In the far east of England in the county of Norfolk lies the Blickling Hall Estate, birth place of one of the most famous women in history – Anne Boleyn. Anne was born here in around 1501, along with her two siblings. The Estate is almost 5,000 acres and makes the perfect day trip destination as there is just so much to do here.
History of Blickling Hall
The original Tudor house was in the possession of John Fastolf before then being owned by Thomas Boleyn, later Earl of Wiltshire. The Tudor house no longer exists though, and the Blickling Hall seen today was built on the ruins of the old Boleyn property in the reign of James I. Interestingly, it was designed by Robert Lyminge, who also designed Hatfield House not too far away in Hertfordshire.
In 1698 the estate passed down to Sir John Hobart, created Earl of Buckinghamshire in 1746. He was responsible for building the Doric Temple in the grounds, as well as extending the park by the purchase of adjacent land. His son remodelled the hall between 1765 and 1785. Although the estate then passed down to his youngest daughter Caroline, the couple died childless and it thus devolved to Caroline’s nephew William Kerr, the 8th Marquess of Lothian, and passed down via the Kerr family until 1940 when it was left in the Marquess’ will to The National Trust.
Interestingly, also during WW2, the house was requisitioned and served as the Officers’ mess of nearby RAF Oulton. There is a room in the house telling their stories.
What to do at Blickling
C. The House & Driveway
The main entrance to the house is truly grand. You can also tour the house, entering through the front door and feeling like royalty as you do. The main stairway that greets you feels imposing, and you can visit the dining rooms, bedrooms and absolutely incredible library. There is also a working kitchen, where a cook makes cakes using the equipment available in the Jacobean era. On the day we visited it was lemon cake.
B. The formal gardens
The formal gardens at the side of the house are absolutely beautiful – well maintained lawns, incredibly pruned roses, perfect symmetry and lots of benches to sit on and take it all in. There is also a walled garden, but at the time I visited it was under renovation.
C. The Lake & Park
There are 500 acres of woodland to explore on the Estate, and a lovely way to see some of it is to take a stroll around the large lake – a full loop will be around 3km. There are lots of friendly birds, especially geese, so be careful if you choose to take a picnic!
D. The Mausoleum
Bizarrely, there is a pyramid shaped mausoleum at Blickling – built in the 1700s and modelled on a Roman magistrate’s tomb. Far from Rome, this one is nestled in the woods on this Norfolk Estate, but it makes for a fun walk trying to find it!
E. The Bucks Arms
There is a cafe at Blickling Hall, but if you want an amazing lunch whilst visiting, then head to The Bucks Arms pub. The menu has so much choice and the food is absolutely delicious. It is one of the nicest pub meals we’ve ever had (and we’ve had a lot!) I had the chicken tikka skewers with curried fries, mango chutney and spiced flatbread. I’m hungry again just hinking about it.
F. Blickling Church & Escape Room
One of the most unique things on offer at Blickling Hall is the opportunity to do the world’s first escape room in a real church, on the Blickling estate. The church itself is beautiful, and on certain days it’s closed to the public for escape rooms to be played. It’s such an incredibly unique experience to play in such a wonderful space – we play quite a lot of escape rooms and the great things about this was that the space is so big it’s not too hot (normally we come out sweating), the storyline is great (get Anne Boleyn married to Henry VIII) and the setting is so unique (puzzles involving stained glass windows, the church font and pews). I’d put it up there as one of the best rooms I’ve ever done – and if you’re interested you can book via History Mystery HERE.
So that’s it for a visit to Blickling Hall. What do you think? As I’ve been saying on the blog all year, it’s been so nice to discover all these parts of England I never even knew existed until recently, and I hope you’re enjoying the England content on here too and aren’t too bored yet! Stay safe and happy travelling everyone.