SUFFOLK: Wissett

Henry on an old tractor lr

Henry Saunders pretends to drive an old tractor 

By Tim Saunders

My family and I now have something in common with The Bloomsbury Group… but it’s not our astounding intellects…

Like one of its most famous members, the writer Virginia Woolf, we too have stayed at Wissett Farm in the village of Wissett near Halesworth, Suffolk.

The 300-acre mainly arable farm has been owned by the Kiddy family since 1954. There is no doubt that farming is a tough business and as Brexit looms and European Union subsidies evaporate diversification is increasingly vital to prosper. Back in 2003 the wise decision was taken to invest a substantial amount into converting some of the barns into four holiday cottages and adding tourism as another useful revenue stream.

The result is good quality self-catering accommodation that appeals to a broad market from those with young families like us through to the older generation. On arrival our children quickly discover that there’s a toy cupboard and they thoroughly enjoy visiting it to select toys and games.

We stay in Golden Miller, named after the famous racehorse (1927 to 1957); the most successful Cheltenham Gold Cup horse ever. This renowned thoroughbred actually stayed in this very barn. The conversion has been tastefully carried out and while the stable door hints at the building’s past, it is far more luxurious these days. There’s a kitchen diner and sitting room together with two good sized bedrooms both with en-suites - the master bedroom having both a bath and a shower. I do like the exposed wood beams throughout. Little Henry’s travel cot fits in the girl’s bedroom. We ask a lot of our young children but the more they travel the easier they find it to adapt and this is definitely the case here. From the outset the girls sleep very well and even Henry, who often wakes up through the night due to teething, only wakes up once in the small hours, which is an improvement. It’s so quiet here and the beds are very comfortable that we all do sleep well; if only Heidi (4) didn’t wake us up at 6am each morning we could have slept incredibly well.

Owner Geoffrey Kiddy tells us about the farm: “There are 60 acres of oil seed rape and we also have a flock of Norfolk Horn sheep. There are approximately 45 ewes and three rams from which we breed lambs.”

It’s a large amount of land to look after and it’s really refreshing to see old tractors doing this gruelling work which includes ploughing the fields. The tractor we all love most is a David Brown that has to be at least 50 years old. Its beige paintwork is in excellent condition and the children take it in turns to sit on it. Of course David Brown is synonymous with Aston Martin cars; renowned for high quality engineering so it will go on for many more years. We also see a 30-year old Massey Ferguson, again in good condition and a trusted workhorse.

During our walk around the farm the children enjoy seeing the grain that has been collected and stored. Then they spy hay bales and as they stroll on further they even see a roe deer, which we capture on video. It’s a twitcher’s paradise too and little Henry loves his wildlife. He has started saying: “Shush” when he spies a bird overhead and he does plenty of this during our walk. We see birds of prey and then Harriett spots a large beetle on the ground.

As a nation we should all get out more and a stay at Wissett really does help you get that bit closer to nature. 

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