New era begins after £2 million refurbishment at The Ffolkes in Hillington

The Ffolkes at Hillington, Feature on The Major Refurbishment Project.
Sarah Tribe
The Ffolkes at Hillington, Feature on The Major Refurbishment Project. Sarah Tribe

Following a massive four-month £2 million refurbishment project, the wraps are off The Ffolkes at Hillington to reveal a stunning new look.

It’s the beginning of a new era for the Grade II listed 18th century former coaching inn which has served travellers heading from the Midlands to Norwich for hundreds of years.

The Ffolkes at Hillington, Feature on The Major Refurbishment Project.
Iain Wilson

The Ffolkes at Hillington, Feature on The Major Refurbishment Project. Iain Wilson

Bought in June, the business is now owned by Iain and Clair Wilson who started out at Byfords in Holt in 2000 and over the years have been part of a team creating a number of other individual businesses, including The King’s Head and Back to your place in Holt, The Pigs at Edgefield, The Dial House at Reepham, Wilson Development and a half share of The Assembly House in Norwich and Sponge in Holt.

Iain said: “We are delighted to invest in what we feel will be a landmark destination for people living in West Norfolk and those travelling on the busy A148. For years we have admired the building and its location, which is a gateway to North Norfolk, and it’s great to now carry out our vision.”

The Ffolkes will be led by Adam Chapman as the chef/landlord, who has spent the last nine years at The King’s Head in Holt and has been at The Ffolkes since it was bought last year from a couple who had owned it for 35 years. Operations manager is Marc Ward.

The Ffolkes is officially due to open tomorrow although during the last week guests have been able to trial the exciting new West Norfolk venue.

The Ffolkes at Hillington, Feature on The Major Refurbishment Project.
Staff members in front of the Stables, LtoR, Teresa Symonds, Tia Hughes, Louise Tilson, Rosemary Thompson.

The Ffolkes at Hillington, Feature on The Major Refurbishment Project. Staff members in front of the Stables, LtoR, Teresa Symonds, Tia Hughes, Louise Tilson, Rosemary Thompson.

Attention to detail has been meticulous to create reminders of the coaching inn’s Georgian roots and visitors can expect to be blown away by its transformation. Its history has been embraced and influenced the choice of furniture, fittings, artwork and decor. Wooden panelling lines the rooms and materials used include leather, soft velvets, rustic wood, pewter and copper. Reconditioned chandeliers are also sparkling features from a bygone era, while on the walls there are prints illustrating the bygone days of stagecoaches and horses among other historical scenes and portraits.

The theme has been brought together by Sarah Tribe, who designs and sources materials for interiors across all of the business’s Norfolk venues. She said she gets most of the items locally by visiting antique fairs and shops.

The Ffolkes now includes a restaurant with 120 covers serving food from 7am to 9pm, seven days a week, a traditional bar area with a wide selection of ales, lagers, spirits and wines, a coffee lounge serving speciality teas, coffees and homemade cakes, a large games room with TV, pool table and table football, a feature garden with heated and covered al fresco dining area, and upstairs in the main coaching inn there are six new stylish bedrooms with luxury bathrooms, top quality linen, character furniture and in-room entertainment.

These bedrooms also have themes, such as the “travel” room, complete with globes, a large framed old map and antique suitcases. Another, the “post” room with framed collections of stamps, is a nod to the inn’s history which once included the village post office.

By July a further 18 bedrooms are due to be completed and bed and breakfast rates will start at £80 per night with the larger rooms going up to £140 on a weekend.

The garden room overlooks a fabulous outdoor children’s play area, featuring a 17 foot tall three-storey giant egg set in the middle of a site designed with adventures in mind. Exploring youngsters will be able to “fly” on a zip wire and journey along boardwalks in the playground constructed by specialists Flights of Fantasy, based in Dersingham.

The former country club at the rear of the main coaching inn, is now Stables, a high specification function room and event space with capacity for 120 seated guests and 220 evening visitors. It is equipped with a bar and kitchen facilities and opens out onto a landscaped garden.

Guests who register for the business’s Norfolk Passport scheme will be able to enjoy exclusive deals at all the venues it owns.

The coaching inn was built by Sir Martin Browne Ffolkes, the first Baronet of Hillington (1749–1821), who was High Sherriff of Norfolk and the sitting MP for Lynn. Sir Martin used to hold court in the main building and in the cellars there remains of the cells that would have held prisoners.