Norfolk has a huge collection of impressive stately homes including Holkham Hall and the most famous of all, Sandringham, the Queen's favourite country residence.
Norfolk Stately Homes and Gardens
Almost as famous is Holkham Hall a classic 18th century Palladian-style mansion. Home of the Earls of Leicester and 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.
This is not forgetting Blickling Hall near Aylsham (40 minute drive) with its 55 acres of topiary, sweeping lawns, herbaceous borders, temple and lake. The choice really seems endless especially when you add Houghton's walled gardens and deer park (10 minute drive) or further a field Oxburgh Hall near Downham Market (35 minute drive) with a famous French parterre or the chance to enjoy the wildlife at Mannington's medieval moated manor house at Saxthorpe near Aylsham (30 minute drive) with its country walks, arboretum, observation hide and wild flowers.
Felbrigg Hall is a 17th-century country house located in Felbrigg, Norfolk, England. Part of a National Trust property, the unaltered 17th-century house is noted for its Jacobean architecture and fine Georgian interior. Outside the house are a walled garden, an orangery and orchards.
Pensthorpe near Fakenham (20 minute drive) is very special and home to two delightful gardens both designed by Chelsea Flower Show gold medallists including, The Millennium Garden, a spectacular summer garden filled with drifts of perennials and grasses and the Wave Garden, a late winter and spring garden which enhances the resident trees with meandering Luzula flitting through crests of yew hedging. Don't forget the fragrant Norfolk Lavender just round the corner at Heacham (5 minute drive) which for many years has been famous the whole world over.
Castle Rising Castle (20 minute drive)
Castle Rising Castle is one of the most famous 12th Century castle ruins in the country. The stone keep was originally constructed around 1140 ad and is amongst the finest surviving examples of its kind anywhere in the UK. Along with the massive surrounding earthworks, Castle Rising Castle and the history that surrounds it is of national importance.
Throughout the annals of time, the castle at Rising has served in many different roles including hunting lodge, royal residence, and for a brief time in the 18th century even housed a mental patient. The most famous period in its history was when it came to the mother of Edward III, Queen Isabella, following her part in the murder of her husband Edward II.
The castle passed to the Howard family in 1544 and it remains in their hands today, the current owner being a descendant of William D'Albini II, the Norman baron who raised the castle.
Castle Acre Priory (30 minute drive)
One of the largest and best preserved monastic sites in England, the foundation of Castle Acre Priory in about 1090 ad sprang directly from a visit by William de Warenne II and his wife Gundrada to the great French monastery of Cluny. So impressed were they by its beauty and holiness that they vowed to introduce the Cluniac order of monks to England.
The village of Castle Acre itself is well worth a visit in many respects. Located on the ancient Peddars Way, it has a Roman trackway to the North which until recently, remained an important route to the north Norfolk coast. In addition to the Priory ruins are the impressive Norman mott and bailey castle earthworks. Both were founded around the same time, soon after the Norman Conquest in 1066 by William the Conqueror, first earl of Surrey.
Also in the village, the surviving Bailey Gate was once the North gateway to what was once a walled town. When first established, Castle Acre was one of the finest examples of Norman town planning in the country, and much of this can still be seen.