The Blickling Estate comprises a magnificent mansion, Blickling Hall, surrounded by splendid gardens to amble around. All of this is adjacent to the extensive park with rolling fields, ancient woodlands and the lake.
It’s a great place to enjoy rural Norfolk. The landscape is gentle and flat, ideal for cycling and walking. Inside the grand house you will find one of the most important book collections in the country and all around are reminders of past residents including:
- Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s famous ill-fated second wife
- Philip Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian, secretary to the Prime Minster, Lloyd George and Ambassador to the US between the Wars. Philip bequeathed the Hall to the National Trust in 1940 and was instrumental in setting up the Country Houses Scheme, where, upon death, stately homes and their contents could be left to the nation.
View Lord Lothian’s Last Speech (YouTube) (1940)
- RAF servicemen and women stationed at the Estate during the second World War.
Very little has changed over the centuries but today, the Estate remains a busy place for you to discover and enjoy.
Our Top 7 Reasons to visit the Blickling Estate
- History – Blickling Hall was built between 1616 and 1627, designed by Robert Lyminge. Acquired by The National Trust in 1940, it is also home to the RAF Oulton Museum.
- Art & Culture – enjoy the Hall’s enchanting Chinese bedroom with hand-painted wallpaper, the great Russian Tapestry and various other works of art. Blickling often hosts open air theatre events and Summer music concerts. Art, craft and photography exhibitions are also frequent.
- Nature – waymarked parkland walks (guides are available from the visitor reception). A stroll around the lake is very popular. This is a great place to enjoy the Norfolk countryside.
- Architecture – enjoy the magnificent building, built in the Jacobean style which was based upon the classical buildings from Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.
- Bluebell Woods – during Spring, find peace and tranquillity amongst the vast Bluebell Woods. Ideal for a picnic.
- The Mausoleum – located 2 miles from the hall in the ‘Great Wood’ stands this impressive 45ft high pyramid that contains the remains of John Hobart, the 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire and his family.
- Fishing along the mile long crescent shaped lake. The current fishing season is from 16th June to 15th March 2016. Simply park in Fisherman’s Car Park (far side of the lake) and choose a place to fish from (numerous jetties are available). A warden will come around the lake and collect the modest fishing fee for the day.
Exotic plants and flowers
The grand property is surrounded by splendid parkland and woodland. In April the Hyacinths begin to create colourful displays and the ancient Yew hedges that were originally planted in the 17th Century can be admired within the walled garden.
During late Spring the glorious gardens are awash with Rhododendrons and Azaleas. In high Summer the large exotic herbaceous borders dominate. In the grounds of the Blickling Estate there are miles of footpaths to explore, an 18th Century Orangery, an extensive parterre and a delightful secret garden.
Grand architecture, symmetry and proportion
When planning the Great Hall at Blickling, the 17th Century architects adopted new fashions which came from the Continent. The building’s architecture was based on the building styles and methods found in classical Greece and Rome. These new styles paid more attention to symmetry and proportion.
The Neo-classical 45ft Mausoleum hidden amongst the evergreen trees, The Great Hall with the Jacobean double flight staircase and the large portico at the main entrance by Ignatius Bonomi are just a few of the delights that can be seen.
Empress Catherine the Great of Russia
John Hobart, 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire became an Earl in 1756 and was the ambassador to St. Petersburg between 1762 and 1765. He made fashionable alterations to Blickling Hall, installing an enchanting Chinese bedroom with hand-painted wallpaper and the ‘Peter the Great’ room.
This room is named after its Russian tapestry of the Battle of Poltawa that was given to John Hobart by the Empress, Catherine the Great whilst he was ambassador to the Russian Court. John Hobart died in mysterious circumstances in 1793. A quote from Horace Walpole says ‘Lord Buckinghamshire suffered from gout in his foot, dipped it in cold water and so killed himself.’
Betrayal of a King
The hall that stands today was built on the site of the late-medieval moated house and was purchased by Sir Henry Hobart in 1616. One resident of the original house was Sir John Fastolf – a minor change of his name allegedly gave Shakespeare one of his most popular characters – Falstaff.
Sir Henry Hobart sold the house to Geoffrey Boleyn, the great grandfather of Anne Boleyn. There is a possibility that she was born at the Hall. She was the great love of King Henry VIII’s life.
Anne Boleyn was unable to give him a male heir, although her daughter Elizabeth I would eventually become one of England’s greatest monarchs. Anne Boleyn was executed on 19th May 1536 at Tower Green, London.
On the anniversary of her death legends describe that a coach drawn by headless horses drives up to Blickling Hall with Anne clutching her own disembodied head in her lap. That same evening, it is believed that her father, Thomas Boleyn also charges along the lanes in his coach, paying penance for being too frightened to stand up to the King on behalf of his children. His task is to cross over a certain number of Norfolk bridges (including bridges at Aylsham, Coltishall and Wroxham) before cockcrow.
Today, under the care of The National Trust, Blickling Hall plays a large part in the local community and draws many thousands of tourists each year to discover its hidden treasures. The extensive grounds and surrounding farmland are the perfect place to sit quietly and contemplate or to spend idle hours with a picnic in the sun. It is also a great place to walk the dog and a smashing place to let the children run wild.
The Blickling Estate is an ideal location to complete many of ‘the 50 coolest outdoor things to do before you’re 11¾’ as featured at 50things.org.uk, an exciting NT program for children to enjoy at their properties.
Facilities: 2 cafés, restaurant, second-hand bookshop, gft shop, plant centre, nearby pub (The Buckinghamshire Arms, a grade II listed building).