Our recent trip to Norfolk took us to the much loved country residence of Her Majesty the Queen, the Sandringham Estate. We went with my parents, who both have restricted mobility, and 23 year old daughter. Everybody loved it. There really is something for everyone. I can understand why the royal family find it such a special place.
A stunning house
Sandringham has always been a royal residence. It was built in 1870 by King Edward and Queen Alexander. Strangely, it manages to feel both luxurious and informal at the same time. Many of the downstairs rooms are regularly used by the family. You almost expect see them sitting on the sofa reading or doing a jigsaw puzzle in the drawing room! It was noticeable how full of light they all were – there wasn’t much dark and dingy dark wood here. It is not as grand as nearby Holkham Hall , but you feel it was built to be a comfortable home rather than to impress.
There was a fabulous collection of jade in the dining room and many splendid royal portraits throughout the house. There are also lots of interesting gifts from overseas heads of state and European royalty, notably two small cannons from Napoleon III. The Great Hall, which the guide told us was sometimes converted into a cinema for the royal family and their guests, has walls lined with a huge collection of Asian arms.
We particularly enjoyed the informal sketches of the royal family enjoying the grounds, tucked away in the corridor to the Great Hall.
I would have loved to have taken some photos inside the house, but unfortunately it isn’t allowed. As with Holkham Hall, the guides all seemed to love their jobs and were very knowledgeable and helpful.
I felt that the most impressive part of the Sandringham Estate were the 60 acres of beautiful gardens. We took the pretty stream walk to Prince Andrew’s residence, York Cottage. The view up to the house from the lake is absolutely stunning.
Queen Alexander had a lovely little summer house built over the second lake, surrounded by a rockery. It was a riot of colour when we visited last month. I particularly enjoyed the big gold Buddha statue at the end of a little tree lined walk near the house.
Unfortunately we missed the walled garden, which can only be visited as part of a pre-booked tour. They are currently growing produce for use in the restaurant. Next time!
Mr S loves vintage and classic cars, so he was in his element in the museum. It houses a large collection of royal vehicles, including working miniatures the children played in and a very impressive fire engine. The Daimler appears to have been favourite and there are several fine examples.
The museum also houses a large collection of commemorative china, as well as tiles from the now demolished Sandringham dairy. Next to the museum is a very sweet tea room, where we enjoyed some tea and cake to revive us.
The great thing about the Sandringham Estate is, if you are on a tight budget, you don’t even have to pay to wander round the 600 acre country park. It is also free to park your car. We didn’t explore as my parents can’t walk miles and the house, gardens and museum was enough for us. Another time we will for sure. There appeared to be lots of locals walking their dogs, popping into the visitor centre and using the restaurant.
There are two nature trails and a sculpture trail in the country park, or you can take a scenic drive.
it costs £16.50 per adult to visit the Sandringham Estate, including the house, museum and gardens. Children’s entry is £8 and concessions are available. The house is fully wheelchair accessible. Full information is available on the Sandringham Estate website.