The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.’ This opening line to L. P. Hartley’s The Go-Between is one of the best-known in British literature. Published in 1953, the novel harked back to the start of the 20th Century, telling the story of a boy who, while spending the summer with a school friend at a grand country house in Norfolk, passes messages between his friend’s elder sister and a local farmer with whom she is conducting a clandestine affair.

It was a world with which the author was familiar, as Hartley did indeed spend a summer with a school friend at such a house in Norfolk. But Hartley’s own childhood home – Fletton Tower in Cambridgeshire – was itself grand too, with seven bedrooms and five reception rooms, extensive grounds, a stained-glass window, and, as its name suggests, a tower.

However, while Fletton Tower might look like it is in the heart of the countryside, it is only just over a mile from Peterborough city centre – an illusion created by the large numbers of trees that surround it.

While Fletton Tower might look like it is in the heart of the countryside, it is only just over a mile from Peterborough city centre – an illusion created by the large numbers of trees that surround it

While Fletton Tower might look like it is in the heart of the countryside, it is only just over a mile from Peterborough city centre – an illusion created by the large numbers of trees that surround it

The property boasts seven bedrooms and five reception rooms, extensive grounds, a stained-glass window, and, as its name suggests, a tower

The property boasts seven bedrooms and five reception rooms, extensive grounds, a stained-glass window, and, as its name suggests, a tower

'People just don't know we live here,' says florist and mother- of-three Joanne Poulter, who is selling the property

‘People just don’t know we live here,’ says florist and mother- of-three Joanne Poulter, who is selling the property

The Grade II listed property, which was built in the 1840s, was owned by the Hartley family for almost all of the 20th Century – they bought it in 1908

The Grade II listed property, which was built in the 1840s, was owned by the Hartley family for almost all of the 20th Century – they bought it in 1908

It still has lots of original features including a servant's hatch in the kitchen, a butler's pantry and a wine cellar

It still has lots of original features including a servant’s hatch in the kitchen, a butler’s pantry and a wine cellar

There is a snooker room, and the utility room is the house's former coal bunker. Outside there is a walled garden, a vegetable patch and triple garage. There is also a double-storey stable block and workshop

There is a snooker room, and the utility room is the house’s former coal bunker. Outside there is a walled garden, a vegetable patch and triple garage. There is also a double-storey stable block and workshop

Joanne adds: 'The mature trees look amazing, especially at this time of the year. We can't be seen from the road. It's such a shock when you come down the drive and there's this really warm, cosy house'

Joanne adds: ‘The mature trees look amazing, especially at this time of the year. We can’t be seen from the road. It’s such a shock when you come down the drive and there’s this really warm, cosy house’

A gym in the stables and a study with three work stations have been a godsend during the lockdown, says Joanne

A gym in the stables and a study with three work stations have been a godsend during the lockdown, says Joanne

‘People just don’t know we live here,’ says florist and mother- of-three Joanne Poulter, who is selling the property. ‘I’ve lived in Peterborough my whole life and before I came here even I didn’t know the house was here. It’s just like being in an oasis.’

She adds: ‘The mature trees look amazing, especially at this time of the year. We can’t be seen from the road. It’s such a shock when you come down the drive and there’s this really warm, cosy house.

‘It’s brilliant for parties, outside and inside.’

The Grade II listed property, which was built in the 1840s, was owned by the Hartley family for almost all of the 20th Century – they bought it in 1908.

The Poulters bought it from the Hartleys in 1996.

It still has lots of original features including a servant’s hatch in the kitchen, a butler’s pantry and a wine cellar. There is a snooker room, and the utility room is the house’s former coal bunker. Outside there is a walled garden, a vegetable patch and triple garage. There is also a double-storey stable block and workshop.

A gym in the stables and a study with three work stations have been a godsend during the lockdown, says Joanne.

In his memoirs, Hartley, who died in 1972, referenced a Victorian bath at the house, which is still there. And Joanne has also kept on something else from the days when the Hartleys were there: a tradition of animal-rearing. ‘They bred deerhounds,’ she says. ‘Well, we’ve got three goats. It’s quite nice, because we get children peeking through the bushes to see them!’



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