Rustic Retreats Made from Converted Antique Train Cars

Jo and John Morfoot are both Norfolk, born and raised on the verdant east coast of England. They met when she came to collect urns in her architectural salvage yard, Morways Reclaim. One of the UK’s main proponents of natural floral design, she owns Jo Flowers and also happens to have a knack for interior design. John has not only a wealth of materials, but also carpentry skills, and the two have been collaborating for several years on an ongoing project: creating a vacation retreat called Settle on 30 acres of parkland that John’s father has purchased in the late 1970s.

The property had been used as a small caravan park – a place where vacationers could stay in trailers. John and his father dug two lakes, but their hut plans were thwarted by a lack of funds. Dedicating their winter downtime to saving those dreams, Jo and John developed Settle in a way that would surely delight John’s late father. Join us for a tour of our favorite attraction, the two antique rail cars that they have converted into storybook guest quarters, each overlooking a lake. If you are within travel distance, Settle accepts reservations.

Photograph by Haarkon, courtesy of Settle (@settlenorfolk).

Trolley n ° 1

Built for the transport of goods, the train cars date from the turn of the century and have been completely renovated to live all year round: each has a living room, a full kitchen, a bedroom and a bathroom.
Above: Built for the transport of goods, the train cars date from the beginning of the 20th century and have been completely renovated to live all year round: each has a living room, a full kitchen, a bedroom and a bathroom.

John and Jo did the work themselves with the help of a John’s employee, plus an electrician and a plumber. Settle is located in an area called Breckland, which, Jo tells us, has “the largest lowland forest in the UK”. The property was once part of the neighboring Shropham Hall estate.

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Above: Trolley 1 is delivered with original woodwork and wooden floors “bearing the scars of its history”. All of the added items, such as the windows and the front door, are reused items from John’s salvage yard. The rooms are heated with a wood stove and period cast iron radiators.
& # 8
Above: “We were won over by the idea of ​​getting into bed; he has a very nostalgic feeling ”, explains Jo from the sleeping area. The sheets and duvet cover come from the British company Piglet in Bed.
The kitchen is placed in an addition at the back - the boards painted red are the outside of the cart. John and Jo made the counters from workbenches saved from a school laboratory. (See another example of laboratory fallout used wisely in An Artist Couple & # 8
Above: The kitchen is installed in an addition at the back – the boards painted red are the outside of the cart. John and Jo made the counters from workbenches saved from a school laboratory. (See another example of laboratory spin-offs used wisely in a couple of artists’ Hauntingly Beautiful Quarters.)
You will receive a breakfast basket including local eggs, sour dough bread and fresh butter.
Above: Customers are left with a breakfast basket including local eggs, sour dough bread and fresh butter.
Table for one with pass-through.
Above: Table for one person with pass-through.

Trolley n ° 2

    Each cart has its own little bridge.
Above: Each cart has its own small bridge.
The interior has new reclaimed wood panels finished with a clear whitewash wash from Bauwerk. & # 8
Above: The interior has new reclaimed wood panels finished with a clear whitewash wash from Bauwerk. “This car was found to be in a worse condition than ours, but it has its original wooden ceiling and wooden planks,” explains Jo. The small wood stove is a Hobbit.
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Above: Like the trolley 1, the kitchen is installed in the rear addition and fully paneled.
The ceramic sink from the early 00's is detailed with a stop pocket.
Above: the ceramic sink from the early 1900s is detailed with a plug pocket.
The kitchen & # 8
Above: The black kitchen wall is the preserved exterior of the cart. The Oak Plate Rack is from Rowen & Wren.
A vintage plank door goes well with a set of store drawers that the couple bought at a local auction - & # 8
Above: A vintage plank door goes well with a set of store drawers that the couple bought at a local auction – “it was a horrible shiny black that we scraped to find that pretty green, “says Jo.
The bed occupies its own niche of wagons.
Above: The bed occupies its own niche of cars.

Jo and John are currently working on their third car, which they plan to “launch” this summer. Settle also has a lake hut and three canvas safari tents for individual or group rental for 13 people.

Here are some other revealing conversions:

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