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How the Thomas Cook family set up in a Norfolk stately home 100 years ago

PUBLISHED: 15:59 23 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:26 23 September 2019

Sennowe Hall on the grounds of Sennowe Park, which was commissioned by the grandson of Thomas Cook. Picture: Matthew Usher

Sennowe Hall on the grounds of Sennowe Park, which was commissioned by the grandson of Thomas Cook. Picture: Matthew Usher

© Archant Norfolk 2014

Amid the collapse of the UK's most famous travel firm, one facet of the Thomas Cook legacy is still standing strong in the Norfolk countryside.

Sennowe Park, near Guist, remains home to descendant of Thomas Cook, Charlie Temple-Richards, and his wife Virginia. Picture: Matthew Usher.Sennowe Park, near Guist, remains home to descendant of Thomas Cook, Charlie Temple-Richards, and his wife Virginia. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Sennowe Park, situated close to the quiet village of Guist, near Dereham, was commissioned in the early-1900s by Thomas Albert Cook, grandson of the man responsible for inventing modern holiday travel.

Now, more than a century after being completed, in 1907, the sweeping grounds play host to one of the county's most sublime country houses.

Having been founded back in 1841 to carry supporters of the temperance movement by railway across the Midlands, Thomas Cook had expanded to provide European tours and, by the mid-1860s, even trips to the USA.

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With the firm growing rapidly thanks to growing interest in travel and the 'Cook's Tours' evolution of all-inclusive holidays, 'Bert' Cook decided to leave the family business in the capable hands of his two brothers and move to Nelson's county.

While the primary purpose of Bert's move was to indulge his passion for shooting, driving and sailing, he also enlisted leading architect, George Skipper, to oversee the radical transformation of an existing 18th century house on the Sennowe site.

Despite primarily being known for his stunning Norwich Union building and the city's Royal Arcade, Sennowe Hall arguably goes down as Mr Skipper's finest work when it comes to family homes.

The impressive Edwardian property remains revered for its imaginative design and staggering attention to detail, with its charming garden terraces, barrel vaulted library and art deco-style tiling.

It remains in the Cook family and is occupied today by Bert's great grandson, Charlie Temple-Richards, and his wife Virginia.

The couple do, however, open up the grounds of Sennowe Park to the public for the 'Stately Car Boot Sale', while it also offers a unique wedding venue or a place to stay for a few nights on a bespoke basis.

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