Anmer Hall: inside William and Kate's family home

Jul 6, 2015

Royal couple spend £60,000 moving private tennis court, in latest refurbishment to their country home

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are planning to spend £60,000 to improve the view at Anmer Hall, a ten-bedroom country house on the Queen's Sandringham Estate in Norfolk.

The royal couple plan to move their private tennis court 36 feet, the Daily Mail reports.

Documents posted on the King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council website, show that the Prince and his wife have applied for planning permission to demolish their existing tennis court and create a new one with an artificial grass surface a little further from the house.

The plan is part of a "comprehensive overhaul" of the grounds at Anmer Hall, which is intended to improve the young couple's privacy.

Following the arrival of the second royal baby, Princess Charlotte, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have left Kensington Palace to take up residence in Anmer Hall, a ten-bedroom country house on the Queen's Sandringham Estate in Norfolk.

When their first child, Prince George, was born in 2013, the royal couple spent several weeks living with the Duchess's parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, in Berkshire.

But following the arrival of Charlotte, the family are reported to have moved full time to Anmer Hall, a property they were given by the Queen, as William "focuses on family and his new flying career" in Norfolk, the Daily Mail reported.

Most of the Duke’s flights are believed to be from Cambridge Airport, but he may sometimes fly from Norwich, the Telegraph says. Both locations are easier to get to from Anmer Hall than they would be from the couple's London residence in Kensington Palace.
According to the paper, a "close friend" said that for the next two years William will devote himself to "family and flying in that order".

Anmer Hall, which includes a private tennis court and swimming pool, was originally intended as a country property for the royal couple, but they are now expected to relocate there permanently.

The vast house, described by the Daily Mail as a "secluded fortress", underwent a £1.5 million refurbishment in preparation for the arrival of William, Kate and their son, Prince George. 

Largely paid for by the royal family from private funds, the refurbishment brought the décor into line with the royal couple's taste, and involved an extensive tree-planting programme to afford the Duke and Duchess greater privacy, according to Hello. The property was also given a new orange roof, visible in the picture below.

Anmer Hall itself is a "comfortable unpretentious Georgian" building, says art historian Sir Roy Strong.

With large sash windows, Anmer "has a gentleness to it", but it is well located with ready access to the Duchy, Windsor, London and several racecourses.

"There is very little going on at all at Anmer," a source told the Daily Telegraph. "It is certainly not a social hotbed and there aren't any fabulous shops to visit." The royal family will be able to go about their business in privacy there, protected by the newly-planted trees, with a "battery" of close protection officers on duty round the clock and all visitors "closely monitored," they said. 

According to council documents According to the council documents, moving the tennis court further away "improves the views from the Hall". The news that the couple are doing so much work on the gardens at Anmer Hall "is further evidence that they are making the Norfolk retreat their family home", the Daily Mail says.

Last year, the Duke and Duchess completed a £4.5 million refurbishment of their residence in Kensington Palace, Apartment 1A, which was formerly the home of Princess Margaret.

Royal aides defended the renovation, the Telegraph says, noting that the once "uninhabitable" apartment had been transformed into the couple's "one and only" official residence, which they would occupy "for many, many years to come".

The Duke and Duchess are keeping their household staff "to a minimum", Hello says, but they have hired a full-time maternity nurse through Norland nanny agency to work at Anmer Hall for the next three months.

In March, the Duke and Duchess placed a discreet advert in The Lady magazine, which gave a "fascinating glimpse" of what life is like is like at Anmer Hall, "a life with children, dogs and jovial family meals at its core," says the Daily Telegraph.

The advert read: "Housekeeper sought for a large family home in Norfolk. We are looking for someone with previous housekeeping experience, ideally within a large private house, and preferably within a family environment with dogs." The couple were also keen to emphasise that "discretion and loyalty is paramount".

For the next two weeks, the Duchess's parents, Carole and Michael Middleton are expected to be house guests of the royal couple, and will help look after George and Charlotte, "giving [Kate] a chance to escape with the Duke for walks with their dog, Lupo", the Telegraph says.

This week, police in a Norfolk village near Anmer Hall have been handing out letters warning the media not to harass the royal couple.

William and Kate have asked photographers to respect their privacy after being subjected to "a number of intrusions" by paparazzi with long lenses.

The three-paragraph letter says that the couple "have a more than reasonable expectation of privacy" while they are at Anmer Hall and on the Sandringham Estate.

The letter continues: "There have in the past been a number of intrusions into the privacy of the Royal Family which in the main have been as a result of professional photographers using long-distance lenses, not only to observe the Royal Family, but also to photograph them going about their activities on the estate."

According to the note, which is signed by the Duke and Duchess's communications secretary, previous warnings have resulted in a marked decrease in intrusions into the couple's private life, which is why the plea is being made again.

"The Sandringham Estate trusts that there will not be a need to take any further action other than bringing these points to your attention."

Prince Harry is expected to pay the couple a visit in their new home after he returns from his royal tour of New Zealand which begins next week.

Living in Norfolk means that William and Kate are near Prince George's godfather William Van Cutsem and his wife Rosie, who live in Hilborough, just 40 minutes from Anmer Hall.  William's cousin Laura Fellowes lives relatively nearby as well in West Norfolk, and his school friend Archie Soames is in West Barsham Hall in Fakenham, Hello reports.

Pictures courtesy of Richard Humphrey/Wikimedia Commons

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