Sandringham House is a country house on 20,000 acres of land near the village of Sandringham in Norfolk. The house is privately owned by Queen Elizabeth II and is located on the royal Sandringham Estate, which lies within the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The site has been occupied since the Elizabethan era, and, in 1771, architect Cornish Henley cleared the site to build Sandringham Hall. The hall was modified during the 19th century by Charles Spencer Cowper, a stepson of Lord Palmerston, who added an elaborate porch and conservatory, designed by architect Samuel Sanders Teulon. In 1862, the hall was purchased by Queen Victoria at the request of the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII) as a home for himself and his new bride, Princess Alexandra, who found the surrounding Norfolk countryside reminiscent of her native Denmark. However, in 1865, two years after moving in, the prince found the hall's size insufficient for his needs, and he commissioned A. J. Humbert to raze the hall and create a larger building.
The resulting red-brick house was completed in late 1870 in a mix of styles. This section incorporated the galleried entrance hall which is used by the royal family for entertaining and family occasions. A new wing was later added to one end of the house in a more traditional style, incorporating a ball room. The building was ahead of its time in amenities, with gas lighting, flushing water closets, and an early form of shower. One part of the house was destroyed in a fire during preparations for the Prince of Wales' 50th birthday in 1891, and later rebuilt. Sandringham House has been the private home of four generations of the British Royal Family. The main features of the new building were bay windows, which helped lighten the interior. Despite the size of Sandringham and the spaciousness of the main rooms, the living quarters were relatively small. Edward and Alexandra's sons, Prince Albert Victor and Prince George, for example, had very small bedrooms.
The spacious grounds, however, provided room for Queen Alexandra's menagerie of horses, dogs, cats, and other animals. The kennels were a particular delight to the children. In addition to stables for Royal horses in 1886 a racing pigeon loft was constructed for birds given to the Duke of York by King Leopold II of Belgium and one or more lofts for Royal pigeons have been maintained ever since. Since the death of Edward VII, Sandringham has been a popular holiday retreat for successive members of the Royal Family. Since King George VI died in 1952 at Sandringham, Queen Elizabeth II's custom has been to spend the anniversary of her father's death and her own Accession privately with her family at the House, and use it as her official base until February. It is an excellent location for shooting and is used for royal shooting parties. Such was King George V's fondness for hunting on the estate, he ordered all the clocks to be set half an hour ahead of GMT to increase the amount of evening daylight available for hunting. This tradition of Sandringham Time was kept on the estate from 1901 until 1936 when the new King Edward VIII showed he was "a new broom" by sweeping the custom away.
Along with Balmoral Castle, Sandringham House is the private property of the British royal family and not part of the Crown Estate. Their succession became an issue in 1936, when Edward VIII abdicated as king. Being legacies Edward had inherited from his father, George V, the estates did not automatically pass to his younger brother, George VI; the new king had to purchase the house from him. Queen Alexandra occupied the main house of Sandringham after the death of Edward VII in 1910, and she died there in 1925. Her two sons, Albert Victor and King George V also died at Sandringham, in 1892 and 1936 respectively, as did her grandson, King George VI. Prince Alexander of Denmark, later King Olav V of Norway, a grandson of King Edward VII, was born on the Sandringham Estate in 1903. Victoria, Princess Royal, the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria, sister of King Edward VII, and mother of Kaiser Wilhelm II, had a country house built at Friedrichshof, near Kronberg, in the style of Sandringham.
The estate is also home to York Cottage, built by Edward VII soon after he moved in. York Cottage was also a favourite of George V. Anmer Hall is a Georgian house on the grounds. At one point it was the country home of the Duke of Kent. In January 2013 British newspapers reported that the Queen had allocated Anmer Hall for use by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. When Prince Carl of Denmark (later King Haakon VII of Norway) and Princess Maud were married in July 1896, Appleton House was a wedding gift to them from the bride’s parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales. The gift was intended to provide the newly married couple with a place to stay whenever they visited England. The Prince of Wales wrote to his Danish brother-in-law, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, Carl's father, “I have given Maud and Charles a small house, their own country retreat – about one mile from here – they will always have a pied-à-terre when they come over to England. I know they will appreciate this very much.” Queen Maud came to love the house and spent much of her life there.
Sandringham is a friendly and informal place to visit, with knowledgeable guides in every room of the house and acres of beautiful gardens to explore while the Museum houses extraordinary collections of Royal vehicles, rare ceramics, photographs and memorabilia. There is plenty to see and do around the estate as well - you'll need at least four hours to be sure you can see everything, and if you have a whole day to spend, all the better. Don't miss the parish church of St Mary Magdalene with its hosts of carved and painted angels and its many Royal memorials, and of course the Restaurant or Stables Tea Room can offer reviving hot or cold drinks, snacks and meals before you investigate the various Visitor Centre shops.
Sandringham House, Museum and Visitor Centre are fully accessible for wheelchair users. There are reserved car parking bays close to the Visitor Centre for disabled visitors. Transport is available for those less able to walk, from inside the ticket office entrance to the front door of the house and back throughout the day. There is no charge for this service. There are adapted toilets at the Visitor Centre and at the Stables Tea Room. Wheelchairs may be borrowed free of charge (deposit required); enquire at the Restaurant. Wheelchair users and those less able to walk should be aware that there are quite long distances to cover between the Visitor Centre and Sandringham House, and around the gardens and grounds. Assistance dogs are welcome. Accessibility Guide.
Location : The Sandringham Estate, Sandringham, Norfolk PE35 6EN
Transport: Kings Lynn (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : Coasthopper (Kings Lynn to Cromer) stops outside.
Opening Times : Daily 11:00 to 17:00
Tickets Whole Property: Adults £14.00; Seniors/Students £12.50; Children (5 - 15) £7.00
Tickets Museum / Gardens: Adults £9.00; Seniors/Students £8.00; Children (5 - 15) £5.00
Tel: 01485 545400