Located deep in the Norfolk countryside about midway between Norwich and the coastal town of Cromer, Blickling Hall and Estate makes for a great stop off in the area.
The magnificent Jacobean house sits in formal gardens and is surrounded by countryside with several walking routes to explore.
Your approach to Blickling Hall begins with the gardens. A walled garden leads round the side of the house to sweeping lawns and a large lake, with deckchairs set out for you to take in the scenery. Continue round the side of the house across wide lawns to the formal “parterre”, a Victorian garden set out in a careful pattern broken up by acorn-shaped yew hedges. From the formal garden, steps lead up to a long walk ending in a small temple, with wooded walkways either side.
Blickling Hall is truly a magnificent building. Built in the Jacobean era, during the reign of King James I, it is a red brick confection of windows, turrets and chimneys rising 5 storeys high.
Although the present house dates from the early 1600s, Blickling Hall’s history is even longer and more famous. Owned by the Boleyn family around 1500, it was almost certainly the birthplace of their 3 children, including Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII. Anne certainly lived here in her early childhood before the family relocated to Hever Castle in Kent; there is a portrait of Anne on the staircase, although this portrait was painted in a later, Georgian style.
The house is open to visitors, although when I visited in May 2021, only some of the rooms were open due to COVID restrictions. Although the house is 400 years old, bear in mind that it was regularly updated and most of the internal decoration dates from around the 1930s. It still holds considerable historical interest, just not the same history as the exterior! That said, there are plenty of nods to its older historical context, including a copy of a Holbein portrait of Henry VIII (the original has never been found).
Visit some of the main rooms of the Hall, including the drawing room and dining room, and explore the kitchens below stairs. Other parts of the building will be opened up as restrictions ease.
The Blickling Estate covers more than 4700 acres, including 500 acres of woodland. There are several walking trails through the estate, one of which is marked as accessible. Bicycles can be rented if you prefer wheels; standard and electric bikes are available, as well as balance bikes for younger children.
How much does it cost?
Blickling Hall is run by National Trust Norfolk; parking and entry to the house and gardens are free to members.
For non-members, entry costs £10 for adults and £5 for children, with free parking; if you are only exploring the wider estate, parking costs £5 per vehicle.
Blicking Hall opening times
As of summer 2021, Blickling Hall is open to visitors from 11am to 3pm every day. The Garden is open from 10am to 5pm in summer, 10am to 4pm in winter.
Getting here and away
Blickling Estate lies 2 miles from the town of Aylsham, with regular buses to and from Norwich, as well as the historic Bure Valley Railway which runs several times a day from Wroxham on the Norfolk Broads.
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