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Blickling Hall, Norfolk

Blickling Hall by Barbara Ballard Blickling Hall was originally a late medieval moated house. When purchased in 1616 by a new owner, Sir Henry Hobart, he built a new house on the site which was finished in 1628.

Blickling Hall by Barbara Ballard The house remained as it was due to lack of finances from this date until the early 1700s when a new owner, the 2nd earl of Buckinghamshire, had the Tudor buildings on the north front demolished. He kept the principal rooms that Hobart built and replaced the demolished ones with a Georgian façade building. The west front dates from 1767, but its façade was rebuilt in the 1860s. The north front dates from 1779.

Blickling Hall by Barbara Ballard Sir Henry Hobart’s mark can be seen on the entrance arch where his coat of arms and those of other family members are carved. The outer courtyard leads into the great hall, much changed by the 2nd earl. He raised the roof and put in a great staircase and even moved the front wall of the house forward. The south front of the entrance court has a timber clock tower dating from 1828 and designed by John Repton. At one time the east wing held stables, cellars, and a buttery.

Blickling Hall topiary by Barbara Ballard Blickling Hall bluebells by Barbara Ballard The park in which Blickling Hall is located dates from medieval times. Features include a lake, a mount on the north bank, a plantation of beech, and a garden much changed over the centuries. A border and square herbaceous beds are two features of the garden. There is a yew circle, secret garden, walled garden, woodland dell, and park area. In the spring bluebells and bulbs bloom. There are lakeside walks.

An orangery built in 1782 may be by Samuel Wyatt. It now contains hardy plants. Two other buildings in the grounds are the pyramidal mausoleum built in 1793 and a Doric temple dating from c1730, sited on a terrace. It is framed by two woodland gardens.

Tour of the House

Ground Floor

Great Hall: carved timbers and newel figures on the staircase; on the staircase wall are reliefs of Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I (The house once belonged to the Boleyn family); window on the staircase has 15th and 16th century stained glass from Germany and Flanders; portraits of the Hobart family and others hang on the walls.
Brown Drawing Room: served as a chapel for Sir Henry; carved angels on fireplace; pictures of early 1600s court; portraits.
Lower Ante-room: once a staircase room; Brussels tapestries date from c1700.
Dining Room: once served as a parlour but converted by the 2nd earl; done in the Gothic style; chestnut panelling; 1627 fireplace; dining table and side chairs from the 1700s.
Serving Room: in late 1600s this was a small parlour; stairs lead from here to basement corridor, through kitchen and up to first floor.

First Floor:

O Room: portraits on the wall.
Print Room: prints dating from before 1800.
West Turret Bedroom and Bathroom: plasterwork ceiling; late 17th century crewel work bed hangings.
Chinese Dressing Room and Bedroom: family portraits; bedroom was withdrawing chamber in Jacobean times; divided into two rooms in 1760s; rococo plasterwork and Chinese wallpaper; 18th century wardrobe with green and white japanning; Axminster carpet.
South Drawing Room: once the Jacobean great chamber; Jacobean plasterwork ceiling; original fireplace; dado panelling and doorcases date from 1700s; paintings.
Upper Ante-room: plaster ceiling; doorcases from 1767; 17th century tapestries.
Staircase Gallery: 1620 stone doorways; portraits.

Second Floor:

Long Gallery: built in 1620; turned into library in 1745; 12,000 rare books; decorated ceiling with panels.
Peter the Great Room: built 1779; tapestry of Peter the Great presented by Catherine the Great to 2nd earl; Regency gilt pier tables; chandelier; carpet dates from 1779; wool and silk damask on walls.
State bedroom: late 1700s room; pier glasses and picture frames; frieze with gilding; state bed with crimson hangings; Axminster carpet; chairs, pier table, French commode and chests of drawers from 1700s.
Document Room: once the bedroom of the 11th marquis; rotating exhibition of the library books.

Visitor Information

Blickling Hall
Blickling, Norwich, 1.5 miles north-west of Aylsham
Norfolk, Eastern Counties
Tel. 0 1263 738 030
Open: house: mid Feb for one week, daily, 11am-3.30pm; first two weeks March, weekends, 11am-3pm; mid March-end Oct, Wed-Sun, noon-5pm; 2nd week Nov-end Nov, weekends, 11am-2pm, second week December-21 Dec, weekends, 11am-5pm; park, year round, daily, dawn-dusk; garden, shop, cafes: first week Jan, Thu-Mon, 10.15 am-4pm; rest Jan-mid Feb, Thu-Sun, 10..15-3pm; mid Feb-end Oct, daily, 10.15am-5.30pm; Nov-21 Dec, Thu-Sun, 10.15 am-4pm
National Trust property; restaurant; special events; shop; plant sales; parking

Photos and text © by Barbara Ballard. The National Trust did not allow interior photos when we visited.

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