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Blickling Hall

A Staggeringly Beautiful Norfolk Estate

To sum up Blickling Hall before I even start, this is a house that has superb grounds to walk around, a stunning lake that looks onto the house, the most amazing garden I have seen, a fantastic and historical house to browse at your leisure, and good food at either the pub or the cafes.

What more could you want?

I only have praise and admiration for the National Trust and what they have achieved at this splendid property.  It should take your breath away.

Blickling Hall

And in case you hadn’t guessed, this has to be my favourite Norfolk stately home!  Although Sandringham House comes close!

And with such a beautiful backdrop, it holds numerous events and functions throughout the year.  You can even hire it for your very own wedding!

History of Blickling Hall

For those of you interested in the history of these magnificent houses, here is a brief outline.

Originally owned by Sir John Falstolf of Caister (who also built Caister Castle) from 1380-1459, it then changed hands to the Boleyn family, their most famous daughter being Anne Boleyn, one of the wives of Henry VIII. It's believed that she was born here, but there are no official documents to back this up.  Legend has it that there are three ghosts who patrol the house and gardens here at Blickling, one being Anne Boleyn.

The present house was designed in 1616, and was actually built on the ruins of the original site.

During WWII it was used as the Officers Mess from nearby RAF Oulton and eventually passed into the hands of the National Trust, where it remains today.

Blickling Hall Park

The park and grounds at Blickling Hall are vast.  Acres of paths and woodlands for your pure enjoyment in whatever form that may take for you personally.  You can

  • walk around the estate parkland with easy-to-follow colour coded signs.  Dogs are very welcome in the park and the courtyard, but not in the house or the formal gardens.
  • cycle around purpose built tracks.  You can hire bicycles from the estate and more information on this can be found on the National Trust website.
  • while away the hours having a picnic, or just amble around at your leisure.   
  • even fish in the most idyllic surroundings on the lake in front of the house.  It's open to all ages and abilities, from June, 7am-dusk.  Call the ranger on 01263 731 944 for more details.

Before going into the house,  I took myself off for a lovely gentle walk (no hard walking here, just pick the length of walk you want) up towards the mausoleum which just appears, almost out of nowhere,  and then back down to the lake and around the back of the house.  It was beautiful.  

Blickling Mausoleum

The mausoleum is a strange rather austere monument which houses the remains of the 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire and his two wives.  Built of grey stone, it stands alone in the middle of woodland, surrounded by a metal grill and has a rather eerie feel to it.  Having walked around it, I swiftly moved on, but was also glad I saw this hidden memorial!

Blickling Hall Tower

You can walk past The Tower, which was built in the 1800’s as a grandstand for the racecourse that used to stand in the field now known as Tower Park (now a holiday cottage, but still looks pretty impressive from far away).  Or you can take a beautiful walk around the large lake

I stopped at the end of the lake where the anglers were fishing for bream, and sat and marvelled at the view towards the Hall.  It was just serene and beautiful. 

In fact, The Weaver's Way long distance trail goes right through these grounds, as well as passing another Norfolk stately home, Felbrigg Hall.

I then continued on around the outside of the estate and eventually ended up at the café to start my visit of the house.  This walk, in itself, was well worth it. 

  • If you’re looking for a good day out, this would definitely be top of my list.
Blickling Hall from the lake
The lake at Blickling Hall

Blickling Hall Interior

Blickling Hall, like so many of the other Norfolk stately homes, is a treasure, it really is.  The minute you walk through the wrought iron gates you are faced with this immaculate picture of grace, elegance and refinement.  Dating back to the Boleyn family, it’s amazing to think of what went on in the house during that time.

The interior is one of splendour.  Amazingly decorated, ornate rooms with incredible ceilings, furniture and views on to the formal gardens. 

Blickling, although large, is on a different scale to Houghton Hall or Holkham Hall.  It doesn't have resplendent marble rooms or rooms on such a large scale, but still contains tapestries, furniture and painting of great importance,

Entrance to Blickling Hall
Blickling Hall Long Room
Main staircase at Blickling Hall
Blickling Hall Interior

And the house has some amazing treasures. 

The Long Room, one of the many rooms you pass through, was built for indoor games (!) in bad weather, but more importantly now houses an historically important national book collection. 

The oldest book in the room is a handwritten manuscript from the 1100s containing the Dialogues of Pope Gregory the Great.   Understandably, all the books are behind metal grills but that doesn’t detract from the historical nature or beauty of the room.

The rooms I loved best, and that stuck in my mind well after I had left, were the kitchens below stairs.  It was very evident from here that hard toil and graft were the order of the day.  Incredibly well set out for the visitor, it just brings to life the difference between the English aristocrats and their servants at the time.   (Downton Abbey fans, you will be impressed!)

It was so easy to get some idea of how the servants  would have lived and worked right down from the little details of hanging the decanters upside down to using, what looked like, a terrifyingly awful range cooker!

Downstairs at Blickling Hall
The kitchens at Blickling Hall

The Formal Gardens

I’m not a great garden expert, but I felt totally relaxed and transported to another world in this wonderful garden.  The views are stunning, the orangery took your mind back to the days gone by and the beautiful borders and lawns are just magical.  So many photo opportunities, it’s difficult to put the camera away!

Maybe you fancy a game of croquet or Chess?  Well you can at Blickling, along with other giant board games, all provided free of charge by the National Trust.  If you’re going to spend the day at Blickling Hall, why not play a game or two!

View of the lake from Blickling Hall gardens
Topiary at Blickling Hall
The parterre
The Double Border at Blickling Hall
The Orangery

Refreshments at Blickling Hall

Refreshments, as ever, are readily available.  There are a couple of cafes in the courtyard, a little tea room near the car park and the local pub (The Bucks Arms) just next door to the entrance of Blickling Hall.

Haunted Blickling Hall

One of the ghosts of Blickling Hall is believed to be that of Anne Boleyn.  Legend has it that she has been seen arriving by coach carrying her severed head.  The coach is also said to be driven by a headless horseman and four headless horses - sounds rather grotesque!!

May 19th was the date of her execution, and so it stands to reason that this is the date when her ghost is said to appear.  It's also around this time that most of the visitor activities happens

Two other ghosts are also said to haunt the Hall.  One is Anne Boleyn's father, Thomas Boleyn, and the other is the original owner, Sir John Falstolf.

Blickling Hall has even topped the National Trust's poll for the most haunted NT building!  No surprise there then if it has not just one ghost but three!

Blickling Hall Events

If you want to get even more out of your visit to this incredible house, then why not tie it in with one of the many National Trust events that are held here throughout the year.  Events such as;

  • Apple weekend
  • NGS open gardens
  • Cooking in the kithcen
  • Afternoon Tea
  • Blickling by Candlelight.

Concerts are also put on throughout the year including The Blickling Proms. 

This really is the most magical Norfolk historical stately home.  There really is so much to see and do for everyone.  Without doubt, I think this is truly one of the fantastic Norfolk days out.

As an accommodation suggestion, a great place to base yourself for visiting here would be The Norfolk Mead Hotel in Coltishall. Great food and also it's near the Broads and the coast, so you have the best of both worlds.

And if you enjoyed Blickling Hall, why not take the short trip to Norwich and visit the cathedral.  Or go further north and take a walk on the fantastic Norfolk beaches, or even take a trip to see the seals at Blakeney Point.

If you're visiting Blickling, you could also take the short trip to Baconsthorpe Castle or Binham Priory