Blacksmith's Workshop
St Cross South Elmham, Suffolk


Architect: Trevor Horne Architects

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“Light, lofty and fluid spaces celebrate the building's 19th-century origins”

An exemplary marriage of old and new, this former Victorian forge has been transformed into a contemporary two-bedroom house by the architect Trevor Horne. Set in the heart of a peaceful Suffolk hamlet, St Cross South Elmham, the home adopts sophisticated, loft-like living between its industrial bones. Diss Station is a 20-minute drive away and runs trains to London Liverpool Street in 90 minutes.

The Tour

Around four miles from the market towns of Harleston and Bungay, St Cross South Elmham is wrapped in undulating farmland. Approached via quiet country lanes, Blacksmith’s Workshop sits in the heart of the hamlet.

The house references the area’s vernacular while maintaining the character of the original 1850s forge. Its recent architectural remodelling, however, is unabashedly contemporary, prioritising visual connections between the inside and out. As a result, the design combines its lofty, semi-industrial and fluid spaces with the building’s palpable history.

Inside and out, a simple material palette is used. Soft red bricks have been left fair-faced, while the timber roof structure has been painted and exposed. Polished concrete flooring runs underfoot internally, sitting in gentle contrast to birch-faced plywood linings.

The primary entrance to the house is at the western gable end, reached via a small courtyard finished in buff-coloured setts and edged with colourful planting. A bifolding glazed screen opens to reveal the voluminous primary living area. A beautifully light space sits beyond, foregrounding the character and profile of the original building through an unveiled structure. Predominantly open-plan, the space lends itself to flexible arrangements.

An array of roof glazing bathes the kitchen area in natural light and shadows. At the centre is a large, bespoke island by HUSK, with plenty of room for food preparation. Places to eat, entertain, rest and repose lie just beyond. Bounded by glazing, the room is wonderfully bright and is set against the verdant, east-facing landscapes beyond. Doors to an adjacent terrace meld indoors with out.

A long spine wall, running the length of the house, separates these sociable spaces from the sleeping spaces on the house’s northern side. The sophisticated palette continues here, with clean lines, minimalist detailing and soft-hued plastered walls. The two airy bedrooms – one is currently used as an office –  rise with the sloping roofline, and bookend the shower and utility rooms.

Outdoor Space

The living spaces spill onto the entrance courtyard and side terrace, blurring the boundary between inside and out in the warmer months. Climbing plants and curated beds of leafy grasses add colour and fragrance. The outdoor space sits harmoniously in its rural setting and attracts a host of birds, bees and butterflies.

The Area

A tale of two counties, the house borders both Norfolk and Suffolk, in the glorious Waveney Valley within the Suffolk Broads. The largest protected wetland in the UK, these fens, marshes and green woodlands are a haven for Britain’s rarest species, and the area makes perfect terrain for country walks.

St Cross South Elmham is one of the villages around Bungay referred to as ‘The Saints’. Known for its views of the English countryside, it was home to the poet and writer Elizabeth Smart for the last years of her life.

The house lies around four miles from the thriving market towns of Harleston and Bungay. Both have a wonderful selection of cafés and delis, including butchers Palfrey and Hall,Earsham Street Deli and The Front Room in Bungay, which champions local producers such as Fen Farm butter and Hodmedod’s flour in their bakes as well as seasonal veggies & fruit from Clinks Care Farm. Impeccably fresh fish can be found at Earsham Street Fish Company, and fine wine at Giddens and Thompson Wine and the wonderful Flint Vineyard. There is also an array of independent shops selling interesting wares, including Coopers Hardware Store and The Shop.

Woodbridge, a picturesque and thriving market town often described as the ‘gem in Suffolk’s crown’, lies around 25 miles south. It is dotted with independent boutiques and shops.

A little further afield are the ever-popular highlights of the Suffolk coastline and Heaths AONB. The much-loved towns of Aldeburgh and Orford are also easily reached; the latter, a pretty medieval village on the River Alde. Orford attracts visitors for its twice-daily drops of fresh lobster and crabs, its renowned oysterage and smokehouse and the excellent Pump Street Bakery.

Both Southwold (20 minutes by car) and Aldeburgh (a 40-minute drive from the house) offer access to beautiful beaches. Bury St Edmunds and the city of Norwich are also within easy reach.

For transport links to the capital, Diss Station is a 20-minute drive from the house and runs a direct train to London Liverpool Street in around one hour and 30 minutes.

Council Tax Band: C

Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.

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