10 places to see snowdrops in Norfolk and Suffolk
- Credit: Ian Burt
Find drifts of sparkling snowdrops everywhere from grand gardens to country churchyards, for free, for charity and for fun
1 Raveningham Gardens, near Beccles, will be showing off swathes of snowdrops every day (except Saturdays) through February. Raveningham Hall is the home of Sir Nicholas and Lady Bacon and it was Sir Nicholas' mother, Priscilla Bacon, who added snowdrops to the garden. On Sundays, February 11 and February 18 all proceeds go to Priscilla Bacon Lodge Hospice in Norwich, and there are also guided tours of the snowdrops on February 11.
The tearooms will be serving soup, homemade cakes and light refreshments. Admission £5, under 16s free.
2 At Walsingham, between Fakenham and Wells, dazzling drifts of snowdrops carpet 18 acres of woodland and river bank. The beautiful grounds include the ruins of the ancient Abbey and have been a place of peace and pilgrimage for centuries. Open daily until March 4, 10am-4pm. Admission £5, children over five £2.50. www.walsinghamabbey.com
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3 Several gardens with stunning displays of snowdrops will be open in aid of the National Gardens Scheme charities.
See winter flowering shrubs as well as swathes of snowdrops in the woodland and riverside garden at Horstead House, near Coltishall, open in aid of the scheme on Saturday, February 17, 11am-4pm. Admission £4, children free. Home-made teas refreshments in aid of Horstead Church.
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Gable House, Beccles, opens in aid of the National Gardens Scheme and St Peter's Church, Redisham, on Sunday, February 18, 11am-4.30pm, admission £4, children free. Home-made teas and soup, and bulb and plant sales.
At Bagthorpe Hall, near Fakenham, snowdrops carpet a circular woodland walk. It will be open in aid of the National Gardens Scheme charities on Sunday, February 25, 11am-4pm. Admission £4, children free. Home-made teas and soups made with organic vegetables from the farm.
Chestnut Farm, West Beckham, near Holt, has more than 90 different types of snowdrops, most planted by the artist owners over more than 50 years. It will be open in aid of the National Gardens Scheme charities on Sundays February 25 and March 4, 11am-4pm, Admission £5, children free. Light refreshments. www.ngs.org.uk
4 Snowdrops are often associated with churchyards. At St Margaret, Thorpe Market, near Cromer, there are Snowdrop Sundays from noon-4pm throughout February with art shows, plant sales and afternoon teas. And St Peter's, Spixworth, near Norwich, has Snowdrop Sundays from from 11am-4pm on February 18 and March 4.
5 Several of our National Trust estates have stunning snowdrop walks. See the Upcher snowdrops at Sheringham Park, named for the family who once owned the land. Parkland at Ickworth House, near Bury St Edmunds, and the winter gardens at Blickling Hall, near Aylsham, are alight with snowdrops at this time of year. Snowdrop walks at Oxburgh Hall, near Swaffham, begin on Saturday, February 3 and are free with normal admission. Each walk lasts around an hour and a half from 11.30am and 2pm on February 3-4, 10-18, 24-25, and March 3-4 and 10-11. www.nationaltrust.org.uk
6 See snowdrops for free from the paths meandering through the Thornham estate, north Suffolk. There are 12 miles of walks through the woods, water meadows and parkland, plus a walled garden and café. www.thornhamestate.com
7 Lexham Hall, between Swaffham and Fakenham, invites visitors to see its snowdrops in aid of charity. Snowdrops and aconites blossom throughout its woods and woodland gardens and in the lakeside American garden. On Sunday, February 11, it will be open in aid of St Andrew's church, East Lexham and All Saints church, Litcham and on Sunday, February 18, it will be open in aid of the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind. 11-4pm, Admission £6, children free. Refreshments and plants for sale. lexhamestate.co.uk
8 The Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Bradfield Woods, near Bury St Edmunds is one of the finest examples of ancient forest in Britain and visitors this month can enjoy drifts of snowdrops too. www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org
9 Brinton Hall, near Holt, has a snowdrop theatre. Walk through the lovely gardens and parkland to a beautiful viewing spot ideal for close-up appreciation of the fragile flowers. Its snowdrop tour on Friday, February 23 includes lunch. Book through Invitation to View at www.invitationtoview.co.uk
10 Become a galloping galanthophile with these snowdrop facts:
A galanthophile, from galanthus, the Latin for snowdrop, is a lover of snowdrops.
There are just 20 species of wild snowdrop in the world – but around 2,000 cultivated varieties.
Snowdrops cannot be taken across international borders without special permits.
Monks are believed to have planted snowdrops, also known as candlemass bells, as symbols of purity and renewal.
In the mid 19th century many young men of the manors and halls of the landed gentry found themselves fighting in the rugged hills of modern-day Ukraine, as the British, French, Ottoman and Russian empires clashed in the Crimean War. Snowdrops grew wild near the battlegrounds and soldiers collected bulbs to bring home, partly because of their fragile beauty amongst so much hardship, and partly to remember fallen comrades. Today they are frequently found in English country churchyards, as well as in the gardens of our great houses.