Brisley Bell, Dereham, Norfolk

Posted on:


The Brisley Bell is located halfway between Fakenham and East Dereham, in an area of beautiful Norfolk countryside, standing in a commanding position overlooking one of the largest open grazing commons in England. Marcus Seaman and Amelia Nicholson lived nearby and were very saddened to see the gradual decline of The Bell and eventually closure in 2013.  After long discussions and deliberations they took a giant leap of faith and began negotiations to buy The Brisley Bell (as it is affectionately known). They became the proud owners of The Bell in September 2015 with a shared vision to bring it back to a traditional pub with added amenities.

Project Summary

Landscaping of the fallow land at the rear of the pub to create a pub garden and ‘glamping’ site began in earnest in 2015. Planning was granted in May 2016 and then the new build started in August 2016; adding a restaurant, garden room, kitchen, office and new toilets which more than doubled The Bell’s footprint. While all this was happening Marcus & Amelia decided to retain many features within the pub including the snug area (the original restaurant) with its feature fireplace. This was earmarked for a library and reading room, however they quickly realised that the shelving would be too large for this area and decided to have the books as a feature in the garden room, which has much more space.                                                                                


The Brisley Bell now boasts a brand new community library and reading area thanks to Norfolk County Council’s Community Services Funding and Pub is The Hub’s support and advice. Although the library is in the garden room customers who want a bit of peace and quiet can sit in the comfortable snug and browse the many books or the daily papers that are on offer. The Bell has boosted the local economy by using local produce wherever possible, using local suppliers for both the renovation and running of the pub and given job opportunities to local people. They also intend to hold a variety of arts and sporting events, support the community with digital training sessions and set up an over 60s lunch club. Their ‘glamping’ site will be up and running later this year, with the accommodation opening in spring/summer 2018.  All these facilities have helped establish a very successful pub with villagers and visitors alike enjoying the hospitality of The Brisley Bell and making it the hub of the community.                                                                                                   

Lessons Learned

  • A shared vision with local authority support for a rural project like this is essential.
  • Pubs can be so much more for communities than just serving food and drink.

Project Capital

Total Capital Costs for the Library £3,000
Applicants’ Contribution £1,500
Norfolk County Council Community Services Fund £1,500