See also Holkham Hall Beach
Holkham Hall, an 18th century yellow brick Palladian mansion, sits in a 3000 acre deer park complete with a lake. The fountain in the grounds dates from 1849-1857 and was created by Charles Raymond Smith. It portrays St George and the dragon. In the grounds is an obelisk completed in 1732 and an early 17th century ice house. An orangery, statuary, Victorian beds, and balustrading were the second Earl’s projects. In addition to the 300 deer in the park there are many species of birds.
The house was begun in 1734 by Thomas Coke, named the first Earl of Leicester in 1744. He made the grand tour of Europe and collected paintings, sculptures, and books. Cook planned the house to provide a showcase for the collections. Unfortunately he died before its completion in 1762. However, the house and park have stayed in the Coke family since it was first built. William Kent was the architect and builder. The central block of the house has 12 staterooms. A family wing held the private rooms while the children were housed in the Chapel Wing and guests in the Strangers Wing.
The marble hall reflects the architectural designs of Andrea Palladio while the ceiling mimics one of Inigo Jones’s designs. Fluted columns are bisected by a set of marble stairs. Statues and two Yung Chang vases decorate the hall.
The north dining room, at one time a state bedchamber apartment, is a 27 foot cube with an apse added. It has a number of portraits on the walls. The landscape room has paintings of landscapes on the walls up to the ceiling height.
The dining room carpet is Axminster and copies the ceiling pattern. On the dining table is a silver candelabrum with an ostrich on top. The ostrich is the family crest. An unusual table in the apse has a green Egyptian marble top and legs made from an ancient sarcophagus.
The statue gallery and tribunes are two rooms 105 feet long that house the collection of classical marble sculpture collected by the first Earl. In the south Tribune room are shelves with a collection of folios of the library.
The drawing room furniture was designed by the architect Kent for the room. The walls are hung with cut red velvet. Pictures and portraits hang on the walls. The saloon also has red velvet walls. The chimneypieces are of Sicilian marble. Carved gilt side tables have legs designed as ostriches. A picture of the holy family by Rubens hangs on the wall.
The green state bedroom is the main bedroom. Queen Victoria and King George V were both guests here. Tapestries on the walls represent the four continents: Africa, Asia, Europe, and America. There are pictures on the walls. The bed and furniture were designed by Kent. The cabinets are Regency. The green state and north state dressing rooms are named for the green silk damask on the walls. In them is a collection of Italian renaissance paintings.
The north state bedroom has family portraits on the walls and a gilded four poster bed. The state sitting room was once a dressing room. 17th century Brussels tapestries hang on the walls. Carved giltwood furniture designed by Kent is upholstered with red silk damask.
The old kitchen has a collection of kitchen utensils used over the many years of the house’s existence. There are a large number of copper moulds, saucepans, tureens, and pewter serving dishes. There is an enormous cast iron range.
Two rooms of note are the library (the entire west front of the family wing) and the chapel decorated in Derbyshire alabaster.
The private apartments are not open to the public.
St Withburga’s church in the grounds is located a half mile from Holkham Hall. The tower is 13th century with restorations.
In the original stables, built in the 1860s, is the Bygones Museum which holds a large collection of social, agricultural and domestic artefacts, mainly dating from the Victorian period to the mid 1900s. There is also a collection of vintage cars, tractors and some rare steam engines.
Across the main road running in front of the estate is the huge sandy beach complete with dunes shown in the film ‘Shakespeare in Love’.
Tel. 0 1328 710 227 (infoline)
Historic Houses Association member
Open: hall: April-end Oct, Sun, Mon, and Thu, noon-4pm; Bygones Museum, walled garden, gift shop, Stables Café: April-end Oct, daily, 10am-5pm; Park: April-end Oct, 9am-5pm; hotel; pub; holiday park; plant nursery; self-catering; parking; events; lake cruise
Allow a full day to visit the hall, its attractions, and the beach.
Web: Holkham Hall
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