Monday, 18 May 2015

Kate Loves: Life at Anmer Hall

The picturesque village of Anmer in West Norfolk is situated on the royal estate at Sandringham. Despite its tiny population - said to be less than sixty people - it has become synonymous with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge since Her Majesty gifted Anmer Hall to the couple.

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?"

Burnham Market

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."

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Kate Supports Children's Hospice Week: "Every Moment is Precious"; Charlotte's Bonnet & More!

Hello hello,

Can you believe it's been over a week since the arrival of Princess Charlotte? :)

It was amazingly fun to cover with all of you and incredibly memorable. For those asking, we expect to see a family photo of William, Kate, George, Charlotte - and quite possibly Lupo - in a few weeks time! It will most likely be an informal family snap, similar to the photos taken by Mike Middleton in Bucklebury shortly after Prince George was born.

TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Now, we have several topics to cover. First, in her role as patron of East Anglia's Children's Hospices the Duchess of Cambridge has shown her support for Children's Hospice Week with a letter of support.

East Anglia's Children's Hospices

Kate praised the work of the hospices and said: "Every moment is precious and every memory needs to be cherished and celebrated". This year, Children's Hospice Week takes place between 11-17 May. It is the UK's only awareness raising and fundraising week for children's hospices week. There are 49,000 children in the UK living with life-limiting conditions.

Together for Short Lives

Supporting children's hospice week has become something Kate contributes to in one form or another annually and it's an area in which she's said to be eager to work further later this year. Last year the Duchess paid a private visit to EACH.


In 2013, Kate recorded her first video message to mark the week. The message was recorded at Clarence House when Kate was expecting Prince George. Kate eloquently spoke about the vital work carried out by EACH and other hospices.

The full text from the message:

'I have been fortunate to see first hand the remarkable work that they do for children and young people with life-limiting conditions, and their families. It is simply transformational.
 Children's Hospice Week is a time to recognise, celebrate and support the inspirational work of these hospices, and those who provide palliative care to these children and families.
 Children's hospices provide lifelines to families at a time of unimaginable pain. The support they give is vital.
  In order to carry out this wonderful work, our help is needed. With our support, those providing children's palliative care can continue to offer these extraordinary service. It does not bear thinking about what these families would do without this. With your support, we can help ensure that these children and their families can make the most of the precious time they have together.'

As time progresses, I feel working with young people and specifically supporting children's hospices will become something very much associated with Kate, similar to Diana's work with AIDS victims and Prince Harry's support of military charities. I know many of you donate to charitable endeavours and if you feel so inclined again, I would urge everyone to consider donating to Together for Short Lives, East Anglia's Children's Hospices or your local service.

Together for Short Lives

Another way to support Children's Hospice Week? Spread the word! This year's theme is 'Making Every Moment Count' - focusing on how precious time is for families by capturing moments in time. People are encouraged to share their unforgettable moments by using the hash tag #momentscount You can also use this badge as your Twitter/Facebook photo to spread awareness.

It would be a lovely way of celebrating Princess Charlotte's arrival. :)


Speaking of the little princess, as I'm sure you've all seen, there's been quite a bit of coverage regarding Charlotte's "backward bonnet".

It turns out the cream woollen bonnet worn by the princess as she was introduced to the world was a gift from the mother of  Nanny Maria Teresa Borrallo. Maria Teresa's mother sourced the present from Spanish boutique Irulea in San Sebastian, Northern Spain.

Irulea Shop Window

More from the Telegraph:

'Susana Villar, 57, who runs the boutique - founded by her grandmother 82 years ago - with her sister Ayago, said: "We had no idea the clothes were for Princess Charlotte. It was a complete surprise and we're obviously delighted.
 "Some clients of ours phoned us to tell us they'd just seen the new royal leaving hospital wearing one of our bonnets.
"It was bought as part of a matching outfit that included a little coat and shoes. The woman who bought them...was very discreet and never gave anything away.
"All she said was that she had a daughter who was in London."'

Irulea confirmed the bonnet was worn back to front :)

Splash News / Irulea

A look at the pieces sent to Charlotte from Maria Teresa's mother.


Maria Teresa has become an enormously important part of Team Cambridge and has played a vital role in caring for Prince George, and will with Princess Charlotte, too. I thought it a lovely gesture for Kate to choose the gift for her daughter's debut. Judging by the media coverage, I expect the Spanish boutique is going to be very busy.


Our next topic concerns Prince Harry. We don't usually tend to cover topics relating to the prince but due to his latest interview in New Zealand, we thought it too good not to share. Speaking exclusively to Sky News's Rhiannon Mills, Harry gave an interview filled with honesty, frankness and adorable quotes about the royal baby. You can view it in full at Sky's website.


On meeting Princess Charlotte, Harry spoke about seeing photos, her late arrival and excitement on meeting his niece:

'He sent me two photos; one before everybody else, which was nice, and then another - one with her back with George back home. So, as I said, I'm so looking forward to seeing her, to meeting her and to holding her. She was a little bit late, hence I missed her. So she'll have to work on that!  But apart from that, it's fantastic news for both of them. So I'm thrilled.'

