It has been a difficult year, personally speaking, for Carolyn Godlee, Co-Owner of Cley Windmill. After a serious injury, she is returning to life at the top of one of North Norfolk’s most loved and recognisable landmarks. We had a chat about the Windmill, the business and the future.
Describe Cley Windmill for us.
Cley Windmill is well known as an iconic landmark on the North Norfolk coast. This beautifully maintained windmill with glowing white sails and red and white fanstage, is a sight not to be missed when visiting Cley next the Sea. Amazingly, you can stay there too! A wonderfully converted, award-winning guest house, the windmill is available for bed and breakfast, with dinner being served on most nights, and it’s also a popular wedding venue for small, intimate weddings with a difference. The windmill is set in its own beautiful walled gardens, fringed with reeds and backing onto the River Glaven with fantastic views out over the marshes with the sea in the distance. A short walk from Cley Beach and the best bird-watching and sailing activities you could hope for, it makes for a memorable North Norfolk holiday base.
What inspired you to buy / take on Cley Windmill?
Julian’s parents used to own Weybourne Windmill and he spent all of his childhood holidays in North Norfolk. He has a bit of a ‘thing’ about windmills! So when Cley Windmill came on the market he was determined to move heaven and earth to make it happen. He hasn’t regretted it. It’s an incredibly special place and has been a major part of his life over the past 13 years, and that of his wife, me (Carolyn) and four children, all of whom have at some time worked in the business.
Tell us what makes your business stand out from other similar businesses?
Quite simply, it’s so different. Cley Windmill has a special atmosphere which is apparent from the moment you walk through the door. Wonderfully atmospheric, it simply exudes history, character, interest, cosiness, comfort and of course, peace and tranquillity. The building is special and so are the gardens. The views are to die for. Guests are thrilled to stay in a real live windmill – by its very nature it stands out from the crowd.
Speaking of your business, what are you most proud of and what would you have done differently… and why?
We are most proud of the sensitive restoration programme, rolled out over the years of our ownership. We have replaced the sails and the fanstage – a major project which drew interest from all the media outlets with tv coverage as the new sails were hauled into place. We have restored several of the outbuildings and we’ve poured huge love into the gardens. There’s not an inch of the windmill that we haven’t loved and cared for! We’re so proud to be the custodians of this amazing building. And we love the fact that we employ local people. Our Head Housekeeper has been working at the windmill for almost 40 years and lives in the village. She’s an absolute wonder!
What’s next for Cley Windmill?
Good question. Watch this space. We don’t want to let any cats out of bags just now!
Tell us about your favourite Norfolk day out… and why?
Has to be sailing out from Cley Harbour, newly dredged, to spend the day on the fabulous Blakeney Point and then heading back on the next tide. Nothing matches it.
Finally… Enjoying Norfolk is all about discovering new places and businesses in Norfolk. Do you have a Norfolk gem or a top tip for a thing to do / place to visit that you can share with us?
Yes, take a look at Made in Cley – the great village pottery. We have so many of their pieces at the windmill. Just lovely. Not to mention the Pinkfoot Gallery, and the delicatessen ‘Picnic Fayre’. Oh, and the Cley Smokehouse where we get lots of our breakfast delicacies. All definitely worth a visit.
Thank you for your time Carolyn.
You can read more about Cley Windmill here, and there is currently a special offer of 50% OFF bookings (selected rooms & dates up to the end of February 2020), if you book by 15th November 2019. Call 01263 740209 for more details.