Fields, sheep, fields, cows, fields, and more fields, I had previously thought were the only things surrounding my university, but recently I discovered that the countryside holds a few surprises in the shape of mansions and manors. In the area, there are several manors (and their beautiful gardens) which are opened to the public. Blickling Hall, about 30 minutes away from UEA, was my first experience of these gems.
Blickling Hall and Estate are outrageously historical. Earliest records of the property date to the 15th century, and close to this time one of the most famous families resided here: the Boleyn family. Anne Boleyn and the two siblings who survived her, Mary and George Boleyn, were all born here at the beginning of the 1500s. It is said that every year, on the date of her execution, Anne appears at the estate carrying her decapitated head. (I’m sure that this ghost tale had something to do with it being voted the most haunted house of Britain in 2007.)
The main building, which is still standing today, was only established in 1620. Sir Henry Hobart, who was a Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, purchased the property in 1616 and then had the manor built on top of the ruins of the Boleyn family’s house. Up until the start of World War II, Blickling Hall was owned by various elites of Norfolk. At the start of the war though, the Royal Air Force requested to employ it as a lodge for those in the service. Blickling Estate was passed over to the National Trust in 1960 and soon after, in 1962, it was opened to the public for visiting.
Aside from the diverse history Blickling Estate has acquired, it has also developed over the years a massive garden and woodland park. In total, Blickling Estate encapsulates 4,777 acres! I certainly did not get to explore all of that area; however, I did investigate the 55 acres of garden directly adjacent to the manor. Despite it being wintertime, the garden was thriving with flora and fauna.
This experience of Norfolk history was enlightening and beautiful! It has inspired me to make plans to visit the other historically-rich manors scattered throughout the county. Blicking Hall opened my eyes to the secrets hiding in the quietest corners of England. Thank you for reading!