Interestingly, Harry revealed he and William feel a strong desire to earn a wage away from their royal roles:

'This part of the role is fantastic but William and I - both of us - feel as though we need to have a wage as well; to work with normal people, to keep us sane, to keep us ticking along. In the future, from our point of view, if we want to make a big contribution, or a valid contribution and be taken seriously, then we need to work alongside other people.'

On a more personal note, the prince spoke about his desire to have kids and meet the right person (OK, ladies, I repeat, "meet the right person", I know Harry has a few female fans here :))

'There come times when you think now is the time to settle down, or now is not, whatever way it is, but I don't think you can force these things it will happen when it's going to happen. Of course, I would love to have kids right now, but there's a process that one has to go through and... tours like this are great fun. Hopefully I'm doing all right by myself. It would be great to have someone else next to me to share the pressure. But, you know, time will come and whatever happens, happens.'

I thoroughly enjoyed the interview and unsurprisingly it has been received enormously well. Interviews such as this one show us a glimpse of the real Harry, his personality and off-the-cuff remarks. Harry interacts incredibly well with people, and I've found, despite his and William's feelings towards the press, this translates very well in interviews.

It would be wonderful to see William and Kate undertake a similar interview in the near future. In an informal, relaxed setting it would be splendid to see them talking candidly as Harry did. It was so refreshing and Harry is the embodiment of a modern royal. From motherhood to William's new role with the East Anglian Air Ambulance there are a range of topics we'd love to hear them speak on. With the royals, there's so much false speculation and inaccuracy, hearing them speak first hand is really invaluable.

I hear talk of a tour for the Cambridges in spring 2016; would you like to see them give a similar interview to Harry's? Personally, I doubt it's a likely possibility but one I would love to see come to fruition someday.


 Next, fashion updates. Do you all remember the Hobbs Wessex Dress Kate sported a couple of times, most recently in Australia last year?

The pretty tea dress has now been re-released in cornflower blue (perfect for the summer season). It is described as a "flax, linen dress featuring a cool windowpane check in cornflower-blue, with a relaxed fit-and-flare shape". It's available for £129 at HobbsHouse of Fraser and John Lewis.


Kate's ASOS polka dot maternity dress has also been re-released and renamed the 'Kate'. Featuring the same wrap-style, skater-dress silhouette the actual dots on the dress are now positioned differently. Below we Kate's dress, alongside the new piece.


Kate's popular Stuart Weitzman Minx Wedges are now available at Nordstrom with free shipping. The lanyard braid wedge sandals feature an adjustable strap and buckle closure.


We very well may see Kate sporting them at one of William's polo matches this summer if she attends. :)

And Kate's much loved Aquatalia 'Rhumba' boots remain on sale at Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.


We'll be continuing on with our 'Kate Loves' series next. A big thank you for all your suggestions lately!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The Cambridges Travel to Anmer Hall

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge left Kensington Palace with Prince George and four-day-old Princess Charlotte today.

Mail Online

It is understood the couple are headed for their country retreat Anmer Hall, where they are expected to spend the summer, with Kate focusing on motherhood and William concentrating on his role as an air ambulance pilot.

More from the Mail Online's story:

'The couple are expected to issue a family photograph with their daughter and 21-month-old Prince George in the coming weeks, but are otherwise expected to remain away from the world's media over the coming weeks.'

The family will be joined at Anmer by Nanny Maria Teresa Borrallo, and the Middletons are said to be planning a stay, too. The Cambridges were expected to leave their London home sooner but decided to wait a few days to give Her Majesty a chance to meet Charlotte, while grandfather, Charles, visited twice.

Below we see the Cambridges leaving Kensington Palace shortly after Prince George was born. The family headed to Bucklebury for several weeks at the time.


There is a very brief video at the Telegraph.

The Telegraph

The Duchess looked relaxed in a white/cream coat. Ashley believes it is the JoJo Maman Bebe piece she wore for her visit to the set of Downton Abbey.

The appropriately named 'Princess' wool coat is described as "a great investment piece for your maternity wardrobe". The wool-mix fabric gives it a luxurious, cosy feel. The collarless garment features front slant slip pockets, tonal top-stitching and panel seaming.

JoJo Maman Bebe

Kate accessorised with the very pretty Beulah London 'Brisa' scarf. The blue lip print cashmere shawl is described as "a playful print that will liven up any wardrobe. Use to energise a classic tee or create a stylish clash". It retails for £195.

Beulah London

The Duchess wore her hair in a ponytail and completed the look with pearl earrings.


If you're just joining us check out yesterday's post for a look at Princess Charlotte's birth certificate, visitors and a 15% off Claudia Bradby discount code - HRHKATE.

Claudia Bradby

With the Cambridges in Anmer, that concludes Royal Baby Watch. Relive the best moments with this adorable video 'Isn't She Lovely'

It's been fun! :)