Second-hand stamps will help Blickling Hall garden grow

The humble stamp is being harnessed by National Trust volunteers in north Norfolk to bring a historic garden back to its former growing glory.

Staff at Blickling Hall have opened a new second-hand stamp shop and the sale of its colourful, quirky and intricately designed items are hoped to pay for the �100,000 restoration of the estate's walled garden.

The shop has been stocked with more than 150,000 stamps ranging from rare designs such as the Penny Black of 1840 to the most recently issued as well as collections from all over the world, including some from countries off the beaten track - such as the Democratic Republic of S�o Tom� and Pr�ncipe, an island off the African coast.

David Musson, from Sheringham, has spearheaded the shop scheme having established Blickling's highly successful second-hand bookshop in 1999.

Since it opened the bookshop has raised thousands of pounds for the National Trust and Mr Musson, 76, a former regional director with the heritage charity, hopes the stamp enterprise will do the same.

He said: 'Stamp-collecting has been a real passion of mine since I was a seven-year-old boy.

'The bookshop has been a huge success over the years and I hope the stamp shop will be as well. We need to raise a lot of money to help restore the walled garden back to its former glory, so it may take some time but hopefully we'll get there.'

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The National Trust is keen to return a working fruit and vegetable garden to the heart of the Blickling estate, to provide visitors with truly local produce. In the 1930s the walled garden provided owner Lord Lothian with all the fruit, vegetables and cut flowers the estate and its guests needed.

All the stamps currently on sale have been donated by supporters of the trust but Mr Musson is appealing for more stock - and volunteers to help him run the shop.

He said: 'We would like stamps in any decent condition from any period, any country, any age, any subject. I'm particularly keen to hear from people looking to donate collections they no longer want.'

And he only has one requirement for budding helpers - a love and knowledge of stamps.

? The shop is open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 4pm. For more information call 01263 738019.