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After some 30 years of working as a Tour Director escorting non-Europeans around Europe on the Grand Tour, Rhu Bruce Lockhart returned to Holt, where he had been raised, with his wife Philippa and three young children in 1985. Shortly afterwards they bought and converted some barns in Thornage where they still live. This experience gave them a taste for developing redundant and traditional Norfolk buildings.
After persuading North Norfolk District Council that the old stables and garden behind the Kings Head would be better used as a new shopping area with pedestrian access to the High Street from the Budgen's Car Park, rather than the existing permission for two houses, Rhu succeeded in purchasing the site and the necessary Rights of Way on both sides.
The development began in 1994, and consisted of five shops, which were fully let on long leases at the outset. The new shopping area was called Appleyard after the original apple tree that was carefully preserved in the middle of the building site and which still stands today. Shortly afterwards eight permanent market-stalls built out of flint, brick, and pantile with outward opening wooden counters were added with the intention of renting them out to local crafts practitioners.