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A look inside Pentney Abbey, near Swaffham - for sale for £1.95 million

PUBLISHED: 08:00 14 February 2016

Pentney Abbey.

Pentney Abbey.

© Haakon Dewing

It's the perfect venue for Valentine's - a medieval gatehouse with a licence as a wedding venue. Property editor Caroline Culot reports on Pentney Abbey, near Swaffham, which is now for sale for £1.95 million with Chewton Rose jointly with Sowerbys.

I visited Pentney Abbey back in 2009 when it was for sale needing extensive improvement work. The Grade I gatehouse came with a Grade II cottage and banqueting hall and was an impressive property even back then but it was bought by a former airline pilot Howard Barber in 2010 and his partner Dita Lee and they began the mammoth task of restoring it.

As the EDP reported at the time, it was one of English Heritage’s most ambitious restoration projects in the East of England and partly funded by a £200,000 grant.

The three-storey, 14th century gatehouse is the only surviving monastic building from the once powerful priory, which would once have included several monastic buildings including a grand church.

Pentney Priory was founded around 1130 by Robert De Vaux, and was one of the wealthier monastic communities in Norfolk. The gatehouse would have provided luxury accommodation for high-status visitors and their entourages as well as security for the monastery but it had been on the ‘at risk’ register, in danger of collapse, with falling masonry and leaking walls.

After the restoration work was completed, the property opened its doors to couples wishing to use it as a wedding venue - offering the idyllic countryside location, gatehouse setting for the actual ceremony and accommodation too.

The property is now for sale and includes the gatehouse and country home, the banqueting hall with adjoining rooms, two cottage conversions and the bridal suite in grounds of 35 acres with river frontage and fishing, all approached by a sweeping drive and fully upgraded and restored.

Howard Barber, owner, said: “We breathed new life into the property, we made its dark corners light and welcoming.”

He said no wedding bookings had been taken for next year because of the sale and all weddings booked for 2016 would go ahead as planned - this was a condition even if a buyer is found before the year is out. One wedding includes his own son’s in September.

• Contact Chewton Rose on 01603 622017 or joint agents Sowerbys on 01553 766 741.

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