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Elberta Barn | Luxury Country Home | Wakes Colne, Colchester

Elberta Barn

Wakes Colne, Colchester, Essex, UK

Travel west of Dedham Vale — the prized postcode in the heart of Constable Country — and you’ll arrive at a seven-million-brick railway viaduct crossing the River Colne. Take the parallel lane north to find Elberta Barn, the luxury country home of a gallery and museum curator turned landscape designer, who transformed what was a “glorious storeroom for bicycles and rowboats” into a lived-in art exhibition in a green pocket by the Suffolk border.

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Introduction

Named after the variety of fruit tree that grows large, juicy peaches, Elberta Barn brings a sweet warmth to the county’s brunswick-and-bread-basket plains. All around are the meadows, woodlands, and streams that inspired some of the most celebrated English landscape painters — from Thomas Gainsborough to John Constable — and the barn's flung-open doors frame this artists' scene. When its owner first saw the place, sitting snugly between the Colne and Stour Valleys, her longings for a country cottage were reduced to dust. The space was all volume and agricultural proportions. One call to a well-known architect she fortuitously sat beside at a dinner party months earlier, and their “non-conversion” began.

Inside

Most barns install mezzanines that hide their height. Most barns put plasterboard between the studs and rafters. Most barns lose the essence of their pastoral roots. But this is not most barns; Elberta Barn goes to great lengths to uplift its origin story. Nothing is built against the oak and elm frames, and modern furniture pulls its weight to mark the distinction between what’s old and what’s new. What’s there for garnish is found, foraged, or a family memento. A green glass fishing buoy picked from the beach while staying with an author in Sandaig. A palm painting by a Guatemalan artist, who the owner exhibited in 1994. An ink drawing gifted by Sigmund Pollitzer in the 50s in Cypress. A treasure trove, of simple sorts.

Outside

Expect purposeful grounds that blend in, a square pond that mirrors the East Anglian sky, and a perennial meadow that complement the cereal crops in the flank fields. A courtyard garden, too — a hortus conclusus to those in the know — with wall-trained apple, apricot, and greengage trees. It's all a bit idyllic in these parts. In any direction, there's butter biscuit villages where whole mornings go to disappear. From Flatford with its watermill on the Stour to Lavenham with its pink and ochre timber-framed homes; Wivenhoe with its artistic riverside community to East Bergholt with its canopy-roofed punts. It’s no wonder the Essex-Suffolk border was a playground for Romantics and Impressionists.

The Facts

  • SleepsUp to 6 guests
    From £2,250 per week, £1,695 per short break
  • Alternative group optionUp to 4 guests
  • Bedrooms and bathroomsThere are three en suite bedrooms, all on the ground floor, one of which is across the front courtyard in the annexe.
    View bedrooms
  • PetsSorry, no pets
  • Arrivals and departuresArrival Time: 4pmDeparture Time: 10am
  • FamilyBabes-in-arms and children over the age of seven are very welcome. One cot and one highchair are available.
  • PracticalitiesThere is parking for four cars. The kitchen has a combi oven, induction hob, under-counter fridge, microwave, and dishwasher. The utility room is across the courtyard from the main barn and contains a fridge-freezer, washing machine, and tumble dryer. There is underfloor heating in all living spaces. Due to the nature of the building, there are some low doorframes. Please note care should be taken with the "samba steps" that lead to the office, and there are no railings around the pond, so please exercise due diligence if you are travelling with children.
  • Homestay includesA luxury welcome hamper, iPad, Wi-Fi internet, a 28” Smart TV with Netflix and Amazon Prime, Dali Bluetooth speaker, Weber charcoal barbecue, books and board games, luxury bed linens and towels, and coal and logs to get you started.House book - your property and destination guideDiscover more
  • Private cateringSeeking a celebratory dinner or fully catered escape? Our recommended caterers will work with you to create personalised menus for your stay. Details are shared through our house book on confirming your booking.
  • RetreatsFrom foraging weekenders to crash courses in cold-water therapy, our bespoke retreats bridge the gap between luxury and back-to-nature philosophies. Create a hand-crafted stay that puts connectivity at the fore.
  • RestrictionsSorry, no parties
  • Other informationProperty terms and conditionsFrequently asked questions

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The décor is mostly found, foraged, or family mementos
It is a home of discreet contrasts between what´s old and what´s new
The original fabric of the building was left intact with only two new openings

Prices & Availability

Wakes Colne

It´s all rail nostalgia and artistic legacy in this quiet corner of the Colne Valley. But nearby Colchester (perhaps the county´s most historic town) bursts with Norman keeps, Roman ruins, artisan markets, and rows of boutiques.

