Blickling Hall is a stately home set it beautiful gardens, located in the village of Blickling north of Aylsham in Norfolk. It was the birthplace of Anne Boleyn. In the 15th century, Blickling was in the possession of Sir John Fastolf of Caister in Norfolk (1380–1459), who made a fortune in the Hundred Years' War. He who has enjoyed a more lasting reputation as the prototype, in some part, of Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff. Many historians consider, however, that he deserves to be famous in his own right, not only as a soldier, but as a patron of literature, a writer on strategy and perhaps as an early industrialist. The family coat of arms is still on display here.
Later, the property was in the possession of the Boleyn family, and home to Thomas Boleyn, later Earl of Wiltshire, and his wife Elizabeth between 1499 and 1505. Although the exact birth dates of their children are unknown, historians are confident that all three surviving children were likely born at Blickling – Mary in about 1500, Anne in about 1501, and George in about 1504. A statue and portrait of Anne may be found at Blickling Estate which carry the inscription, "Anna Bolena hic nata 1507" (Anne Boleyn born here 1507), based on earlier scholarship which assigned Anne a (now thought highly improbable) year of birth of 1507. The house of Blickling seen today 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.
After the death of Philip Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian (the last private owner of Blickling) in December 1940, the Blickling estate passed into the care of the National Trust as part of his bequest. 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. RAF servicemen and women were billeted within the grounds in Nissen huts, whilst RAF Officers were housed within Blickling itself. The National Trust has created the RAF Oulton Museum on site in tribute to the RAF pilots and ground crew who served in the Second World War, and this may be visited for no additional entrance fee. 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 of "Blickling Estate".
The library at Blickling Estate 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, whose work is still considered definitive. A more recent translation and edition by Richard J. Kelly was widely panned by scholars and critics upon publication. Another important manuscript formerly at Blickling Hall is the Blickling or Lothian Psalter, an 8th-century illuminated psalter with Old English glosses, now owned by the Pierpont Morgan Library, where it is MS M.776. It is said that every year, on the anniversary of her execution, Anne Boleyn's headless ghost arrives at Blickling 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.
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. 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. 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. 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.
There is Mobility parking and a Parking drop-off point. Accessible toilet in the main car park, East Wing and by the plant centre. Building: Ramped entrance. Two wheelchairs available for use. Ground floor accessible. Stairs with handrail to first floor (lift available, although currently under repair), basement rooms and document room. Grounds: Gravel paths. Two seated walking frames. Three single-seater powered mobility vehicles. There is a Grounds map of the accessible route. Park: circular route suitable for wheelchairs (2 miles). Sensory experience: Fountains and scented plants. Audio presentation in house and gardens. Large print guide. Braille guide. Induction loops are fitted in both Visitor Reception areas, the shop, restaurant, both cafeterias and the bookshop. Portable induction loop available in the Hall. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Blickling, Aylsham, Norfolk, NR11 6NF
Transport: Aylsham (Bure Valley) 1.6 miles OR Norwich (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 1, 291 and NS1 stop outside.
Opening Times : Closed Tuesdays, Otherwise 12:00 to 17:00 House and 10:00 to 17:00 Gardens, Plant Centre.
Tickets House + Gardens: Adults £12.65; Children £6.80
Tickets Gardens Only: Adults £8.10; Children £4.50
Tel: 01263 738030