All About Kate Middleton and Prince William's Home Away from Home — Anmer Hall

Anmer Hall was a gift from the Queen for Kate and Prince William's 2011 wedding

Cambridge family
Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Louis, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Photo: BBC

While Kate Middleton and Prince William's home base is at Kensington Palace in London, the couple and their three children — Prince George, 8, Princess Charlotte, 6, and Prince Louis, 3 — spend plenty of time at their Sandringham country estate, Anmer Hall. Located about 110 miles north of London in Norfolk, their second home — a gift from Queen Elizabeth for the royal couple's 2011 wedding — is often where the family of five escape to during school breaks, weekends and holidays. They also were in isolation at Anmer Hall throughout much of the pandemic.

Kate has said her favorite times with her family are "outside in the countryside and we're all filthy dirty" — and Anmer Hall is the perfect place for some messy fun. During breaks from homeschooling, George and Charlotte are encouraged to spend time outdoors. Kate has also shared that Prince Louis "loves smelling flowers" and "enjoys being outside."

The country home, where Kate is said to feel most at home, has also served as a favorite photoshoot spot. In addition to their family portrait from their 2018 Christmas card, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis have had their annual birthday photos shot by mom Kate at Anmer Hall.

"This part of Norfolk is just very quiet and peaceful," local B&B owner Marie Therese Viney previously told PEOPLE. "It is the perfect place to raise a family."

Anmer Hall. Alpha Press

When Kate and William inherited the 10-bedroom home, the Duchess of Cambridge opted to take on the interior decorating.

"Instead of hiring a royal interior designer, she wants to furnish it in her own style, because she wants this to be her own family home," Simon Knight, owner of Knights Oriental Rugs in Henley-on-Thames, told PEOPLE.

"She was looking for things for bedrooms," he added, "so she wanted softer pastel shades rather than strong colors."

In addition to the considerable renovation, including a complete retiling of the roof, the couple added a sunlit garden room to one side of the house with a pergola-covered patio for extra privacy and protection from the notorious British weather.

To increase the family's privacy further, extra trees were planted and the driveway was rerouted so the public entrance near St. Mary's Church was turned into a private entrance accessible only by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

General Views Of Anmer Hall
Anmer Hall in Norfolk. Indigo/Getty

The tennis lovers — they're regulars at Wimbledon! — also upgraded the tennis court at Anmer Hall. According to an application filed by officials at Sandringham Estate, a new court was made of AstroTurf and bordered by a copper beech hedge, with new oak trees proposed to be planted nearby.

The vast Georgian mansion also has an outdoor swimming pool and is surrounded by acres of parkland of the Queen's Sandringham estate – perfect for raising children away from the hubbub of William and Kate's Apartment 1a at Kensington Palace in the heart of London.

"It's like a fancy farmhouse," someone familiar with the house told PEOPLE. "It isn't grandiose. But it's a great, friendly family environment."

An insider previously told PEOPLE that guests at Anmer Hall are typically greeted by Kate herself at the door.

"There was no formality at all," said the insider at the time. "It really was like any other family sitting down to lunch, with George and Charlotte eating their homemade food in their high chairs and toddling around with their toys."

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And although they have plenty of help from nanny Maria Turrion Borrallo, it's often just the family at home.

"You'd think that Kate and William would have an army of staff to help them out, but it really was just them and the children," noted the insider.

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