View from the garden of Blickling Hall in Norfolk, England.
|Region||East of England|
|Founded||Built in 1616|
|Owner||in the care of the National Trust|
|Visitation||accessible to the public with a fee (All year round)|
In the 15th century, Blickling Hall was in the possession of Sir John Fastolf of Caister in Norfolk (1380–1459), who made a fortune in the Hundred Years' War, and whose coat of arms is still on display there. Later, the Hall was in the possession of the Boleyn family, and home to Sir Thomas Boleyn, created Earl of Wiltshire, and his wife, Elizabeth, between 1499 and 1505. It is presumed that their first two children Mary and George were born at Blickling Hall, along with several other Boleyn infants who did not live long. If the couple's most famous child, Anne Boleyn, was born before 1505 (as one school of historical thought contends) then she too was born at Blickling. Other historians maintain that Anne was born after 1505, probably in 1507, and by that time Sir Thomas had moved to Hever Castle in Kent. Nonetheless, a statue and portrait of Anne Boleyn reside in Blickling Hall claiming "Anna Bolena hic nata 1507" (Anne Boleyn born here 1507).
The current Blickling Hall was built on the ruins of the old Boleyn property in the reign of James I, by Sir Henry Hobart, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas and 1st Baronet, who bought Blickling from Robert Clere in 1616. The architect of Hatfield House, Robert Lyminge, is credited with the design of the current structure. The Lord Chief Justice married Dorothy, the daughter of Sir Robert Bell of Beaupre Hall, Outwell/Upwell, Norfolk, Speaker of the House of Commons 1572–1576. A grand display of heraldic material is present throughout the estate.
In the 20th century
During World War II the house was requisitioned and served as the Officers Mess of nearby RAF Oulton. It was at this time that the house and its estate passed to The National Trust, under the terms of the Country Houses Scheme.
At the end of the war, the house was de-requisitioned. The National Trust again let it to tenants until 1960, when the Trust began the work to restore the house to a style reflecting its history. The house and grounds were opened to the public in 1962 and remain open under the name "Blickling Hall, Garden & Park".
The library at Blickling Hall contained and still contains one of the most historically significant collections of manuscripts and books in England. The most important manuscript associated with the house is the Blickling Homilies, which is one of the earliest extant examples of English vernacular homiletic writings. The Blickling homilies were first edited and translated in the 19th century by Richard Morris (Early English Text Society os 58, 63 & 73) and there is a more recent edition and translation by Richard J. Kelly (Continuum, 2003).
In popular culture
It is said that every year, on the anniversary of her execution, Anne Boleyn's headless ghost arrives at Blickling Hall in a carriage driven by an equally headless coachman. But she hasn't lost her head completely in the afterlife—she carries it along with her during her hauntings.
It was voted the most haunted house in Britain in a National Trust survey in October 2007.
The Blickling estate
The estate covers 4,777 acres (1,933 ha) and includes: 500 acres (200 ha) of woodland, 450 acres (180 ha) of parkland and 3,500 acres (1,400 ha) of farmland. Much of it is classified as Grade 2 and 3 agricultural land which is actively managed by the National Trust to provide income to support the house, gardens, park and woods.
A house and garden existed at Blickling before the estate was purchased by the Boleyn family in the 1450s, but no records survive to give an indication of their appearance. After Sir Henry Hobart acquired the estate in 1616, he remodelled the gardens to include ponds, wilderness and a parterre. A garden mount– an artificial hill in Blickling's flat landscape, was made to provide views of the new garden. With the accession of Sir John Hobart (later the 1st Earl of Buckingham) in 1698 the garden was expanded to add a new wilderness and the temple was constructed.
