Return to the good life

MEMORIES of an idyllic Suffolk existence were relived as the family of one of the self-sufficiency movement’s most influential figures revisited their old home.

Five decades since John Seymour wrote the inspirational classic, The Fat of the Land, while living in Orford, his wife and children returned to stay at the secluded Gedgrave Broom.

Now a holiday home, let by Best of Suffolk, the cottage was featured in the book, as was the owner, who let the 17th Century property for a peppercorn rent in late 1956.

The cottage provided a perfect smallholding for the family to realise their self-reliant vision with no electricity, phone or letterbox. Seymour’s daughter, Anne, now 54, said: “It’s beautiful to be back. The interior has changed a lot but the atmosphere and charm remain. It was great growing up here – we were free. Everything was so interesting and exciting.”

Anne’s father, who died in 2004, was an influential figure in the 1970s self-sufficiency movement and his philosophy inspired The Good Life television series.

Gedgrave Broom was built in 1600s and was once owned by ice cream mogul Lyons, who sold it to the late Sir Alan Clark’s family.

It was bought in 1918 by the current owners’ great-grandfather, ‘Soapy Joe’ Watson, an Edwardian soap magnet who founded one of the first big agricultural research centres, to help improve the diets of the poor.

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For more on booking the cottage, call Best of Suffolk on 01728 638962 or visit For anniversary editions of the book, written by Seymour and wife, Sally, visit

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