Stay in a shepherd's hut in an incredible lost Norfolk village

Godwick shepherd's hut

Godwick shepherd's hut - Credit: Godwick Hall

A cosy shepherd's hut retreat is the perfect way to discover hidden Norfolk 

Sheep graze the ancient landscape. A medieval village lies beneath the quiet meadows, watched over by the lonely ruins of a church tower.  

We arrive as the sun is setting and it seems especially fitting that our accommodation for the night at this idyllic place will be a shepherd’s hut. 

Godwick is one of the best examples of a deserted medieval village in Britain but the picturesque countryside, once part of the Holkham estate, is stirring again. 

Godwick

Godwick - Credit: Jacob Malanski

Godwick church tower

Godwick church tower - Credit: Pat Payne

Our shepherd’s hut is romantically placed facing the setting sun, sheltered beneath a stand of trees, close to nature but rich with luxuries including a wood burner, ensuite shower-room, super-comfy double bed and mini kitchen complete with butler sink, fridge and microwave. 

Outside there is a table and chairs, fire-pit, barbecue, hooks for the hammock – and soon a canopy of thousands upon thousands of stars. 

We are just 35 miles from Norwich but a world away from the city. The Garner family have farmed here for more than 60 years and are now sharing a little of their lovely landscape with visitors searching for a tranquil rural retreat. 

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Deep in the countryside a few miles from Fakenham they have three cute shepherd’s huts, plus luxury accommodation in a cottage and country house, and host weddings in historic Godwick Barn. 

In the gathering dusk we sip a glass of wine and listen to the breeze in the trees, sheep cropping the grass, an owl. We cook in the mini-kitchen, sit t by the warming wood-burner, sleep deeply and open the shutters in the morning to glorious sunshine and countryside. 

Godwick shepherd's hut 

Godwick shepherd's hut - Credit: Godwick Hall

Godwick shepherd's hut

Godwick shepherd's hut - Credit: Godwick Hall

The Godwick breakfast hamper is a thing of beauty – granola, yoghurt, bread, preserves, fruit juice and coffee. Outside the sheep graze and paths lead into a peaceful landscape of meadow and woodland, through the medieval village of Godwick and across farmland to the still-thriving pretty villages of Whissonsett and Tittleshall. 

Information boards tell the story of Godwick, which was almost completely abandoned in the 16th century. The original Godwick Hall was surrounded with parkland and formal gardens. Sir Edward Coke, attorney general to Queen Elizabeth I and forefather of the Coke dynasty of Holkham Hall, bought the land in the 1590s and built grand Godwick Barn across the village’s main street. He turned the crumbling church into a folly – one of England's earliest examples of using ruins as a picturesque landscape feature.  

But, unlike many of Norfolk’s long-gone villages, the meadow was not ploughed and its grassy skeleton of streets and homes remains as dips and mounds, punctuated by ponds.  


Eventually the old hall burned to the ground and more of the church tower collapsed but Godwick remains, part of a constellation of Norfolk ghost villages from Alagarsthorpe to Golosa and Jerpestun to Letha, whose names sound like the poetry of a forgotten language. 

But Godwick is remembered, and a stay in a shepherd’s hut was a wonderful way to experience its peaceful, history-laden landscape. The Garner family coined the word “schlamping” for their rural retreats combining shepherd’s huts and glamping, the rustic and the luxurious. Visitors can order a bottle of fizz, a star-gazing package and guided tours of the village. There are walks and cycle rides from the door of your shepherd’s hut, award-winning pubs and restaurants nearby, and the coast and city within striking distance. 

The cosy shepherd’s huts start at £90 a night for a couple, with a minimum two-night stay. The Old Stables sleeps six in scandi-style luxury while Georgian Godwick Hall sleeps up to 14 and boasts a grand drawing room and heated swimming pool.  

The lost village of Godwick is open dawn to dusk daily for free except Wednesdays and Saturday afternoons. 

godwickhall.co.uk 

lostvillageofgodwick.co.uk