The name Anmer is thought to derive from the Old English meaning 'duck pond'. The place name 'Anmer' is first attested in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it appears as 'Anemere'. 'Anmer' was the name of the horse belonging to King George V which occasioned the death of the suffragette Emily Davison at the 1913 Epsom Derby, after she stepped in front of it during the race.
|"UK Anmer" by Uksignpix|
The late-Georgian house dates from the late 18th century and features two storeys and an attic with dormer windows.
More on the architecture of the house from Wikipedia:
'It has two storeys and attic with dormer windows. The long south front comprises 13 bays, and was refaced with red bricks c. 1815. It has 13 ground-floor windows set in blank arches and a semicircular porch on two Tuscan columns, with 11 windows on the first floor.
The three central bays are topped by a pediment. The north front is of rubble carstone and includes four c. 17th century ogee-headed sashes on the first floor. Renovations c. 1900 added a brick dressed skin to the north front, together with a projecting entrance porch and a tower towards the eastern end, in the corner formed with a carstone service wing also added c. 1900.'
The Sandringham estate was bought by Queen Victoria in 1862 as a wedding present for the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, and neighbouring land was added to the estate in subsequent years with Anmer Hall bought for the estate in 1898. It became the residence of John Loader Maffey who was to become Governor-General of the Sudan and wartime ambassador to Dublin. His daughter Penelope was reportedly a favourite of King George V.
In more recent times, it was leased by the Duke and Duchess of Kent from 1972 to 1990. Sadly it was the scene of much sadness when their fourth child was stillborn in 1977. The Duchess suffered severely with depression in the years that followed and with Her Majesty's blessing mostly withdrew from public life, converted to catholicism and dropped her royal title. Below we see the Kents on the Sandringham estate in 1982.
It was later rented by Prince Charles's dear friend Hugh van Cutsem, and during this time it is understood Charles conducted his affair with Camilla there - regularly meeting her secretly. It was then leased to James Everett, owner of kitchen timber company Norfolk Oak, whose lease was not due to expire until 2017. Rumours began circulating around time of Prince William's 30th birthday alleging his grandmother had gifted him a property on the Sandringham estate.
Anmer Hall began to crop up as the choice for the couple's new home. And in many ways it was not met with surprise; when the van Cutsems resided at the property Prince William and Harry had often enjoyed long days playing there and exploring the grounds. Having spent his Christmases on the Sandringham estate, it held strong ties for the Prince and the privacy it afforded would have appealed enormously to the second-in-line too. The paparazzi are no longer allowed to photograph members of the Royal family relaxing there.
Initially, it was very much thought Anmer would be something of a country bolt hole for the Cambridges allowing them to get away from London life at their newly refurbished apartment at Kensington Palace. Following a transitional year which saw William undertake an agricultural course at Cambridge University, it was announced in August 2014 he had decided to return to flying and signed into a two year minimum contract with the East Anglian Air Ambulance.
The decision came with the news Anmer Hall would be the family's primary home for the foreseeable future, and royal sources said they believe William wishes to remain in the position for "several years". During this time, there would be no increase in duties for either of the Cambridges with the palace confirming: "The Duchess will continue with her small portfolio of work and focus on being a mother."
Extensive renovations were undertaken at Anmer Hall, with £1.5 million spent on upgrading the mansion. Architect Charles Morris designed a new garden room and supervised the rerouting of the driveway to create a larger parking area. It is believed the decor is traditional and classic, but modern twists have been added with the dining room painted a jewel green and a new contemporary child-friendly kitchen installed.
You can see a video of the previous kitchen at Anmer Hall at the manufacturer's NAKED Kitchens YouTube channel.
Before work was completed, sightings of photos of Kate in nearby towns emerged. Obviously eager to settle into her new home and get a feel for the local area, the Duchess spent many a Saturday in the market town of Holt sourcing antiques and softer pastel shade fabrics to decorate the manor.
