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By Tim Saunders

“I worked at the Greene King brewery in Bury St. Edmunds for 30 years,” says Mick Baldwin from Risby, just down the road from where we stay at The Highwayman’s. “In the old days you could pack in your old job on a Friday and start a new one on the Monday. That’s what I did on a number of occasions. I started off working in a hospital and had a series of jobs until I ended up at Greene King, a stone’s throw from Risby. There wasn’t really an interview. A number of my relatives worked for them and that was good enough. I started off on the ground floor and then worked my way up to become a beer tester; a job I enjoyed for 20 years. I had to ensure that the beer was brewed correctly and had the right amount of alcohol in it for Customs. In the early days there were great perks including a beer a day. At that time the managing director knew the names of all staff regardless of their position. It was a great family run business and you felt the management cared. When my wife and I married we even had a free bar. Guests told me it was the greatest party they had been to but we didn’t see it because we had to leave at 9pm to go on our honeymoon.” Eventually Mick applied for redundancy and took early retirement. “I didn’t like how the process was being automated,” he recalls. Founded in 1799, today Greene King is the UK’s largest pub retailer and brewer owning 1,600 pubs nearly all selling cask conditioned beer. A major Suffolk employer the company is listed on the London Stock Exchange. While I was familiar with this business I wasn’t expecting to bump into a past employee with such a fascinating tale to tell.

We stay at the Highwaymans, which, in the 18th century, was a favourite haunt of notorious highwaymen. You can imagine them settling down to a good night’s sleep after robbing some poor unsuspecting soul. Later it was the spot of a vineyard and in fact during our visit we spy some young vines that have been successfully planted. Today, The Highwayman’s is owned and run by Juliet Fisher and her five children. When our daughters Harriett (5) and Heidi (3) play outside on the bikes and pedal cars we bump into Meralina (5) and her brother Noah (9). It’s great to see that the four of them instantly hit it off and start talking about school and their interests. Meralina quickly notices that she has the same shoes as Harriett. As Meralina hares around on her bike she stops to say: “I learnt to ride this when I was four.” Noah, a keen footballer, chips in that there’s a holiday cottage, various rooms, and caravans can even stay for £10 a night on the eight acre site.

We stay in a family room, which really does have the wow factor. Large windows let in lots of light to the master bedroom and the accompanying window sills cry out to be sat on, I find; an ideal spot to sit and make notes. Wildlife paintings on the walls and antique furniture help to make a stay here a great occasion. It reminds us of a plush hotel but with the added family appeal. The girls have their own separate bedroom complete with bunk bed, which can be shut off from ours. As is often the case the first night is never great because Harriett and Heidi take time to adjust and so they keep getting up to mess about. Anyway, bleary eyed we pray that the second night gets better. Thankfully it certainly is. We all enjoy their 12 hours sleep. My wife, Caroline even grabs a few hours more than she is used to but not enough of course because of little Henry’s (4mths) teething, which has seen him develop a nasty cough. When he wakes up at 1am he insists on clinging to mummy and nobody else. The beds are comfortable and there is peace and quiet, when our children finally get to sleep. For business travellers there is wi-fi. The Highwayman’s is not just a place to rest your weary head, there are regular events. “We have clay pigeon shooting every two weeks, regular yoga classes and even art exhibitions,” says Juliet. In fact the current exhibition features selected professional artists from Creative Coverage including Clare Blois, Gerry Defries, Susie Lidstone and Clive Meredith.


A Five Star Steal. The Highwaymans. Review.

Weddings at Highwaymans Suffolk

Neighboured by Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge, The Highwayman’s is within close enough proximity to the cities to benefit from the styles of their affluent economy and inspiring architecture while not close enough to be stifled or overshadowed by them.

This is a region known for large patchworks of rural areas, rolling knolls, glens and forests in which cities and towns linger in the crevices like fallen pebbles. While only a short drive to any one of the cities or one of the main arterial roads of Britain (M11, A14), on foot you will find yourself surrounded by tranquility, the sounds of birds, the balmy spring air and dappled sunlight. Today the Highwayman stands in a league of its own for the highest levels of comfort, luxury and professionalism. Owner Juliet Fisher has definitely gone out of her way to ensure that guests arriving at The Highwayman’s will be wanting to return, however it has enjoyed a turbulent and controversial history that still haunts the spirit of the place. “The Highwaymans belonged to the Ickworth Estate and was still used as curb heath land even in our lifetime,” Juliet reveals, “Known as the Highwaymans haunt in the old days where they lurked to rob sick travelers along the black ditches which can still be seen along the boundary of our land, as well as people returning, with winnings from the Newmarket races.”

The building that now serves as the Highwayman’s Bed and Breakfast and Gallery was created as a vintner’s house in the late 1970s as the land was granted planning permission to grow a 24 acre vineyard. Known as the Highwaymans Vineyard that ran successfully for a decade while also playing the role of a family house, “Highwaymans created wines such as St Edmunds Bury which was sold to P&O ferries and Tescos,” Juliet explains, “However, erratic weather conditions and a lack of investment into English wines forced the vineyard to be returned to farm-land.” In the eighties the Highwaymans played home to a number of US military pilots and this lasted until 2007 when changing demands of the military left the building empty yet again. Enter, Juliet. No stranger to hard work and grafting Juliet is the matriarch of a large family including five children (four boys and one girl), a devoted husband Adam, and three cats, three dogs, 2 rabbits, 2 guinea pigs and ten chickens!

