Around fifteen miles away from Norwich’s city centre stands Blickling Hall estate and gardens, it’s Jacobean house and grounds are worlds away from the hustle and bustle that Norwich hosts on a daily basis.
When I decided to go on a day trip to the Blickling estate, I wasn’t really sure what I was walking into. We had made our decision on it being a nice day and the house having lovely gardens, I certainly didn’t anticipate the amount of history that was housed there. In brief, during the 15th Century the estate was in the procession of Sir John Fastolf Of Caister (that’s quite a regal name) who had made a fortune in the Hundred Years’ War. The more known and perhaps more popular owners of the Blickling estate are the Boleyn family (yes that Boleyn family) It was home to Thomas Boleyn and his wife Elizabeth between 1499 and 1505. Historians are confident that all three of the couples surviving children were born at Blickling, including Anne in 1501 who would later grow up to become Queen of England along side King Henry VIII.
Here’s the slightly cool part, Blicking is supposedly haunted by Anne Boleyn, with her appearing on the anniversary of her death every year. Due to the nature of her departure, Anne is seen to be carrying her head under her arm when she appears (ghost stories are so cute and flowery) in a carriage being pulled by headless horses and driven by a headless coachmen. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure Anne’s not quite over the fact that Henry VIII had her beheaded. The coach is supposedly driven down the main driveway to Blickling before disappearing into the house itself. There are witnesses to this, but I didn’t see Anne when I was there. The very regal, Jacobean house that stands today was built upon the ruins of the Boleyn property.
Before I visited Blickling, I had the basic knowledge like everyone else. I knew it was under the control of the National Trust,
who under the National Trust act can make bylaws about their property regarding such things as the consumption of alcohol on their sites. (it’s a reflex I swear) What I didn’t know was that it was the first estate/manor house to be left to the National Trust as part of a will, after the death of Phillip Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian the Hall and it’s surrounding acres was left to the National Trust at his request. During World War II the house served as a Officers’ Mess for RAF Oulton, when I visited there was a museum and gallery dedicated to the history of RAF Oulton and it’s pilots, which can be visited for no extra cost once you have entered the grounds of the house.
From 1960, the house was restored by the Trust to reflect the way in which it was left them by Lord Lothian. Which is how the house is now to visitors. His furnishings and personal items are placed around the house with a self guided tour for visitors designed and choreographed in a way that means you don’t miss anything or any room out. What I really liked about this site in particular was the National Trust volunteers that were placed throughout the house, so if you had any questions about the room you were in or the house/estate in general you could ask them and they would either be able to give you an answer or point you to a fellow volunteer who could. I’ve visited a couple of National Trust sites before, and I’ve never seen this set up before, but it was one that I certainly liked and would have liked to see at previous places.
Overall Blickling hall was a great day out with fabulous scenery, historical facts and sunny weather, Okay, so the weather doesn’t come with the house, but it’s rather smashing in the sunshine. Perfect for a family day out or a wander for inspired souls. There truly is something for everyone.