Photo gallery: What lies behind the doors of Norfolk’s historic National Trust properties

PUBLISHED: 10:58 30 March 2014 | UPDATED: 10:58 30 March 2014

Oxburgh Hall.

Oxburgh Hall.


With all the region’s National Trust properties welcoming visitors again for the new season from this week, Simon Parkin discovers what lies behind the historic doors and looks at what activities and special events they have planned.

Sheringham Park. Sheringham Park.

Blickling Hall

Blickling, near Aylsham, house open Wed-Mon 12pm-5pm, gardens open daily 10.15am-5.30pm, house and garden admission £12.15, £6.50 children, £31.50 family, 01263 738030,

Built in the early 17th century, Blickling Hall is one of England’s great Jacobean houses. The estate was once the home of the Boleyn family, and now encompasses nearly 5,000 acres. The spectacular Long Gallery houses one of the finest private collections of rare books in England, and you can view fine Mortlake tapestries, intricate plasterwork ceilings, an excellent collection of furniture and paintings, as well as the newly re-stored 19th-century Hungerford Pollen painted ceiling. Outside the glorious gardens are beautiful all year round — with thousands of spring bulbs, swathes of bluebells and vibrant summer borders. The hall is set in an historic park with miles of beautiful woodland and lakeside walks. Hire a bike, take a Segway tour (£20, 01603 898839) or grab a map of way-marked walks and head out into the park.


Bluebell Walk (April 30-May 4)

Blickling Farm Walk (May 3)

Ghost Evening (May 19)

Spring Fair (May 24-26)

Estate Cycle Ride (June 15)

Oxburgh Hall

Oxborough, near Swaffham, house open Sat-Wed 11am-5pm, garden open Sat-Wed 10.3am-5pm, house and garden admission £8.50, £4.25 children, £21.25 family, 01366 328258,

Oxburgh’s secret doors and priest’s hole make this a house of mystery and history. Built by the Bedingfeld family in the 15th century, they have lived here ever since, this stunning red-brick house charts their history from medieval austerity to neo-Gothic Victorian comfort. As well as early Mortlake tapestries in the Queen’s Room, Oxburgh houses beautiful embroidered hangings by Mary, Queen of Scots, and Bess of Hardwick. Panoramic views from the gatehouse roof look out over the Victorian French parterre, walled orchard, kitchen garden and a Catholic chapel. . It currently is staging the Peeling Back the Layers of the Past exhibition, showcasing a remarkable collection of wallpaper samples, their stunning colours and designs, and the research project to investigate the origins of these papers, which date from the mid-1700s onwards.


Easter Egg Trail (April 19-21)

Bat Walk (May 9)

Costume Weekend (May 10-11)

Dawn Chorus Walk (May 11)

Scarecrow Fest (May 24-June 18)

Horsey Windpump

Horsey, off B1159, from March 29 normally open daily 10am-4.30pm, £2.50 adult, £1 children, 01263 740241,

Standing at the closest point the Broads come to the sea, Horsey Windpump is surrounded by internationally important Broads wildlife habitats. From the top you get stunning views of Horsey Mere and across the broadland landscape to the coast. During the great gales of 1987 it succumbed to the extreme weather conditions and the cap was severely damaged and it only reopened to the public in 1990. Sadly access and viewing is again restricted due to damage caused by this winter’s storms, but hopefully it will re-open shortly.

Sheringham Park

Upper Sheringham, open daily dawn to dusk, free admission, charge for car parking for non-members, 01263 820550,

With fabulous displays of rhododendrons and azaleas and viewing towers providing amazing views, Sheringham Park is one of the finest examples of the work of renowned author and landscape designer Humphry Repton. Stroll along the paths through woodland and parkland or follow the ‘Tree Trail’ to discover some rare and unusual trees and discover the new additions to the exhibition, including more information about Repton.


Easter Egg Trail (April 5-9)

Animal Tracking (April 9)

Tadpole Watch (April 10-11)

Adder Adventure (April 15-August)

Rockpool Ranger (April 16-August)

Dawn Chorus Walk (May 4)

Archaeology Walk (May 11)

Felbrigg Hall

Felbrigg, near Cromer, signposted from A148 and A140, house open Sat-Wed 11am-5pm, garden open daily 11am-5.30pm, house and garden admission £9.45, £4.45 children, £23.40 family, 01263 837444,

Truly a hidden gem, Felbrigg is one of the most elegant, but most under-rated country houses in East Anglia. The house, its contents, and estate was left to the National Trust by Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer, the last Squire of Felbrigg Hall, who died in 1969. It boasts a fine gothic style library and a magnificent collection of Grand Tour paintings. Outside, the decorative and productive walled garden is a gardener’s delight. See the imposing double borders; the beehives in the orchard and the bantams, peacocks and guinea fowl. Don’t miss the magnificent redwood trees in the west garden. Felbrigg has one of the few octagonal working dovecotes in the country, dating back to the early 1750s.


Easter Egg Hunt (April 18-21)

Ickworth House

The Rotunda, Horringer, Bury St Edmunds, open daily (except Wed) various times, house and garden admission £12.60, £6.35 children, £31.55 family, 01284 735270,

Ickworth’s impressive huge central Rotunda - a magnificent showcase commissioned by the 4th Earl of Bristol to house his priceless treasures collected on tours around Europe in the 18th-century - is an architectural marvel. For 200 years, the eccentric, and sometimes infamous, Hervey family added to the treasures inside and out, also creating the earliest Italianate garden in England. The exquisite craftmanship of the finest Hugenot silversmiths is breathtaking, and you can follow the family’s history through outstanding portraits by Gainsborough, Hogarth and Reynolds, as well as Huguenot and ambassadorial silver and Regency furniture. Ickworth bursts into life in springtime with beautiful displays of spring flowers, rare daffodils and magnolias. There is currently the opportunity to watch hundreds of young lambs take their first steps in the park.


Books In The Spotlight (April 3)

Conservation In Action (April 8/22)

95th Rifles Road to Waterloo (April 12-13)

Easter Egg Trails (April 20-21)

Hoohaah Charity 10km Run (April 27)

Bat Walk (May 27)

Mid-Summer Concert (June 20)

Blakeney National Nature Reserve

Morston Quay, Quay Road, Morston, reserve open daily, Lifeboat House from March 31 open dawn to dusk, 01263 740241,

Wide open spaces and uninterrupted views of the natural and dynamic coastline make a visit to Blakeney inspiring at any time of the year. Blakeney Point, within Blakeney National Nature Reserve, is a four-mile-long sand and shingle spit, It forms a rare habitat valuable for unusual plants, inscects, birds and seals. The saltmarsh, mudflats, sand dunes and shingle ridge are all in a constant state of flux, adapting to the forces of nature shaping this ever changing coastline Unfortunately due to the tidal flooding a number of visitor facilities ihave been badly damaged. The Lifeboat House on Blakeney Point is closed until April during refurbishment work.


Refreshing Walk (April 12)

50 Things Thursdays (April 17-August)

Dip Your Toes Into Wildlife (May 10)

50 Things Adventure Weekend (May 25)

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