The Grove in Cromer, owned by three generations of the Graveling family for the past 81 years, have been flying the flag for Norfolk once again by becoming the winner of AA’s Bed and Breakfast with a Story for 2017-18.
Richard, Chris and Liz Graveling picked up the award at a gala lunch hosted by the five-star Landmark Hotel in London on Monday.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to win such a prestigious honour”, said Richard. “The standard of entries was apparently very high so to come out on top is a real compliment.”
The Grove has 16 bedrooms and six self-catering cottages, an indoor pool and three acres of gardens, with, most recently, the addition of the restaurant, which has been awarded two AA Rosettes for the past four years.
The award was for Bed and Breakfast with a Story, and the Grove certainly has an interesting background. Robert and Hilda Graveling were from farming stock and always fancied running a small holding of their own. In 1936, they sold their shop and house, and moved into The Grove, which had been largely built by the Gurney family, founders of Barclays Bank.
Chris takes up the story: “According to Grandad, old Mr Barclay begged him to take it off his hands. The Grove had about eight acres at the time, and Grandad kept pigs, cows, goats and chickens, as well as farming the top field for arable crops. But the house was expensive to run, so they decided to let some of the spare rooms; apart from a couple of years for the war, when it was used as an army store, it hasn’t closed its doors, since.”
John and Ann took over in 1978 and their five children, Richard, Chris, Liz, Hannah and Ruth, formed a partnership in 2010.
“It’s strange to think back that despite us all having our own careers, we were all informally trained in hospitality from a very early age, we all worked at The Grove as teenagers, either in the kitchen, housekeeping or waiting,” Chris continues. “And as soon as we were old enough to answer the phone, we were taking bookings. It’s a very natural thing for us.”
“The house is still steeped in the local community. For example, we sponsor Cromer Cricket Club, who various family members have played for since the club began; and our crabs and lobsters come from the local fishermen, who have been fishing out of Cromer for generations. I recently heard a story about Grandad and the uncle of our crab fishermen going out on a boat and how they shared the fish out according to who could shout the loudest.”
The Grove sources meat from local butchers, farmed from places such as Gunton, Hevingham and Gressingham, all just a few miles away. “We also have a large kitchen garden which adds to our dishes, so some items on the plate are still growing hours before they are eaten.” Chris adds.
The Grove is ideal for a wonderful meal out (including private dining), a short romantic break, a holiday with the kids, or can even be booked exclusively.