In the latter half of the 18th century John Hobart, 2nd Earl of Buckingham, embarked on works that would radically change the appearance of the gardens. All traces of formality were removed, and naturally arranged clumps of trees were planted to create a landscape garden. By the 1780s an orangery had been built to overwinter tender citrus trees. Following the 2nd Earl's death in 1793, his youngest daughter Caroline, Lady Suffield, employed landscape gardener Humphry Repton and his son John Adey Repton to advise on garden matters. John Adey Repton would go on to provide designs for many garden features. The estate was inherited by nine-year-old William Schomberg Robert Kerr, 8th Marquess of Lothian in 1840. He later re-introduced the formality and colour schemes of the parterre. After his death at the age of 38, responsibility for the gardens rested with Lady Lothian and her head gardener Mr Lyon. Philip Henry Kerr, 11th Marquis of Lothian, inherited the estate in 1930. After disparaging comments in a publication of Country Life, Lothian engaged socialite gardener Norah Lindsay to remodel the gardens. In the parterre she replaced the jumble of minuscule flower beds with four large square beds planted with a mixture of herbaceous plants in graduated and harmonious colours. Other improvements included removal of a line of conifers in the Temple walk, which were replaced with plantings of azaleas.
The garden today
The garden at Blickling covers 55 acres (22 ha)  and contains formal and informal gardens, Grade II listed buildings and structures, woodland, specimen trees, Victorian garden ornaments, topiary, the kitchen garden (open to the public (2010), and 18th century yew hedges.
The lawns which frame the main approach to the hall are bounded by yew hedges which were first recorded by William Freeman of Hamels in 1745. Surrounding the hall on three sides is the dry Moat. The plantings in the moist, sheltered conditions of the moat were considerably revised by Lindsay who introduced hosta, species of hydrangea, buddleia and rosemary. To the rear of the hall is the noted Parterre garden which is located on the east lawn. Originally created as a Victorian sunken garden it was remodelled by Lindsay in the early 1930s. Set around an 18th-century listed stone fountain, she divided the garden into four large, colourful herbaceous beds surrounded by L shaped borders stocked with roses and catmint with an acorn shaped yew marking each corner. In the terraces above the parterre there are plantings of peony, seasonal beds and the Double Borders created in 2006, contain a wide variety of perennials, shrubs and grasses with colours ranging from hot to cool. Close by, are the White and Black Borders which were established in 2009, together with a collection of elaeagnus. The western side of the garden features the lawned Acre which is fringed by a spreading oriental plane tree. Outdoor sports such as croquet are played here in the summer months. Further highlights are a collection of magnolia underplanted with autumn cyclamen, the shell fountain and the kitchen garden. To the north of the parterre is the Wilderness garden which is bisected by radial grassed avenues flanked with turkey oak, lime and beech trees and naturalised bulbs. The wilderness hides a Secret Garden with a summerhouse, scented plants and a central sundial. Nearby is the listed 18th century orangery which houses a collection of citrus trees. Adjacent, to the building is the steep sided Dell which is home to many woodland plants including a selection of hellebore and foxglove. In 2009, an area of woodland was cleared close to the orangery to create a new garden. Stocked with a wide range of woodland plants including camellia and varieties of mahonia. Opened in 2010, it will be known as the Orangery Garden. The Grade II listed Temple is approached by the Temple walk which is lined with azalea planted by Lindsay in her original 1930s design. Scattered throughout the garden are many garden ornaments including thirty pieces supplied to Lady Lothian in 1877 by Austin & Seeley of Euston Road, London. Future projects include the creation of a philadelphus and rose garden. Both of which will be located in the Wilderness and open to the public in the near future.
- This volume is now housed in the Firestone Library at Princeton University (MS. 71, s.x/xi) and privately owned by the Scheide family who reside in New Jersey.
- Charlene profile Retrieved 4 March 2012
- Daily Telegraph article Retrieved 19 October 2009
- Newman, J.The National Trust, Blickling Hall pp56-65, p69 ISBN 0-7078-0086-2
- National Garden Scheme-Blickling Hall gardens Retrieved 15 April, 2013
- National Trust garden evolution Retrieved 15 December 2013
- Woodcock, T., Robinson, J., Heraldry in Historic Houses of Great Britain, p. 46-51,pb. 2000, ISBN 0-8109-6691-3
- Stephen Cooper, The Real Falstaff, Sir John Fastolf and the Hundred Years War, (Pen & Sword, 2010)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Blickling Hall.|
- Blickling Hall, Garden & Park information at the National Trust
- The Headless ghosts of Blickling Hall - an animated myth