Norfolk is full of posh houses and beautiful gardens – lovely places to wander around, soak up the history and have an excuse to eat cake and drink tea.
The more well known houses are:
Felbrigg Hall is within North Norfolk’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and stands in its own 1,750 acre estate. It is one of the finest seventeenth century houses in the country.
Blickling Hall is one of the greatest houses in East Anglia. The house dates from the early seventeenth century and has fine collections of furniture, pictures and tapestries.
Sheringham Park was designed in 1812 by Humphry Repton, the great landscape designer. Repton himself said it is ‘my most favourite work’. Go there from mid-may to early June, when the Rhododendrons are out!
Houghton Hall built by Great Britain‘s first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton was passed to the Cholmondeley family through marriage at the end of the eighteenth century. Houghton‘s unique history and interior, the award winning five acre garden, the contemporary sculpture park, the model soldier museum, playground and restaurant, offer something of interest to everyone, and makes for a great family day out.
Holkham Hall is privately owned and a lived-in family home. As well as Viscount Coke and his family, two other families live here throughout the year and although the house is closed to the public in the winter, it is never empty or idle.
The Sandringham Estate is the much-loved country retreat of Her Majesty The Queen, and has been the private home of four generations of British monarchs since 1862. The house, set in 24 hectares of stunning gardens, is perhaps the most famous stately home in Norfolk and is at the heart of the 8,000-hectare Sandringham Estate, 240 hectares of which make up the woodland and heath of the Country Park, open to the public free of charge every day of the year.
Hoveton Hall The beautiful Hoveton Hall Estate covers 620 acres of parkland, gardens, woodland, arable and grazing land. This fine Regency Hall was built between 1809-1812 and has been owned by the Buxton family since 1946. Handed down through the generations, the hall was passed on to Harry and Rachel Buxton in 2013.
My favourite gardens to visit are:
East Ruston Old Vicarage garden lies 1½ miles from the North Sea in an exposed prairie landscape containing large arable fields. Many of the wildlife habitats have long been swept away and been replaced by the planting of mixed hedgerows, banks, wildflower areas and ponds. Due to the maritime influence the garden suffers little in the way of serious frost damage and so there are large shelter belts of Pinus radiata, the Monterey Pine, Alnus cordata, the Italian alder and many Eucalyptus. This enhances the garden’s unique microclimate which enables a huge range of plants.
Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden Set in the heart of the Norfolk Broads, Fairhaven is a unique garden rich in wildlife. The Garden is an eclectic mix of native and cultivated plantings with a network of dyke systems and a private broad. Take a picnic or enjoy a hot meal/snack from the cafe.