Sandringham is probably Norfolk’s most famous country estate, and covers an area of 600 acres. Bought by Queen Victoria in 1862 for the Prince of Wales, the original house was knocked down and the present mansion was built. The house has always been a particular favourite with the Royal Family, and both George V and George VI died within its walls. The house and gardens are open to the public when the Royal Family are not in residence.
Museums that were old stables and coach houses now display family possessions. These include many vehicles, from the first car owned by a British monarch, to a half scale Aston Martin.
Blickling Hall dates from the early 17th century, and the whole estate covers an area of 4,777 acres. Owned by the National Trust, Blickling Hall has a fine collection of furniture, pictures, tapestries, a shop, restaurant and tea-room, and a secret garden.
Holkham Hall is considered one of the finest stately homes in the country. It was built by Thomas Coke (first Earl of Leicester), in the mid 18th century. Since then, seven generations of Earls of Leicester have lived in the hall.
There is a stunning marble hall and magnificent state-rooms, and the 3,000 acre park is home to roughly 800 fallow deer. The deer park is open every day apart from Christmas day, with free unlimited access. As well as wandering around the house and park, visitors can also look at the stables, coach house, a working pottery and a museum of vehicles, with rural and domestic bygones.
Oxburgh Hall was built by the Bedingfield family in 1482, and is now a National Trust property. It is a well kept and elegant moated manor house, with a magnificent Tudor gatehouse, and is available to hire for private functions.
Felbrigg Hall stands within 1,750 acres of ground, and still contains its original 18th century furniture, with gothic style library and a fine collection of paintings. There is a 500 acre wood, with many walks leading to the lakeside.
Houghton Hall is a fine example of palladium architecture. There is a park with rare white deer, walled gardens, museum, tea-room and gift shop.
Norfolk has a history of very wealthy landowners and today examples of this wealth can be seen in the form of magnificent stately homes, many of which are open to the public. These imposing country houses are as diverse as they are impressive, with beautifully landscaped gardens, soaring ceilings, moats, secret corridors, stained glass windows and art collections, there is plenty to see and explore; here are seven of the best in Norfolk……