Today, the Grange Hotel is a friendly and welcoming place to stay, a quiet and picturesque haven set in tranquil grounds only two miles from the centre of King’s Lynn.
It wasn’t always that way, however. During its 100-year history, the Grange has been home to a surpirsing cast of characters – including Mayors, ex-boxers and famous magicians from around the world!
The Grange was built around 1910 by Benjamin William Langley and his well-repsected local company, who were based in Aickman’s Yard in King’s Lynn. Indeed, take a walk down the town’s King Street today and you can still see Langley’s name high up on a wall.
Bearing a remarkable similarity to what is now The Links Hotel in West Runton, the building is an architectural marvel of the Edwardian era. It’s literally packed with charming details and period features – from the magnificent minstrel’s gallery to the distinctive external tower that’s such a focal point.
It was a house to be proud of, and was home for many years to the Catleugh family – probably best known for the Alderman Catleugh Secondary Modern School for Boys and the upmarket store in King’s Lynn the school uniforms were (naturally enough) available from.
It was a select address, and in the early years of the Second World War it was home to the Mayor of King’s Lynn – John Harwood Catleugh, who held the post from 1939 to 1941.
The Catleughs were still living there as the 1960s dawned, and made such an impression that some 50 years later you can still hear local people refrerring to Catleugh Corner.
By the mid-1960s, the building had been purchased by Jack Curtiss, in turns transport owner, builder, and (in his early days at least) an exceptional boxer. Jack proceeded to transform the surrounding of the Grange, building a series of houses and bungalows in the grounds (the area known as Willow Park today). As for the Grange itself, however, the building was about to enter – quite literally – a magical new phase. Jack Hughes (1906-1981) was a respected cabinet maker, but he was far better known as a master magician and inventor of several famous tricks, inclduing Copenetro (1939), the Giant and the Dwarf (c1950), Dippy Duck and the Clatter Box (c1963).
Under Jack’s son Bernard, the Grange became Hughes House of Magic. Meetings of the Magic Circle regularly took place in what is the hotel bar today, and it was so popular that aspiring and famous magicians were still writing to (and visiting) the Grange long after Bernard closed the doors on his House of Magic.
It was local builder Edward Tann and his wife who turned the Grange into a guest house in the 1980s, but a lot of the magic remained.
Seeing this wonderful old building through the next stage of its history are Taz and Jane Verma, who’ve made the Grange their home for almost 15 years.
“It’s a building that’s packed with local history,” says Taz, “and that’s why it’s perfect for a hotel. There’s no better way for a visitor to King’s Lynn to say hello to the town than by visiting one of its friendliest buildings.”
But it’s not just for visitors. Set in private gardens with an equally private car park and large family bedrooms, the Grange Hotel is perfect for all kinds of family gatherings – from weddings to chistenings, from lively parties and celebrations to peaceful and dignified wakes. It’s lovely building with a grand history – and a very bright future!