Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Getaway Cars: Converted Rail Carriages as Vacation Cabins in Norfolk, England

Search

Getaway Cars: Converted Rail Carriages as Vacation Cabins in Norfolk, England

May 25, 2021

Jo and John Morfoot are both Norfolk folk, born and raised on the verdant east coast of England. They met when she came looking for urns in his architectural salvage yard, Morways Reclaim. One of the UK’s leading proponents of natural floral design, she’s the owner of Jo Flowers and happens to also have a knack for interior design. John has not only a trove of materials but carpentry skills, and the two have been collaborating for the last several years on an ongoing project: the creation of a vacation retreat called Settle set on 30 acres of parkland that John’s father purchased in the late 1970s.

The property had been used as a small caravan park—a place for vacationers to stay in trailers. John and his father dug two lakes, but their plans of building cabins were thwarted by a lack of funds. Devoting their winter downtime to salvaging those dreams, Jo and John have developed Settle in ways that would surely delight John’s late father. Join us for a tour of our favorite attraction, the two antique railway carriages that they converted into storybook guest quarters, each overlooking a lake. If you happen to be within traveling distance, Settle is accepting reservations.

Photography by Haarkon, courtesy of Settle (@settlenorfolk).

Carriage No. 1

built for transporting cargo, the train cars date from the early \20th century  9
Above: Built for transporting cargo, the train cars date from the early 20th century and have been fully refurbished for year-round living: each has a sitting room, full kitchen, bedroom, and bath.

John and Jo did the work themselves with help from an employee of John’s, plus an electrician and plumber. Settle is located  in an area called Breckland, which, Jo tells us, has “the largest lowland forest in the UK.” The property was once part of neighboring estate Shropham Hall.

carriage \1 came with original wood paneling and flooring &#8\2\20;bearing  10
Above: Carriage 1 came with original wood paneling and flooring “bearing the scars of its history.” All of the added elements, such as the windows and front door, are reused goods from John’s reclamation yard. The rooms are heated with a wood-burning stove and vintage cast-iron radiators.
&#8\2\20;the idea of climbing up into bed appealed to us; it has a very nos 11
Above: “The idea of climbing up into bed appealed to us; it has a very nostalgic feel,” says Jo of the sleeping nook. The linen sheets and duvet cover are from UK company Piglet in Bed.
the kitchen is set in an addition in the back—the red painted boards are the  12
Above: The kitchen is set in an addition in the back—the red painted boards are the exterior of the carriage. John and Jo made the counters from workbenches rescued from a school lab. (See another example of lab castoffs put to good use in An Artist Couple’s Hauntingly Beautiful Quarters.)
guests are left a breakfast basket that includes local eggs, sour dough bread,  13
Above: Guests are left a breakfast basket that includes local eggs, sour dough bread, and fresh butter.
table for one with a pass through. 14
Above: Table for one with a pass-through.

Carriage No. 2

  each carriage has its own little deck. 15
Above:  Each carriage has its own little deck.
the interior has new paneling made from reclaimed wood finished with a transpar 16
Above: The interior has new paneling made from reclaimed wood finished with a transparent white lime wash from Bauwerk. “This carriage was found in a lesser state than our first, but it has its original wood ceiling wood and floorboards,” says Jo. The small wood-burning stove is a Hobbit.
like carriage \1, the kitchen is set in the back addition and fully paneled. 17
Above: Like Carriage 1, the kitchen is set in the back addition and fully paneled.
the early \1900s ceramic sink is detailed with a stopper pocket. 18
Above: The early 1900s ceramic sink is detailed with a stopper pocket.
the kitchen&#8\2\17;s black wall is the preserved exterior of the carriage. 19
Above: The kitchen’s black wall is the preserved exterior of the carriage. The Oak Plate Rack is from Rowen & Wren.
a period plank door pairs well with a set of shop drawers that the couple purch 20
Above: A period plank door pairs well with a set of shop drawers that the couple purchased at a local auction—”these were a horrid glossy black that we scraped back to this lovely green,” says Jo.
the bed occupies its own train car niche. 21
Above: The bed occupies its own train-car niche.

Jo and John are currently at work on their third rail carriage, which they plan to “launch” this summer. Settle also has a lake cabin and three canvas safari tents for rent individually or as a group for 13 guests.

Here are some other eye-opening conversions:

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0