She has worked for such notable hospitality names as the Hyatt Hotel Chain, The Dorchester and Centre Parcs occupying positions such as human resources, marketing and even event management and so she was perfectly prepared for the challenge of taking on the HiIghwaymans. “Having started a family my husband and I ventured to Suffolk and moved into Highwaymans in December 2007,” she recalls, “We had a business plan and some savings and the rest just fell to hard work.” OPERATIONS The success of any establishment comes in the attention to detail and the small things always matter; a good hot shower, a tranquil night sleep and a scrumptious Highwaymans Breakfast as an example. An additional token feature of The HIghwaymans is that it cannot be seen from the Risby to Cavenham Road thanks to a line of trees so visitors have that magical moment as they turn the corner and see the building appear on the horizon. Eight bedrooms, holiday homes, solar panel energy, air source heat pumps with breakfast and dining in the Art Gallery.

This is the perfect getaway for couples and families to get away from the cities and get a lungful of fresh air and a taste of the local area and it is all down to design. bedroom Speaking at the Chamber of Commerce earlier this year Juliet explained, “I personally set up the Highwaymans with the intention to expand and enrich the cultural life of East Anglia and provide a community destination,” With this as a driving force the Highwaymans offers not only the highest standard of accommodation and a stunning one of a kind art gallery, perfectly suited for the surrounded sublimity but also a range of events to ensure guests enjoy what is on offer both and inside and out. Clay pigeon shooting and yoga retreats, theatre-dining evenings, painting and photography workshops, wedding dinners, wakes, team building days and even corporate meetings, “We also run the café, tree walk and an antique and collectable gift shop,” One of the many things Juliet is passionate about is nurturing the enterprises of the next generation, “I’m a mother myself and have seen how the challenges in the economy and education system does not guarantee a job after school or university,” she explains, “That’s why it’s so important to motivate and inspire young business minds and young entrepreneurs, giving them the opportunities to develop lucrative careers. It’s not only good for the local economy now, but it could make a huge difference in their lives later on as well.” Drawing upon her marketing experience Juliet’s methodology is simple but highly effective, “The HIghwaymans entices visitors from further afield looking to get a taste of the countryside and as the more time they spend here the more money they can spend within our local economy,” And it certainly works, with long lists of reviews on Tripadvisor going back seven years which have earned four and five stars repeatedly and continually use the words, “Peaceful,” and “perfect,”.

“The beds are very comfortable, the pillows smell fresh and the showers are hot and invigorating,” is one of the reviews that would put it above a number of other hotels and bed and breakfasts in the region but the thing mentioned the most has been the efficiency and warmth of the hosts and the courteous, engaging staff. highwasy “We have five full time staff,” Juliet says, “And Adam and myself, the numbers can go up with part time staff during functions such as weddings which we are fully equipped for. Our staff are all trained to the hospitality industry’s standards with regular revisits to make sure everything is at the very best.” The catalogue of requirements that customers and guests expect today when booking a room at a bed and breakfast or a hotel have changed significantly in the past seven years. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal published last year the number one question being asked by potential guests on an international level is the how good the broadband and Wifi coverage is. This has put pressure on more rural destinations that in the past may have been favored for their isolation, to step up and make internet accessibility one of their solemn offerings.

“The Highwaymans is fully connected,” Juliet assures, “It has to be for the wide range of events that we host. It’s not just about guests being able to keep up to date with what’s happening on Facebook and Twitter but importantly for the local businesses and artists we represent at our Gallery and store.” Gift Shop WHERE TO VISIT Close to Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds, a stay at Highwaymans can offer delightful trips into these cities that can offer completely different worlds of variety. Cambridge, famous for its University has a culture that has been shaped around the vibrant student population with boutique coffee shops, restaurants and open manicured grounds. Under a skyline dominated by the university’s renowned Cavendish Laboratory, King’s College Chapel, and the Cambridge University Library the evenings come alive with carnivals, street parties and regular nighttime events. Music, stage performances and comedy are on offer in this smelting pot of culture, nationalities, religions and educations. Cambridge is a place where it is better to park up and take to the streets on foot. The busy market town of Bury St Edmunds, originally called Beodericsworth in Suffolk, is known for brewing and malting and is home to the large Greene King brewery. This historic gem of a town brims with a richly fascinating heritage and combines the medieval architecture, elegant Georgian squares and glorious Cathedral and Abbey gardens together to offer the avid travel a distinctive visual charm. Something for the bucket list must be spending some time visiting the award winning market which is one of the most prestigious in the region.

NEW DEVELOPMENTS The Gallery Since taking on guests in 2008, The Highwayman’s has attracted a variety of customers. With its stunning scenery and staunch appearance, wider than it is tall, appearing like a 18th century New Orleans mansion, The Highwaymans sets a certain style at the onset that suits a certain class of client looking for the opportunity to enjoy the countryside from the comfort of a self-contained room. However Juliet plans to broaden their caption area by introducing camping grounds for tents and caravans to increase capacity and make things accessible for all budgets. “Developing is great,” she insists, “It’s important that we can offer a selection of stays to a variety of people looking to enjoy what we have to offer. It also keeps the staff excited and motivated which in turn reflects onto the guests.” – See more at:

Are you a key worker, a couple who wish to self isolate in the countryside, those who can’t go back home to older relatives? There’s a lot of space here and we also have self contained roomsClick Here
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