Priory Court is a private and separate gated park home village…
It’s hard to imagine a more idyllic location in which to relax into retirement than Priory Park - a mixed residential and holiday park - in coastal Suffolk.
Visitors and residents enter the park through automated security gates before venturing into 115 acres of private, south facing parkland, surrounded by rolling pastures and ancient woodland that flows gently down to the water’s edge.
The beautifully landscaped grounds feature immaculate lawns, lily ponds, wildflower meadow, woodland walks and panoramic river views across the River Orwell, a tidal estuary that leads out to the charming seaside town of Felixstowe. The Priory Park estate has been owned and run by the Little family for over 40 years.
“My Father, Peter, purchased Priory Park from Ada Buckingham in June 1981,” explains Priory Park Owner James Little. “Known as Alnesbourne Priory at that time, it enjoyed a mixed reputation and after years of neglect was a far shadow of what you can see today.
Over the past forty years, our family has poured three generations’ efforts into transforming potential into reality and creating the fabulous haven Priory Park is today.”
James and his wife, Lisa, have lived at Priory Park since 1986, first in a Pinelog Virginia and for the past 20 years in the house they built in the grounds. Priory Park has also been home to their two children, Jake and Sophie, who have both worked at the Priory during school holidays in their younger lives.
With Sophie now of to university and Jake continuing to take on more responsibility in the family business that he has worked in for the past five years, the future of Priory Park looks secure for future generations of the Little family.
Ensuring Priory Park is kept in tip-top condition is very much a team effort. James explains that the family is assisted by a team of 15-20 staff depending on the time of year:
“As you can imagine, keeping a 115-acre estate - the buildings, roads, infrastructure, flora and fauna - looking at their best involves a lot of effort from our teams. Thankfully we have great staff, most of whom have been with us for many years, who are all proud to be part of Priory Park.”
Within Priory Park, Priory Court is a private and separate gated park home village for residential use. Catering for the fifty plus age group, with no resident children, Priory Court comprises 100 bespoke bungalow-style homes. South facing and terraced with attractive brick walling, each home has its own private drive and generous landscaped plot.
Priory Court offers the best of both worlds for residents. They enjoy the security of their own private community whilst being part of a larger whole and benefiting from the grounds and facilities of the rest of Priory Park.
Within the grounds of the Park there are tennis courts, a heated outdoor pool, a nine-hole par 31 golf course, a popular Clubhouse bar and restaurant in a building dating back almost 1000 years, numerous woodland trails, and direct access to the shore of the River Orwell.
The homes within Priory Court are complemented by wide drives, grass verges and Victorian style streetlamps. With a wide range of homes, each is positioned at different heights and aspects to create an attractive, unregimented environment.
The variety of homes and the individualised nature of each was a conscious decision as James explains:
“Priory Court has been completely redeveloped over the years and we have sold homes from all of the main park home manufacturers. The redevelopment was all about customer choice which we felt would also make for a more interesting development. On the holiday home side of things, we have tended to work in the same way and have examples of most of the mainstream caravan and lodge manufacturers represented.”
The Little family were pioneers in the UK lodge market in the mid-80s and the holiday home side of the business caters for privately owned caravans and lodges where use is strictly limited to owners and their families. James says that “this enables us to maintain high standards and ensure the Park runs in a particular way.”
He continues: “There are several different holiday home planning consents within the 115 acres. At the moment we have 170 holiday homes in situ including our flagship Friars and original Abbots developments but do have planning for a gradual increase which over time will provide space for a further 125. As we have always tended to see development more as gradual evolution, this should keep Jake busy for the next twenty years!”
Four years ago, the Little family purchased a neighbouring small caravan park business to secure Priory’s boundaries. For now, and notwithstanding the rigours of running a business during Covid times, the focus is on maintenance and upkeep of the existing buildings to ensure all is in good order before starting the gradual redevelopment of Orwell Meadows. In time this will provide 40 new caravan holiday home plots which may well become a further lodge development, subject to planning in the future.
According to James, the Little family run Priory Park “in a low-key fashion without much fanfare.” It’s a very customer-centric business.
“Our aim is to be the best we can, providing a secure and exclusive environment for our customers to enjoy. We try to make the most of what nature has given us with the beautiful setting and treat our customers how we would like to be treated ourselves. Ultimately it is all about the people; without our customers or staff there is no business!”