What more could you want from a Norfolk country estate? A beautiful house, a colourful history, a nationally-important library, stunning woodland walks, lovely gardens, a 45ft tall pyramid, a military museum and one of the best second-hand bookshops in Norfolk. And that’s just for starters.
Blickling eventually passed into the hands of Thomas Boleyn and his wife Elizabeth, and it was there that the couple’s three children were born - including the ill-fated Anne.
You can still see a portrait of Henry VIII’s future second wife at Blickling with the inscription ‘Anna Bolena hic nata 1507’ - although the exact date (and place) of her birth is hotly debated. Regardless, Anne’s ghost is reputedly one of the estate’s most frequent visitors.
Whether she was born there or not, Anne Boleyn wouldn’t recognise Blickling Hall today. The stunning house we enjoy now was built on the ruins of the older property by Sir Henry Hobart and the architect Robert Lyminge (of Hatfield House fame) and when the last private owner of Blicking died in 1940, the estate passed into the care of the National Trust, who began the painstaking work of restoring the house and grounds and finally opened it to the public in 1962.
As if the house and grounds weren’t grand enough, the library at Blickling contains one of the most historically significant collections of manuscripts and books in the whole of England. The most important are the ‘Blickling Homilies’ (the earliest existing example of such writing) and the 8th century ‘Lothian Psalter’ - which is now owned by the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City.
Outside, the estate covers almost 5,000 acres and is actively managed by the National Trust to provide much-needed income to support the house, gardens, park and woods.
Whatever you do (and there’s plenty to choose from) don’t miss the extraordinary mausoleum built in 1793 for the remains of John Hobart and his two wives. Made of 190,000 Portland stone blocks, it’s probably the only pyramid in Norfolk!