Stunning tree top views of North Norfolk
The recently reopened Sheringham Park Gazebo provides a breath-taking panorama of the local landscape, woodlands and even the sea beyond
Located on the Northern edge of the National Trust owned Sheringham Park, the gazebo had been a favourite of visitors for over 30 years when the structure was sadly forced to close due to structural concerns in May 2021. But, thanks to the work of a skilled refurbishment team, this impressive tower can now welcome visitors to enjoy a birds-eye view once again.
The gazebo rises above the canopy of Oak Wood and looks along the coastline as far as the eye can see. To enjoy these extensive views visitors must ascend the hillside and then climb the 60 steps of the tower. “It really is quite breath-taking,” says Ella Akinlade, National Trust General Manager. “You have the Weybourne windmill in view and if you’re lucky you can see the steam train trundling along between Sheringham and Holt. It’s really one of the best views of the coast.”
While the views are magnificent, many who have visited Sheringham Park also discover a strong emotional connection there which makes it really special. “The human stories connected to the gazebo are also really important,” Ella explains. “Ever since we reopened the gazebo, people have been telling us how delighted they are because going to the top reminds them of special moments. We know of two couples who became engaged at the top of it. That’s why we felt that it was so important to get it back open again; because of the joy that it brings to so many people.”
The refurbishment of the Sheringham Park Gazebo was coordinated by National Trust Building Surveyor David Mizon. “The gazebo is an open structure, steel framed with timber cladding,” says David. “When we commissioned a maintenance report from structural engineers Rossi Long Consulting Ltd, they highlighted a number of decay issues. Junctions in the steel framing were rusting away where water had become trapped, some of the timber structure had rotted and the balustrading, steps and handrails had all suffered from 34 years of exposure.”
Repairing the identified issues required some intricate planning as the structure couldn’t be taken apart to access the junctions that needed repairing and the height of the structure meant that scaffolding was needed. “It took some inventive planning to create the design details,” David explains, “but the process in the end was quite straightforward and, with the hard work of Bawburgh Installations Ltd, who completed the construction, it went very well.”
The gazebo had originally been erected in 1988 and was a gift to the estate by Mildred Cordeaux. Although it was not a feature of the original park design, Mildred remembered an old viewing structure in the same location during her childhood.
The Sheringham Park estate in which the gazebo sits is a designed landscape created in the early 1800’s by famous landscape designer Humphry Repton. “The way he designed it means it just unfolds before your eyes,” describes Ella. “You walk down the main drive and discover these ‘glimpse points’ where you can capture the seaside beyond. Then suddenly you get to ‘The Turn’ and the whole estate is revealed to you, including the hall.”
In addition to the much-loved gazebo, the estate has two further viewing towers situated in the Wild Garden, overlooking a carpet of rhododendrons for which the park is also famed. “In May the Rhododendrons flower profusely and create a stunning sea of colour,” Ella smiles. “The Wild Garden has all sorts of really diverse specimen plants collected by Ernest Henry Wilson, including the rhododendrons, camellias and the wonderful handkerchief tree. It’s a very peaceful and magical spot which takes you to a different place.”
The National Trust welcomes visitors to Sheringham Park every day from dawn until dusk. Trust members can visit for free while non-members are asked only to pay for car parking. The park is perfect for family walks with lots to see and a fleet of mobility scooters are popular for those who would otherwise find the hill difficult. A small café and second-hand book shop are also on site alongside a learning centre visited by around 5000 school children annually.
“I love that you can have your mind full of things but when you visit Sheringham Park you are transported to somewhere other,” says Ella. “The wonderful gazebo gives such a different perspective of the rolling Humphry Repton landscape below. It is a place good for the soul.”