Countryside Estate Offering Beautiful Views and History
Stacy Cosham moved to Lowestoft on the East Suffolk coast 11 years ago and has been enjoying all that North Norfolk has to offer ever since.
“I have friends who lived in Cromer and Sheringham, so have spent a few days there camping or wandering around with them. In terms of visiting for tourist reasons, I’d like to do more as I’ve recently taken up photography.
“My favourite thing to do is go for beach walks in North Norfolk and explore. Woodland walks are especially lovely for photography purposes. North Norfolk has a lot to offer, which is why next summer I intend to spend more time visiting that part of the coast.
“North Norfolk also has lots of beautiful stately homes and estates to visit, usually with lots of grounds to explore, which make for great photography.”
Blickling Hall is a Jacobean property once owned by the Boleyn family, with 950 acres of woodland and parkland plus 3,500 acres of farmland. A 55 acre garden showcases numerous gardening styles from over the years. There is also a walled garden, where fresh fruit and veg is grown. “I first heard of Blickling Hall from colleagues when I moved to the area 11 years ago. Blickling Hall is considered a gem of Broadland. I’ve visited as part of my job and have been back again three times for my own enjoyment. The first time I went to see what my colleagues were fussing about, the second to show it off to visiting family from Manchester and my most recent visit was specifically to practice new photography styles.”
A Summer Visit
The hall and grounds are open to the public all year round, with lots of cycle routes and walks of varying lengths to explore.
“My most recent visit was in August. I went by myself with my camera to walk around the gardens and the park. I love to visit in mid-spring and summer when the gardens and meadows are in full bloom. On this occasion I spent my time wandering the gardens and picnicking near the orangery. It was the first time I’d walked through the meadows surrounding the Hall and I found the wildlife plaques really interesting and helpful to identify the plants around me.
“If you’re into fishing then it’s definitely worth visiting the lake, which is really peaceful to walk around. I met some lovely fisherman at the top of the lake who were very friendly and helped me to set up my camera shots.
“The grounds are teaming with wildlife such as dragonflies, butterflies, rabbits, birds and if you’re lucky enough to spot one, red deer. They often get barn owls nesting in the woods too. Tenant farmers have herds of cows on the farmland who are quite tame and I spent some time watching them graze.
“The gardens are set out beautifully to give you a nice walk into and around each different space. The meadow walk is peaceful and informative along the way. I did spend time at the Tower and Mausoleum, both of which attract lots of visitors – if you are visiting for photos then you need patience for others to move away because they are really popular.”
A Hall Steeped in History
Summer 2015 marks the 75th year since the death of Lord Lothian, who left the estate to the National Trust. A new exhibition opened this summer to celebrate this anniversary, with Lord Lothian’s possessions and objects to be displayed, plus extra parts of the house opened to the public.
“I’ve visited the new Lord Lothian exhibit and felt it explained the recent history of the Hall very well. It was very interesting to see his old possessions and get an idea of what it would’ve been like to live there back then.
“The history of the Hall is explained inside and outside the grounds. You get a good understanding of the role of the Hall during Anne Boleyn’s time there and its history with Lord Lothian. Information boards at the opening of the gardens are very informative of the extensive work gone into maintaining and designing the gardens. You can really appreciate the time spent tending to the grounds and the contributions from valued volunteers.”
The Hall also boasts a 12,500 volume strong book collection, including important historical manuscripts, wildlife encyclopaedias and rare, first editions, most of which belonged to Lincolnshire scholar Sir Richard Ellys. A number of fine art works by artist Francis Hayman, historic pelmets and curtains can also be found at the Hall, many of which have been restored in recent years, all showcasing the history of the estate.
Events for All Tastes
Blickling Hall hosts a range of events throughout the year, from seasonal to family oriented, wildlife and conservational to arts, crafts and historical.
“Blickling always has a great selection of events: Ghost walks, Tudor performances and re-enactments, Halloween specials and Bonfire Nights. The Hall also participates in Heritage Open Days, opening up parts of the Hall not usually available to the public to celebrate the history and architecture of the property. Those are very special and advertised thoroughly across Broadland and nearby market town Aylsham. The Halloween events are spectacular and the November firework displays are gorgeous – I attended one year with work and the atmosphere was amazing.”
Dedicated Staff and Volunteers
The Hall is run by a small team of staff but also has a huge group of passionate volunteers, who help with the conservation of the house, man the shops and cafés, plus help to run events.
“The staff are helpful, very well informed about the Hall, friendly and super welcoming. The gardeners love to tell you more about the gardens and the plants. One time it was very breezy, so they helped me photograph some plants by holding them still but without intruding into the frame. They clearly appreciate the Hall and its surroundings which shows through their enthusiasm.
“Catering wise, the coffee shop homemade cakes are delicious. The main restaurant offers a nice range of refreshments, warm and cold foods, and I recall there were some gluten free cakes too, which were appreciated.
A Fun Day Out for All
“The whole visit was wonderful, so it’s quite difficult to pick out a favourite part. The moment I recall the most vividly was watching the cows graze under the trees, before appreciating the orangery from a different perspective in the field.
“I’d definitely recommend the Hall to anyone. I’ve taken family there and always rave about it to colleagues and friends. I often get complimented on the photos I’ve taken around the grounds, which I’m more than happy to tell them were taken at Blickling. I think it’s a very special place, well worth the travel time to get there and great value for money.”
A Homemade Jewellery Business
Stacy also runs her own online jewellery business, Annastacia by Stacy, and has plans to one day expand into North Norfolk.
“I began making jewellery as a hobby 6 years ago with a friend, as a way of winding down at the end of the week. I ended up creating so much that I donated a huge box to a local charity and the lady suggested I sell it as a way of affording new supplies. I began taking my jewellery to craft fairs and had a number of sales, so 3 years ago I decided to set up as a small hobby business running a website and marketing my jewellery. As well as the enjoyment of making the jewellery for others, it gives me a good opportunity to practice my photography too.
“I haven’t currently taken my jewellery beyond Lowestoft and Norwich because of the cost of travel, plus the cost of fair fees are higher. I have spoken to some North Norfolk people who have shown an interest in buying some of my pieces though. Ideally I would like to partner with a local coffee shop or store to have a display.”
Stacy would recommend North Norfolk to everyone, whether interested in photography, boutique shops or stately homes, as there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Price and Parking
Adults cost £12.60 and children £6.70 for entry to the whole property, whereas just entrance to the garden is less.
Blickling Estate is a 29 minute drive from the Blakeney Cottage Company HQ in Blakeney. Alternatively there are regular bus services from services from Norwich to Holt and Sheringham, with Aylsham stop 1½ miles from the estate.