Soul soup in deepest Suffolk

Come to Suffolk for Constable skies, wool churches, rolling fields and choccy-box cottages. Butley Priory is close to the coast yet just two hours from London. Explore the one-acre grounds, sleep in a four-poster bed, warm soup for your soul on the Aga. Breathe the rural air, set your spirit free and throw another log on the fire.

Set your spirit free in Suffolk

What do you want from a family cottage holiday? A little bit of wow? Butley Priory popped up on Channel 4’s Extraordinary Escapes. A sense of history? It’s a former gatehouse to an Augustinian monastery. Rural beauty? Butley Priory sits among woodland in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty close to Suffolk’s coast.

Maybe you want moody mystery? Vogue magazine described Butley Priory as ‘one of the most romantic houses in England’. And perhaps you want all this to be accessible? You’re within two hours of London, where clean Constable skies hang over rolling fields, lonely reedbeds, wool churches and choccy-box cottages.

A frequent haunt of songwriters, yogis and artists, Butley Priory is all arched windows, freestanding baths, and a peaceful garden scented with roses and lavender and loved by Henry VIII’s sister. Set your spirit free, while little spirits explore the one-acre grounds, smart TV, and books and games in front of late-night log fires.

Butley Priory sleeps up to 19 in six bedrooms complete with floor-to-ceiling windows, heavy drapes, rich cotton sheets and ancient family portraits. Yet the modern world’s always on call: stream away on superfast broadband, ask Alexa for a tune or two, let the Aga warm both your supper and your soul, then help yourself to a Nespresso.

Gardens and grounds

Lose yourself and your cares in the idyllic one-acre private grounds. They’re kept immaculate to service the exacting demands of the wedding industry and are a source of spiritual beauty for countless yogis, artists and musicians.

Butley Priory comes wrapped in ancient woodland, gnarled oaks and pretty ponds in which the monks once fished. Come in springtime and enjoy the same carpet of bluebells and daffodils once loved by Henry VIII’s sister Mary. Or just fire up the charcoal barbie for summertime steaks and sausages.

Living spacesLiving spacesLiving spacesLiving spaces

Living spaces

Live the grand life in an English idyll dressed to the nines and waiting to wow. Living spaces here are marvellously medieval and monkish, yet peppered with creature comforts and modern conveniences, so you’re always able to stream and surf while topping up your Nespresso.

Binge a box set on the 42” smart TV. Share your holiday pictures on the superfast broadband. Get some music going on Alexa or the Bluetooth speaker. Snaffle a G+T or two in the bar. Raid the library, kick back on the soft sofas and stretch out in sprawling spaces big enough for the grandest of society weddings.

Cooking and dining

No surprises there’s no shortage of space in a house accustomed to catering for grand weddings. The dining table will comfortably fit over 20 with light flooding in through the casement windows. Prepare your meals on the electric induction range cooker and four-oven Aga, or have us do it. We’ll even deal with the dishes.

The house dates back to the 14th century but there’s nothing medieval about the kitchen, with its large fridge/freezer, two large drinks fridges in the laundry area, microwave, toaster and dishwasher. There’s a charcoal barbecue in the garden and table and chairs on the terrace to eat al-fresco, Mary Tudor-style.

Of course, we’d be only too happy to cook for a celebratory meal or a fully catered break. We’ll get our whites on while you crack open a classic white. Eating out? Head to Orford for the Pump Street Bakery and Chocolate Shop, and the famous ‘Pinneys of Orford’ fresh and smoked fish shop.

The Jolly Sailor is good for a pint and beer-garden food, while the Kings Head offers craft beers and seasonal meals. The Butley-Orford Oysterage, now 60 years old, has lots of lovely fish dishes, and for the finest dining there is the Crown & Castle Hotel.


The four bedrooms in the main house are big and bountiful boudoirs with peaceful garden views. Soak up the silence and drift off between crisp cotton sheets to the gentle music of the breeze through the garden boughs.

The Tudor Room offers a four-poster bed with the sun streaming in through the 15-foot arched window. Gaze out at the peaceful garden planted with scented roses and lavender. The en-suite bathroom comes with a shower and separate freestanding bath. For family flexibility, a day bed sleeps two more.

The Mary Rose provides a separate WC and kingsize bed, with homely rugs draped over painted wooden floors. Luxuriate in the freestanding bath and separate WC. Dual-aspect windows face east and south overlooking the garden. A day bed sleeps two more.

The de Glanville is the largest bedroom, with a super-kingsized bed, freestanding bath, basin and day bed. Admire the garden from the window seat. The room shares a WC with the Monks’ Cell, a tiny but characterful single room with its own bathroom and a view over the front grounds.

Just a short stroll across the garden leads you to the Gatekeepers Cottage, sleeping up to an extra six guests in two bedrooms and using the double sofa bed in the lounge. The first en-suite bedroom has a superking bed with the second housing a king size.

Children welcome

Apart from complaining about the journey and a secure wifi connection, kids love nothing on holiday than a rambling old house. Just ask Enid Blyton. At Butley Priory, they get all that in spades, in a massive medieval manor house where armies of monks once united in prayer and meditation.

There are rooms aplenty for hide-and-seek here, plus the chance to continue the game out in the one-acre grounds, with its gnarled oaks amid generous woodland and carpet of bluebells. Pack a picnic and get down to the pond or break out the charcoal barbie for sizzling your sausages in the Suffolk air. Just 5 miles away lies the Suffolk Punch Trust, meet the horses and the farm animals, take a tractor ride around the 250 year old farm, and run wild in the play area.

Indoors is full of modern miracles, including a 42” smart TV to follow your favourite shows, BT superfast broadband to help with the Instagram fame, and music, care of the Bluetooth speakers. What’s the weather doing tomorrow? Ask Alexa.

After tea from the Aga, settle down for Monopoly or Scrabble in front of the roaring fire. Then sleep in day beds in mum and dad’s room or bag the exciting Monks’ Cell, a quirky room to remember with its own bathroom and a view over the front grounds.

What people say

What people say

This is a beautiful house with history dating back centuries. The three main bedrooms are massive, with plenty of light and views of the surrounding grounds. All are decorated tastefully and supplied with very nice toiletries. The kitchen features an AGA and we were very pleased to use one for the first time! And it was lovely to have a good supply of logs to have the fireplace on every night. - Marianthi
We had a magical weekend at Butley in celebration of my 50th birthday. The splendour of the surroundings was incredible. We should love to return. Thanks a million. - Tony

Castles, cocktail bars and UFOs

Seen Netflix’s The Dig? Get down to Sutton Hoo and see it for real. Catch historic castles at Framlingham and Orford. And head into Ipswich for cocktail bars and waterfront taverns. Kids will love the UFO Trail at Rendlesham Forest Centre, the 35 rides and shows at Pleasurewood Hills, and the Meerkat Mob at Africa Alive.