St Marys

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52° 49' 25.5417", 1° 32' 1.2414"

Known locally as St Marys, Happisburgh Manor is a Grade II* Listed Building. Well known in architectural circles as a seminal example of Art & Crafts house design it was built for the Norfolk family of Cator in 1900 by Detmar Jellings Blow to a design by Ernest Gimson who also did work in several Norfolk churches. The House features in many architecural books and was illustrated in the accompanying publication for the 2005 V&A International Arts & Crafts exhibition. It has three floors and the main construction is of reinforced concrete (an innovation at the time), each upper floor being laid with reinforced concrete over timber supports, thus ensuring that should the thatch roof catch fire it would not spread to other floors. The house was built of local materials using beach shingle and washed beach sand for the concrete with embedded 'split' field flints along with locally fired bricks. The lintels were made of hanging tiles laid flat. The Norfolk reed thatch roof is the largest domestic thatch roof in Norfolk and maybe the largest in the country. Happisburgh Manor is the first fully worked example of a four winged butterfly or X plan house with a central core and four wings projecting diagonally thus allowing the rooms within to have maximum sunlight as well as shelter from prevailing winds. Situated on each of the four gable ends are the words AVE MARIA STELLA MARIS (Hail Mary Star of the Sea) which is perhaps why the house became known locally as St Marys. The gardens are a fine example of an Arts & Crafts 'compartmented' garden and listed as such in the English Heritage Parks & Gardens National Register. The deeds for the house show that the late Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s brother, Michael Bowes-Lyon owned it for a while. He married Elizabeth Margaret Cator in February 1928.