Holiday Venues

Owners of Tudor country estate hire it out for £14000 a week

Hales Hall is for hire this summer after owners Gary and Helen Johnston see weddings cancelled because of coronavirus.Pic: submitted/Archant

Hales Hall is for hire this summer after owners Gary and Helen Johnston see weddings cancelled because of coronavirus.Pic: submitted/Archant


You can live like royalty with nearly 30 friends at a Norfolk mansion for hire after weddings were cancelled because of Covid.

Owners of Hales Hall, Gary and Helen Johnston. Pic: submittedOwners of Hales Hall, Gary and Helen Johnston. Pic: submitted

The owners of the spectacular Hales Hall, near Loddon, are prepared to hire out the entire estate during the summer after weddings were postponed.

A week’s stay will set you back £14,000 to take over the entire estate for 26 people or £10,500 for just the hall, for 14.

You could holiday at the venue before, but not get exclusive use, or use features like the Great Hall. This is the largest brick built barn in the country but usually booked up for weddings in July and August.

MORE: ‘Who’d buy a guesthouse with no guests?’ Owners of famous landmark stay on after sale collapses

Hales Hall. Pic: submittedHales Hall. Pic: submitted

Helen Johnston, who owns the hall with husband Gary, said: “Visitors enjoy the idiosyncrasies and character of this beautiful old Norfolk estate, and the opportunity to make it their exclusive escape. Hales Hall is a stunning location with beautiful walled gardens and acres of meadows.

“Our magnificent Grade 1 listed Tudor hall offers a luxurious retreat. Following lockdown we’ve decided to open for self-catering holidays throughout July and August for the first time.”

The Grade I listed hall in nine acres has three reception rooms and a 40-foot country kitchen with an Aga and has awards for its transformation including boutique style bedrooms, all individually styled with antique furniture and beds with Egyptian-cotton bed linen and marble en suites.

There’s a drawing room with a 65-inch TV, a library and a music room with a baby grand piano. And you can eat in splendour in a dining room that can seat 14 or more.

Hales Hall. Pic: SubmittedHales Hall. Pic: Submitted

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Then there’s the thatched Great Barn which is usually the wedding reception venue and has a first-floor galleried reception room offering further accommodation and stunning views across wild flower meadows.

Hales Hall dates to the 15th century and was once the seat of the Hobart family, including Sir James Hobart, who became attorney general to King Henry VII in 1485.

The property was rescued and transformed by previous owners Terry and Judy Read who earlier this year wrote a book about the mammoth restoration.

Hales Hall. Pic: submittedHales Hall. Pic: submitted

History of Hales Hall

Hales Hall is one of the most historically important houses in Norfolk, hence its Grade I listing.

There has been a house on the site for more than 1,000 years and the Great Barn and hall are the surviving remains of an original house owned by Sir James Hobart, attorney general to Henry VII.

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Hales Hall. Pic: submittedHales Hall. Pic: submitted

The buildings were derelict when they were purchased by previous owners Terence and Judy Read in 1971 and the couple embarked on a major restoration project over many years.

Just before lockdown they published a book Hales Hall: The Restoration and Story detailing the work including plans, architectural drawings and photos.

The current owners bought Hales Hall in 2017.

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BLETHER: Pele at Dens Park, Dickie Boag and the Half-Holiday League Striker who turned down Dundee United

BLETHER: Pele at Dens Park, Dickie Boag and the Half-Holiday League Striker who turned down Dundee United
Brazil legend Pele in Dundee

Pele, as part of his ambassador duties for Fifa during the 1989 U/16 World Cup, visited Dens Park along with Scotland head coach Andy Roxburgh.

The Dundee FC ground was a venue for some of the group games played, and the great Brazilian – for many years undisputed best player in the world – is shown displaying his talents in front of several local youngsters.

Can we name any of them?

Also, did any go on to play in senior football?

A story aired in this column over a decade ago has surfaced again at the hands of Andy Walker.

However, for the benefit of relatively new readers to this page, it is worth another airing.

The Lochee scribe opened: “In season 1948-49, in the Dundee Half- Holiday League, Central Wednesday FC were playing an RAF Leuchars team on Fairmuir Park.”

Before Andy continues, younger readers may not know about the Dundee Half-Holiday League (this league was also mentioned by another Lochee resident Kenneth Brannan in our May 23 issue).

In the ‘olden days’, a high majority of works, shops and companies gave their workers a half day off on Wednesday afternoons.

This led to the formation of said football league, which was very popular until its demise in the early 1960s.