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Wakes Colne
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Getting there

  • On the Map This luxury country home is just outside of Wakes Colne near Colchester in Essex, ideally located for visiting Dedham and the rest of Constable Country.
  • By Car Elberta Barn is 15 minutes from Colchester, one hour from Cambridge, one-and-a-half hours from London, and two hours from Norwich by car.
  • By Train Chappel and Wakes Colne Station is five minutes by car. During the week, there are regular trains from London Liverpool Street via Marks Tey with a journey time of just over one hour on Greater Anglia Railways. On weekends, a bus may be required.
  • By Air Stansted Airport is 40 minutes away, while Gatwick Airport, Luton Airport, and Norwich Airport are each less than two hours away by car. If you wish to arrive by helicopter, please enquire for details.

 

From the owner

“Our Grade II-listed threshing barn has a long pastoral history. Built in the 1780s as a field barn, it eventually joined the estate of the Rector of a Norman church in Mount Bures, and today is a much-loved country home and city retreat.”

From the owner

I bought Elberta Barn in 2018. Until then, it had been untouched, other than repairs carried out in the 80s. In converting it into a home, my intention was to retain the agricultural feel.

The frame is made of oak and elm, with beams dating to the 16th century, and the original roof was thatched, hence its steep pitch. Welsh slate replaced it in 1865.

As a landscape designer I was responsible for the gardens, which are purposefully restrained. Across them are several places to sit in the rural idyll; it’s hard to believe it’s an hour from London.

I worked with Lynch Architects, a London practice, who introduced three free-standing black objects into the main living space; a study platform, a kitchen, and a wood-burning stove. These echo the three buildings that make up the site: the main barn, the stable (now the annexe room), and the piggery (now the garden room).

The fabric of the building was left intact with only two new openings through the walls. As Patrick Lynch commented to Building Design, “We like to call it a barn non-conversion. The idea was that the best way to inhabit the space would be to make it feel as little like a conventional house as possible."

Joanne

Owner recommendations

Live like a local, discovering the best hidden gem restaurants, walks and attractions during your holiday in Wakes Colne with an insider’s perspective.

Stroll the Tudor streets, Lavenham

To See

Stroll the Tudor streets, Lavenham

This picturesque village is renowned for its well-preserved architecture and historic timber-framed buildings. A prosperous wool town in the 15th and 16th centuries, it is now celebrated for its charming streets and rich history.

Beth Chatto Gardens and Nursery, Elmstead

To See

Beth Chatto Gardens and Nursery, Elmstead

Known for its sustainable approach to gardening, and founded by the late, influential green thumb and author Beth Chatto, the gardens showcase her philosophy of "right plant, right place." There´s plant sales, a book shop, and a tearoom.

In the footsteps of artists

To Do

In the footsteps of artists

From the Colne Valley Path, a long-distance trail that stretches from Great Yeldham to Colchester, to short loops like Chalkney Wood, a circular walk through an ancient woodland, there are many walks that inspired artists on the doorstep.

The Henny Swan, Sudbury

To Eat

The Henny Swan, Sudbury

With an evolving seasonal menu, The Henny Swan is a gem of a country pub set away from the bustle of Sudbury, with great beer and "legendary" fish and chips. During the summer, rowing boats, canoes, and paddle boards can be hired.

Unique extras

From private chefs to luxury at-home spa therapists and adrenalin-fuelled retreats, once you’ve booked your stay we’ll introduce you to our owner-recommended suppliers to create a truly bespoke, memorable escape.

Press

Below are a selection of features in which Unique Homestays has appeared. If you would like to feature the property in an editorial capacity, please contact the marketing team on +44 (0)1637 882014.

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Disclaimer: These particulars, whilst believed to be accurate, are set as a guideline so should not be relied upon as a statement of fact. The photographs show aspects of the property at the time they were taken and it should not be assumed that the property remains precisely as displayed. If there are points of particular importance that need clarifying before you book, please contact us.

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