A visit to Holkham Hall

We took a brief holiday in north Norfolk to visit Holkham Hall, and to go to the East Anglian Game Show. Much as I had been looking forward to them, both exceeded my expectations – really superb days out.

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The house itself wasn’t open on the day that we went, so we focused on the farming exhibition and the walled garden. The farming exhibition reflects, of course, the pioneering agricultural work done by the 1st Earl of Leicester, known during most of his life as “Mr Coke of Norfolk”, and continues up to the present day with the restoration work carried on by the 8th Earl.

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It’s a jewel of an exhibition, made in the best style of modern museums, with plenty to do as well as to see. Here we have a picture of Mr Coke’s famous annual sheep shearing …

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… an interactive display about crop rotation …

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… and a quirky exhibit of bowler hats and Holkham tweeds which you can try on.

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We were glad of a buggy ride from the hall to the walled garden half a mile away, for it was a bitterly cold day.

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The effectiveness of the walled garden was immediately apparent, for once inside we were sheltered from the wind, and noticeably warmed by the retained heat of the walls. The garden is divided into sections, so until you walk all around it, you don’t realise its sheer size. There are six acres of beds, orchards, cold frames and greenhouses. Apparently it isn’t the largest in England, but it’s a good contender. It must have been hugely productive in its heyday, for orchard fruit, flowers, vegetables and exotics like pineapples and nectarines for the dining tables at Holkham Hall.

Some is actively being restored, especially the great glasshouses …

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… and these ancient mulberry trees being coaxed back to life …

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… some has been completed and is in production, like these walled cold frames …

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… and a newly planted vineyard …

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And naturally we took a few pictures to provide inspiration for ourselves.

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I think there may well be a runner bean yurt at our allotment in the near future!

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