Norfolk offers a wealth of historic houses and NT properties to visit.
Marvel at the magnificent interiors, gardens and deer park at Holkham Hall – an 18th-century Palladian mansion on a large estate still lived in today. Holkham Hall’s highlights include the Statue Gallery, paintings by Rubens and van Dyck, and the Marble Hall, with trompe l’oeil ceilings or head out to the walled garden and woodland adventure play area. The deer park is open every day and then head to the Victoria Inn.
Houghton Hall , once home to Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister, has early 18th-century interiors sumptuously designed by William Kent. Other highlights include a superb five-acre walled garden and parkland with contemporary sculpture collection. Tuck into seasonal fayre at the Stables Cafe before heading to the model soldier museum housing the largest private collection in the world.
Or head to National Trust-owned Bickling Hall (once home to the Boleyn family) for impressive Jacobean architecture and a lake. Both host outdoor concerts in summer. Blickling Hall, once home to the Boleyn family, is now a large National Trust estate with a magnificent library and Second World War history. There are cycle paths through the estate.
Visit stately Felbrigg Hall, one of the finest 17th-century houses in East Anglia, now run by the National Trust. The heart of the ancient Felbrigg estate dates back to the 11th century and is noted in the Domesday survey of 1086. The opulent 18th century house is a somewhat newer addition and contains original furniture, stained glass windows and an inspiring Gothic library. The rolling landscape of the park boasts 520 acres of woods and trails with numerous wildlife walks for keen ramblers and energetic children to embark upon.
Sandringham Estate– as one of the county’s most famous landmarks, a visit to Sandringham Estate is a must – with beautiful royal gardens that are home to rockeries, streams and woodland walks. Set in the 24 hectares of gardens, the stately home is at the heart of the 8,000-hectare estate.
Oxburgh Hall is a 15th century manor house was built by the Bedingfield family who owned it for 500 years until it was given to the National Trust in 1952. With its medieval gatehouse and famous Marian Hangings and a breathtaking view from the roof of the Norfolk countryside.
Head just north of Fakenham to discover Hindringham Hall a Grade II* moated house that dates back to 1100. The gorgeous gardens at are open and feature a walled fruit and vegetable garden, a daffodil area, a pretty water garden and a nut walk bordered by a wild garden. A stop in the café, serving tea, coffee and cake in pretty bone china will be a welcome respite.
At the Mannington Estate expect to find rose gardens, a classical temple and a woodland garden at this medieval moated and Grade I listed manor house near the village of Itteringham. The hall is open by appointment, or visitors can head to the Greedy Goose Tea Room that boasts a range of locally sourced food and homemade treats. The gardens are surrounded by a number of walks and trails through ancient woodland, grassland, wet wildflower meadows and an arboretum of native trees
Hoveton’s Hall 15 acre Gardens are wellknown and loved by both locals and visitors alike and include the walled “Spider Garden”, the “Old Kitchen Garden” a one acre former Victorian walled kitchen garden now with the addition of lawns and herbaceous borders while still providing fruit, vegetables and herbs for the house. There is also a “Clematis Walk”, an Orchard, a “Woodland Walk”, the “Magnolia Garden” as well as two Lakes, The Arboretum, the Grade II listed Glasshouse and the 18th Century Grade II listed Ice Well. These beautiful Gardens begin with a burst of early Spring bulbs, the spectacular Rhododendrons and Azaleas in May and June through to the mid-summer delights of the ‘Spider Garden’. Full summer colours of Hydrangeas followed by autumn berried shrubs and leaf tints complete what is truly a garden for all seasons. There is the excellent Garden Kitchen Cafe.
East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens are 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.