North Norfolk is a region full of cultural attractions, not least of which are the numerous stately homes dotted across the landscape. These magnificent country palaces, the homes of Lords, Earls and Kings, are among the country's finest artistic achievements. Today many of these stately homes and their surrounding estates can by enjoyed by the general public.
In this week's blog we've put together our top 3 stately homes in North Norfolk.
Built in the eighteenth century for Sir Robert Walpole, Britain's first Prime Minister, Houghton Hall is one of the finest Palladian houses in the country. Houghton Hall was the work of two of the most celebrated architects of the day, James Gibbs and Colen Campbell, while the interior was the design of William Kent.
Walpole was one of the wealthiest men of this time, and to decorate his new home he amassed one of the larget collections of art in the country, including works from masters such as Rembrandt and Van Dycke, some of which still hang in the Hall today.
Today, Houghton Hall is the home of Walpole's descendent the 7th marquess of Cholmondeley. The Hall and the award winning walled gardens are open to the public from April to October. The estate also plays host to the Soldier Musuem, the largest private collection of model soldiers in the world.
Admission prices to Houghton Hall begin at £10 for adults, while children under 16 are admitted for free.
The ancestral seat of the Earls of Leicester, Holkham Hall was built between 1734 and 1764 for Thomas Coke, the first Earl of Leicester. Thomas Coke had spent six years travelling around Europe as a young man, during which he developed a deep affection for classical style. When he returned home to Norfolk he enlisted the help of William Kent to build and design Holkham Hall, described by architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner as "the most classically correct house in Britain". Visitors to Holkham Hall today will find magnificent furnishings, statues, tapestries and paintings by the likes of Rubens, Claude, Poussin and Van Dyck.
Holkham Hall is situated within a 25,000 acre park, home to large quantities of fallow and red deer. Designated walks allow visitors to explore 3,000 acres of the estate, and to enjoy stunning view provided of the house and the surrounding countryside.
Holkham Hall is open to the public from April through to October, and from November to December. Admission prices to the house and gardens begin at £15 for adults and £7.50 for children.
Sandringham House, the Queen's treasured country estate, was bought by the Royal Family in 1862 as a private retreat for (future king) Edward, Prince of Wales. The house has remained the country retreat of choice for the Royal family for four generations. The Queen's father, George VI made the first ever Royal Christmas broadcast from Sandringham in 1932, whole the Queen herself made the first ever televised Christmas broadcast from the Sandringham library in 1957. The house today is still maintained in the style set by Edward and his wife Alexandra, with all the main ground floor rooms still occupied and used by the Royal Family regularly.
The extensive grounds at Sandringham were first opened to the public by Edward (who was by this point King Edward VII) in 1908. In 1930 the Sandringham museum was opened, while Queen Elizabeth opened the house completely to the public in 1977. Today visitors to Sandringham can enjoy the museum, the sixty acre gardens, Sandringham Church and the main ground floor rooms of the house itself.
Sandringham House, Gardens and Museum, and Sandringham Church, are open from Saturday 15th April undtil Friday 21st July, and then again from Saturday 29th July up to and including Saturday 29th October 2017. Prices for the house, museum and gardens begin at £15.50 for adults and £7.00 for children.
If you're planning a holiday to North Norfolk, then why not stop off or stay at Heacham Manor, a luxury, Elizabethan manor house? Prices start from just £89 Bed & Breakfast, based on 2 people sharing a double/twin Cottage Standard Room.