside, the fittings in the kitchens and bathrooms could do with updating. But do not let that detract from the opportunity to buy a slice of history.

Horning, Norfolk


If you’re looking for a house with bags of character, this converted barn in Horning, near Wroxham, is a great buy. Dating back to the 1700s, it is awash with exposed timbers, log burners and all the hallmarks of cosy country living. The ideal place for a large family, there are some seven bedrooms, and a lovely south-facing garden with wonderful climbing wisteria. The interiors could do with a lift, but for the right family, this could be a dream home.

Saffron Waldon, Essex


‘Character’ properties often come with correspondingly eye-watering price tags. This Grade II-listed house, with three bedrooms and two reception rooms, in the historic market town of Saffron Walden, comes in under half a million. For that, you can expect to become the new owner of a lovely mature garden, a recently renovated kitchen, plenty of exposed beams and historic features a plenty.

Harwich, Essex

Michael Clark

Harwich in Essex is one of the world’s few unsung areas in the south. For not only is it choc-a-bloc with Georgian houses, it is also on the seafront and on a trainline. Not bad, eh? This ravishingly lovely house, which is Grade II-listed, is arranged over five levels, has four bedrooms and looks out to sea – all for the cost of a flat in the capital. More elegant proportions than you can shake a stick at.

By Nancy Alsop
April 2021

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Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.