Much like Anglesey, Anmer has proved to be a perfect fit for the couple who crave a life away from the media spotlight. And once again, much like Anglesey, the locals are incredibly protective and respectful of them. Below we see William and Kate leaving the nearby King's Head Hotel where they enjoyed a romantic dinner with ice cream for dessert.
|Daily Star Sunday|
An onlooker said: "William was extremely affectionate and considerate towards Kate throughout. She walked in with wet hair. She kept playing with it, twisting it around her fingers while talking to him. They were quite flirtatious and couldn't keep their hands off each other. When they had finished their meal, a couple of locals came up to them and said hello. They smiled and were very chatty. My overwhelming feeling was how normal they were."
|The King's Head|
When it came time to celebrate Christmas, the Cambridges who had been alternating between Sandringham with the royals and the Middletons home in Bucklebury for the festivities decided to start a tradition of their own. The couple made the short walk to St Mary Magdalene Church holdings hands, After the service, they returned to Anmer Hall to enjoy an informal day with the Middletons and Prince George. A new tradition I suspect we'll see continue and once again proof the Cambridges are determined to do things their way.
William and Kate adore the outdoors, a love already shared by Prince George who loves nothing more than a trip to Snettisham Park with Kate or an outing to Dersingham Recreation Park with Nanny Maria Teresa. The tot makes full use of the swings and slides. A local resident told People: "All the local boys and girls got to play with Prince George. It's really nice. He was just like any other boy."
|New Idea / The British Monarchy Heir Facebook Page|
Kate has become a regular face in Norfolk and recently she popped into Grapes Gallery in Snettisham to browse and enquire about picture framing services. Owner Rob Kerr told People: "When she left, I just said, I can't believe what I've just done! I didn't call her 'Your Royal Highness or anything like that. She didn't come across as the type of person who would expect people to say anything anyway. She was very down to earth."
The Duchess is a regular visitor to the charming Burnham Market where she regularly visits Pentney House Hat Shop. The local hat shop has supplied pieces to Her Majesty in the past. Director Maxwell Graham-Wood also spoke to People and said: "Kate has been in several times, once with William, once with her mother and a couple of times on her own. She just potters around looking at things, so we just like to leave her alone and not make a fuss."
Mr Graham-Wood recalled the day Kate visited with William: "We have two big rooms upstairs, one with ladies hats and one with men's hats. They both went into each room and were laughing and joking with each other as well as other customers and staff. They are very natural together. When they were upstairs it was like a church downstairs because everyone was pointing to the ceiling going, do you know who's up there?"
It was a real thrill for the shop when they spotted Kate wearing their gloves (pictured below) on an official engagement (with a special thank you to Kate & Pippa Style).
Moving forward, it seems the couple plan to integrate into the community as much as possible. Prince William enjoys camaraderie with the other men who work at the East Anglian Air Ambulance and Kate has plans to join the local Women's Institute. President of the Anmer Club which has fourteen members, former barrister Dorothy Pulsford-Harris had written to Kate before Christmas asking her to join: "I had a very nice letter back from her private secretary saying she was interested. We would be delighted to see her."
Glancing through the Anmer Women's Institute website the upcoming monthly meetings will comprise of a garden meeting, a flower arranging demo, a craft meeting and Commemoration of WW1 anniversary with food and dress from the evening. Below we see Anmer's social club.
The Duchess will be following royal tradition by joining the local WI. The Queen became a member of the Sandringham WI in 1943 and is now the branch's president having taken over the role from the Queen Mother.
At present, the couple are enjoying their first weeks with Princess Charlotte. Big brother Prince George is said to be "fascinated" by his little sister.
Contrary to media reports, no, Carole Middleton has not abandoned ship at Bucklebury Manor, to the detriment of her marriage, to manage Anmer Hall, In fact, Mr and Mrs Middleton have been spotted driving around in their Range Rover and enjoying pub lunches in Bucklebury. Of course, they're paying regular visits to William and Kate and vice versa but William and Kate are "very relaxed, very calm, this time round. They're not first time parents any more", as one royal commentator remarked.
Determined to ensure paparazzi don't follow them to Norfolk, Kensington Palace issued a warning letter to the media reminding them: "Anmer Hall is part of the Sandringham Estate which is a private Estate".
|BBC Peter Hunt|
I spoke with a lady named June who lives close to Anmer and she and her husband have spotted William and Kate in the local area several times. I think June's sentiments finish the post up nicely.
"Norfolk is the best place you could raise a family. Fresh air and friendly people! I've seen Kate at a local bakery in Holt fetching homemade bread and pastries and William is regularly seen out cycling early in the morning. My neighbour saw them out for a local pub lunch and remarked how friendly and down to earth they were. It's great they can live a normal life here, it's great their children can have a childhood like any other child here, enjoying play and fun, what every parent wants for their little ones really."