Tour Anmer, Will & Kate's Quiet Country Retreat
WELCOME TO NORFOLK
Norfolk, England, with its fresh air and friendly people, is home to Prince William and Princess Kate's Anmer Hall, a 10-bedroom home gifted to them by the queen. Here, the couple is quietly nesting with Prince George, 21 months, and Princess Charlotte, 2 weeks, flying under the radar at local parks and businesses. "This part of Norfolk is just very quiet and peaceful," local BampB owner Marie Therese Viney tells PEOPLE. "It is the perfect place to raise a family."
While pregnant with Charlotte, Kate visited the Grapes Gallery in nearby Snettisham, browsing and asking about picture framing services. "When she left, I just said, 'I can't believe what I've just done!' I didn't call her 'Your Highness' or anything like that. I just said, 'Hello,'" owner Rob Kerr tells PEOPLE. "She didn't come across as the type of person who would expect people to say anything like that to her anyway. She was very down to earth."
Kerr, who owns Grapes Gallery with his wife Jane, believes the couple "picked the best place" to raise their children. Plus, "we've all lived near the royals for years, so we're used to them being around."
INSIDE GRAPES GALLERY
Grapes isn't the only place where Kate went unnoticed. During a pre-Charlotte stop at Spar supermarket (the British equivalent of a 7-Eleven), "She quickly came into the shop, picked up a few bits and left," a shop assistant tells PEOPLE. "Before I realized who she was, all I could see was the back of her head!"
J.E. HOWARD BUTCHER
The couple's local meat shop, in nearby West Newton, is a regular errand stop, too. "It's so rural and remote up here that they can escape and be a family," employee Ian Evans tells PEOPLE. "They have lots of space and freedom to do what they want – everyone leaves them alone."
Evans' coworker, Brett Corder, adds, "They wouldn't be able to live the same way in London. They wouldn't be able to just walk around the streets of Kensington like they can here and nip into a butcher's shop."
CHURCH FARM B&B
Opposite the Kings Head pub, where Will and Kate have dined in the past, is the Church Farm bed and breakfast, owned by Nigel and Marie Therese Viney. As the house sits on the queen's Sandringham Estate, the monarch is actually the couple's landlord! Anmer Hall itself was once a BampB, Marie Therese tells PEOPLE. "My sister stayed there and said it's a really beautiful place, full of big, lovely rooms. It's very secluded, so I don't think they'll ever have problems with people looking over the back wall, that's for sure."
NIGEL & MARIE THERESE VINEY
As for their famous neighbors, "Hopefully we'll bump into them!" Marie Therese says. However, the BampB owners have already had a royal encounter; as Nigel tells PEOPLE, "Prince Charles popped in to say hello when we first moved in 10 years ago and stayed for a glass of whisky and a cup of coffee. He was wonderful."
PENTNEY HOUSE HAT SHOP
Located in the charming Burnham Market neighborhood, this local hat shop has supplied toppers to many a royal, including the queen. Kate has been in several times, director Maxwell Graham-Wood tells PEOPLE, "Once with William, once with her mother and a couple of times on her own. She just potters around looking at things. So we just like to leave her alone and don't make a fuss."
INSIDE PENTNEY HOUSE
"We have two big rooms upstairs, one with ladies' hats and one with men's hats," Graham-Wood shares. "[Will and Kate] both went into each room and were laughing and joking with each other, as well as the other customers and staff. They are very natural together. When they were upstairs it was like a church downstairs because everyone was pointing to the ceiling going, 'Do you know who's up there?!'"
HATS OFF TO WILL & KATE
"The modern royals are very different to the older generation," Graham-Wood continues. "There's no sense of them being aloof or not wanting people to get close to them. They are very approachable and, as a result, people don't make quite so much of a fuss about them. They don't ask us to shut the shop for them. They just show up. They are just very nice."
Hurn, the founder of Pentney, doesn't "spill the beans" on "what the royals buy or how much it costs," Graham-Wood says. However, seeing a pair of gloves Kate bought at the shop on her hands for an official engagement "was a real thrill for us," he adds.
A WORLD AWAY
Scattered around the surrounding villages, herds of cows and flocks of sheep munch on grass as owls rest in the trees. Kate is able to duck into the local supermarket without fuss, and Will and Kate enjoy dinner dates at the vintage pubs in town. As Marie Therese tells PEOPLE, "It's a very calming place to live."