Back to Andy, and he continued: “Central were playing out of their skins, but the RAF side flew into a 3-0 lead.

“In the second half, the Dundee side had an amazing period as they scored three times to draw level at 3-3.

“Then the RAF player, who had been outstanding over everybody, took the game by the scruff of the neck– amazingly notching three goals in seven minutes.

“The player who played opposite the goalscorer was called Russell Powrie, and he informed Dundee United official Ernie Robertson, who arranged to have the player watched when the airforce side took the field for their next match against YM Anchorage.

“YM were the reigning champions of the Midland Amateur FA but they were brushed aside as the big ‘six-footer’ ran amok, destroying all before him.”

Dundee United were suitably impressed, as Andy continued: “The Tannadice side immediately offered him terms to sign for them.

“Then he dropped the bombshell, he could not sign as he was a Sheffield Wednesday player!

“The player was none other than the great Derek Dooley.

“I say great because what he did in a very short career (four years) was fabulous.

BLETHER: Pele at Dens Park, Dickie Boag and the Half-Holiday League Striker who turned down Dundee United

“I believe he also played against Tayport, scoring six times against them.

“Around that time, it is thought that many future stars, who were not from the city, turned out on the pitches in Dundee.”

On May 16, Delia Gallagher appealed for information on an Alex Houston, a Scotsman who played professional football in Wales.

Andy Boyd sent in some details, which suggested he married a Welsh lady called Elsie Jones, who he first met when he went south to play trials for Swansea in 1919.

There are also newspaper cuttings which suggest he was one of three Players signed by the Swans in August that year, the others being T Yule and J Collins.

He may also have played for Southampton, and is reckoned to have lived in the Manchester area in 1948.

Monifieth reader Harry Watson tried to catch me out with an old favourite.

Approaching me in a hostelry, he asked if I knew the name of the golfer who was Open champion for seven consecutive years!

Mind you, Harry’s query stumped the other people in the company.

Calmly settling my sarsaparilla to one side, I responded with Dick Burton.

Englishman Dick won the Open Championship in 1939 and, as the tournament was suspended because of the Second World War, it meant he didn’t defend the trophy until 1946 when Sam Snead won the 75th Open at St Andrews.

Lochee’s Jim Wilson asked which team was most successful in the old Dundee Junior League.

The league ran from 1895-96 until regionalisation in 1969.

Lochee Harp were champions on 20 occasions, which is double that of Dundee Violet on 10.

Carnoustie Panmure picked up seven titles, one more than North End.

Compiling the May 2 issue, which featured an old Carnoustie Juniors photo, one name stuck out.

The surname Boag was attributed to one of the players and I wondered if he could be a family connection to Rob Boag.

Canadian resident Rob often contributes to BwB and, sure enough, 24 hours later, the former Lochee man positively responded.

He opened: “That is a wonderful Carnoustie FC photograph. My Uncle Dickie Boag was in that team, and I’m guessing that photo was taken in 1946-47.

“Sadly, he passed away from cancer in 1948.”

Rob also sent in a photo, and continued: “Dickie is also in the attached Scottish Junior team who played England on April 7, 1933, at Windmill Ground, Leamington.

BLETHER: Pele at Dens Park, Dickie Boag and the Half-Holiday League Striker who turned down Dundee United
Scottish Junior Team from 1933

“Dickie’s in the second row up, third in from the right, and another Dundonian, Jimmy Briggs, is in the same row, second in from the left.

“The score was 2-1 for Scotland, with Dundee lads Boag and Briggs the goalscorers.”

The Scotland team was – Gourley (Dunipace); McDonald (Bonnyrigg Rose), McLure (Parkhead); Corrance (Renfrew), Lyon (Kirkintilloch Rob Roy), McDonald (Tranent); Naughton (Larkhall Thistle), Briggs (Dundee Violet), McKillop (Rosslyn), Duffy (Yoker Athletic), Boag (Lochee Harp).

Football players, managers and staff are always sought for quotes by the media.

I’m continuing to share some of them with you, which are associated with the Scotland international team.

On the night before Scotland visited England in 1928, Scots captain Jimmy McMullen addressed his squad with the words: “Go to your beds and pray for rain!”

The weather duly obliged and, on a slick surface suited to skilled ball-players, the ‘Wembley Wizards’ won 5-1!

BLETHER: Dundee Solicitors v Dundee CID, Doug Sanders and a trophy-laden St Columba BC image

BLETHER: Pele at Dens Park, Dickie Boag and the Half-Holiday League Striker who turned down Dundee United

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