Inside Anmer Hall: William and Kate’s ‘Countryside bolthole’
Refurbished Georgian home provides relaxed respite from royal life, say sources
Anmer Hall has frequently hosted the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their three children during school holidays and, more recently, during national lockdowns.
The couple homeschooled their children from their Norfolk home during 2020, and they continued to conduct royal engagements there via video calls, which gave the public glimpses of the “countryside bolthole”, as Hello! describes it.
A source has told People that “there’s no airs and graces” at Anmer Hall, which is very much “a normal, busy family home”. Little is known about the inside, which is purposely “kept very private”, but its contemporary interiors are reportedly testament to Kate Middleton’s “accessible style choices”, a style advisor told the Daily Express.
Here is everything you need to know about the house.
The family home’s history
Originally constructed in 1802, Anmer Hall was home to the family of Hugh Van Cutsem Snr, the late university friend of Prince Charles, and visited by Princes William and Harry when they were children, Town and Country reports. Van Cutsem Snr's sons, William and Nicholas, are godfather to Prince George and Prince Louis respectively.
Anmer Hall reportedly has ten bedrooms, and boasts both a swimming pool and private tennis court. Following the birth of Princess Charlotte in 2015 the couple took up full-time residence in Norfolk, as William focused on his family and flying career with East Anglian Air Ambulance.
Since then, William has given up his flying career to take on more official royal duties and, with Prince George and Princess Charlotte now at school in South West London, the family had been spending considerably less time in Norfolk prior to the pandemic. It is, nevertheless, a firm favourite of the family for school holidays.
Refurbishment and renovation
The couple spent several million pounds refurbishing the Georgian mansion. Documents posted on the King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council website showed that the prince and his wife had 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 was part of a “comprehensive overhaul” of the grounds at Anmer Hall, intended to improve privacy for William, Kate, George, Charlotte and Louis. They are also said to have a new “glazed garden room” and a new kitchen, where the couple reportedly spend a lot of time socialising. The Queen “couldn’t get her head around” this habit when she first visited them at Anmer Hall, one insider told the Daily Express: “In her mind, that is where all the kitchen staff work.”
Refurbishment for the vast house, described by the Daily Mail as a “secluded fortress”, was largely paid for by the royal family from private funds and is reported to have cost £1.5m. The decor has been brought into line with the royal couple’s tastes, 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.
The Duke and Duchess have also completed a £4.5m refurbishment of their residence in Kensington Palace, Apartment 1A, which was formerly the home of Princess Margaret.
Anmer Hall itself is a “comfortable, unpretentious Georgian” building, says art historian Sir Roy Strong in The Telegraph. 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,” one source told the Telegraph. “It is certainly not a social hotbed and there aren’t any fabulous shops to visit.”
The royal family are able to go about their business in privacy there with a “battery” of close protection officers on duty round the clock and all visitors “closely monitored”, the source said.
Since their wedding in 2011, both William and Kate have been spotted in the local area shopping, visiting pubs and taking the children to enjoy activities such as pottery painting. The Duchess is also known to have taken up beekeeping, a popular pursuit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall, too.
Inside the household
The Duke and Duchess have tried to keep their household staff “to a minimum”, Hello! says. In March 2016, they placed a discreet advert in The Lady magazine, which gave a “fascinating glimpse” of what life is like at Anmer Hall, “a life with children, dogs and jovial family meals at its core”, says the Daily Telegraph.” The couple were keen to emphasise in the advert that “discretion and loyalty is paramount”.
However, it appears working in the royal household is a tough job. In May 2017, the Daily Mail reported that a housekeeper who earned £35,000 a year to cook, clean and shop for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children in their Norfolk home quit her job after the post became “too demanding”.
Sadie Rice had worked at the couple's country home for two years, but reportedly refused to spend more time at their London home, Kensington Palace.
Following the birth of Princess Charlotte, police in a Norfolk village near Anmer Hall handed out letters warning the media not to harass the royal couple, saying William and Kate had asked photographers to respect their privacy after being subjected to “a number of intrusions” by paparazzi with long lenses.
The three-paragraph letter said that the couple “have a more than reasonable expectation of privacy” while they are at Anmer Hall and on the Sandringham Estate.
It continued: “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.” As Town and Country notes, “A no-fly zone over the property likely does more to thwart the paparazzi, though.”
Pictures courtesy of Richard Humphrey/Wikimedia Commons