Stately Homes & Gardens
Sandringham Estate is probably the most famous of all Norfolk’s attractions. Sandringham is the Royal country retreat and has been the private home of four generations of British monarchs since 1862. The house itself is set in 60 acres of stunning gardens with stunning displays of ornamental plants, trees, streams and lakes.
The entire Estate is enormous covering 20,000-acre of countryside. Sandringham Country Park consists of 600 acres of woodland and heath which is open to the public free of charge every day of the year. The Visitors Centre at the Country Park has a gift shop, tea room/restaurant, small garden centre and an ice cream stand which sells some of (in our opinion) some of the best ice cream to be found anywhere!!
The visitors centre sits aside a large open field, perfect for a family picnic and outdoor games. The Country Park with it’s shady woodland is an excellent spot for long walks. Dogs are welcome (especially corgi’s).
The impressive Houghton Hall was built in the early 18th century for Sir Robert Walpole, the first British Prime Minister and is a key building in the history of Palladian architecture in England with magnificent interiors designed by William Kent. The Estate is owned by the current Marquess of Cholmondeley, holder of the office of the hereditary Lord Great Chamberlain of England.
The Houghton Hall gardens received the ‘Garden of the Year Award’ from Christies and the Historic Houses Association in recognition of the renovation of the stunning 5-acre walled garden which began in 1991. The Garden is divided into sections or “rooms” by clipped yew hedges interspersed with statues. The rose parterre has over 150 English rose varieties set around a sunken fountain. One of the more recent additions to the garden the Waterflame feature designed by Jeppe Hein.
There is also a Model Soldier Museum housing one of the largest and most comprehensive collections in the world with 20,000 pieces on display in various battle formations. A picnic and play area for children is situated next to the car park with a licensed restaurant and Gift Shop in The Stable Square.
Houghton Estate also has a large herd of beautiful white Fallow Deer along with several other exotic deer species.
Holkham Hall is a classic 18th century Palladian-style mansion. Home of the Coke family and the Earls of Leicester, Holkham Hall was built between 1734 and 1764 by Thomas Coke, the first Earl of Leicester providing a living treasure house of artistic and architectural history.
Situated in a 3,000 acre deer park on the beautiful north Norfolk coast, it is part of a great agricultural estate.
Attractions include: Bygones Museum, an evocative collection of over 4,000 items from cars, crafts and kitchens to steam. History of Farming Exhibition with audiovisual aids and dioramas. Holkham Pottery and Gift Shop, art gallery, café, tearooms, lake cruises and The Victoria Hotel. Holkham Beach and Nature Reserve are minutes away from this truly stunning stately home.
Built in the early 17th century, Blickling is one of England’s great Jacobean houses. The spectacular Long Gallery houses one of the finest private collections of rare books in England, and you can view fine Mortlake tapestries, intricate plasterwork ceilings, an excellent collection of furniture and paintings, as well as the newly restored 19th century Hungerford Pollen painted ceiling.
The glorious gardens are beautiful all year round with thousands of spring bulbs, swathes of bluebells, vibrant summer borders and rich autumn colours. It really is a garden for all seasons and, with its 18th-century Orangery, secret garden and woodland dell, there is plenty to discover. The Hall is set in an historic park with miles of beautiful woodland and lakeside walks – it even has a pyramid-shaped Mausoleum.
Felbrigg was built both before and after the English Civil War, and behind the sumptuous Stuart architecture lies a fascinating history. In the 19th century Felbrigg was almost lost to the shopping sprees of rackety ‘Mad Windham’, but was rescued when it passed to the Ketton-Cremer family in 1923, who restored it to its former glory.
Explore the imposing Georgian Drawing Room and Gothic-style library, then investigate the kitchen, with its collection of beautiful kitchen implements and shining array of copperware. Outside, Felbrigg is a gardener’s delight, with a decorative and productive walled garden, Victorian pleasure garden and rolling landscape park with a lake and 200 hectares (520 acres) of woods to walk through on waymarked trails.
Oxburgh’s secret doors and priest’s hole make this a house of mystery and history. Step back in time through the magnificent Tudor gatehouse into the dangerous world of Tudor politics. Home to the Bedingfield family since 1482, this stunning red-brick house charts their history from medieval austerity to neo-Gothic Victorian comfort.
As well as early Mortlake tapestries in the Queen’s Room, Oxburgh houses beautiful embroidered hangings by Mary, Queen of Scots, and Bess of Hardwick. Panoramic views from the roof look out over the Victorian French parterre, walled orchard, kitchen garden and a Catholic chapel. There are quizzes, trails and dressing-up clothes to try on, and charming woodland walks.
With fabulous displays of rhododendrons and azaleas from mid May to June and viewing towers providing amazing views, Sheringham Park is one of the finest examples of the work of Humphry Repton. Discover more about this famous landscape gardener in the exhibition, look around the shop and sample local, seasonal food from the courtyard kiosk.
Stroll along the paths through woodland and parkland or follow the ‘Tree Trail’ to discover some rare and unusual trees. You could also take part in one of the organised events aimed at making the most of your visit.
East Ruston Old Vicarage
East Ruston Old Vicarage is one of the most remarkable and enjoyable gardens made in recent years. Created by Alan Gray and Graham Robeson, now 15 years old and expanding at a rate of knots, it is a feast of formal design, and decorative exuberance. It is located quite close to the sea and well protected from the full blast of the wind by dense wind breaks, making it possible to grow remarkably tender plants.
Clustering about the Arts and Crafts Vicarage, walled and hedged compartments vary strongly in mood from cool formality to explosions of colour and form. Sculptures, lavishly planted pots and finely detailed walls and gates also play their decorative part. If you are any form of garden lover although far away so worth the visit.