Sheringham Park is a landscape park and gardens near the town of Sheringham, Norfolk, England. The park surrounds Sheringham Hall. The hall is privately occupied, but Sheringham Park is in the care of the National Trust and open to visitors. The park was designed by Humphry Repton (1752-1818) who presented his proposals in July 1812 in the form of one of his Red Books. He described Sheringham as his "favourite and darling child in Norfolk". Abbot and Charlotte Upcher bought the estate in 1811, and successive generations of the Upcher family did much to develop the estate, the hall and the park, as well as building a school.
There are fine mature woodlands and a large variety of rhododendrons and azaleas. In the early 20th century, Henry Morris Upcher obtained rhododendron seeds of various types from plantsman Ernest "Chinese" Wilson. Plants from this source which can found at the garden include Rhododendron ambiguum, calophytum and decorum, among others. Many other species of tree and shrub are represented in the garden,including fifteen kinds of magnolia, large specimen pieris. Among the other trees are maples, acers, styrax, eucryphia, pocket handkerchief tree davidia involucrata and a fine example of the snowdrop tree. Several overlook towers provide good views over the gardens, and of the nearby coast and surrounding countryside. A garden temple was constructed in the Park in 1975.
The visitor centre is located within Wood Farm Barn at the southern end of the park, the barn also houses an exhibition of the history and the wildlife of Sheringham Park. Together with a reception desk and information kiosk. From the reception there are hearing loops available. Wheelchairs and powered mobility vehicles available at no charge although it is necessary to take a small test before use. The refreshment kiosk is also at Wood Farm Barn.
The exhibition area explores the life and work of the landscape architect Humphrey Repton and also of the Upcher family who owned the park. There are several examples of Humphrey Repton’s red book of plans for the designs of the park. Part of the exhibition area has an area dedicated to the wildlife and nature of the park with identification games and interactive displays.
** – Sheringham Hall – **
The main body of the house is two storeys and has a low pitched slate roof. To the south facing facade there is a bay to each side with a portico with four pairs Tuscan columns creating a veranda. This leads out onto terrace which runs right across the front of the south elevation. There is a porch over the main door on the western façade which is also supported by two pairs of Tuscan columns. Above is a pediment embellished with the Upcher crest of a unicorn surrounded by five ostrich feathers.
Inside the house on the ground floor there are five rooms. The three rooms on the south front of the building start with a parlour to the south west corner, a dining room to the centre and a living room and library to the south east corner which takes up the whole of the east side of the house. Of this room there is a recessed breakfast room at right angle to the eastern elevation. At the back of the house there is a study to the north west corner which leads off from the main door hallway. Next to the study is the service staircase down to the cellar and next to that is the main stairwell of a main corridor which runs through the center of the house linking the main hall, dining room, stairwell and living room at the eastern end. To the north and west attached to the main body of the house there is a service wing. The main staircase is a curved cantilevered stair with stone treads with shaped soffits. The balustrade sits on the inner open stringer and is fabricated from cast iron with a hexagonal pattern. The handrail is made from hand carved wreathed mahogany with mother of pearl and ebony inlay at the turned newel post.
Set back and to the west of the hall stands the stable block and coachman’s house which were also designed by John Adey Repton. This building is also a Grade II listed building. The brick built building is faced with pebble flintwork with gault brick quoining. The building is topped with a Welsh slate roof which has a central wooden cupola bell turret faced with a clock. This is topped with a gilded arrow weathervane. In front of the block is enclosed courtyard with brick walls.
At the southern main entrance to the estate the gatehouse is called Ivy Lodge and was designed in the Cottage orné style by the Repton’s. This lodge is also a Grade II listed building. The lodge is built over two storeys with the ground floor faced in Norfolk red bricks. The second floor is faced in pebble dashed render with some parts of render panels between black timber vertical stud posts. The south east corner of the lodge has a circular forward facing wing. The roof is now finished in plain red tiles and has wide overhanging eaves with finial to the top of the turreted roof. The lodge extensively renovated in 1905 when the thatched roof was replaced with the tiled roof.
The hall and estate’s east entrance from the nearby village of Upper Sheringham passes by another entrance lodge simply known as Lodge cottage. It built over two storeys and is built from brick faced with pebble flint work with Norfolk red brick quoining. The south elevation has a projecting bay with a hip roof with the upper storey clad in dark shiplap timber planking. The house has a Norfolk pantile roof.
The West Lodge gatehouse is situated just of the A149 coast road between Sheringham and Weybourne. It is on the north-west corner of Oak Wood which is the estates area of woodland on the hill north of the Hall. This gatehouse is no longer part of the estate and the drive which ran to the hall from here no longer connected to the estate or hall. The building is a two storey flint and tile house with a pantile roof and has been a private residence for many years.
The walled garden and cottage are 250 meters to the south-east of the house and were constructed at the same time as the hall, and again to the Repton’s plans. The wall and cottage are Grade II listed. The garden is rectangular plan and is bounded with high brick walls which are part-buttressed at stress points around the enclosure. The south wall of the garden has a number of lean-to greenhouses either side of the boundary wall. There are several auxiliary buildings and potting sheds.
At the north-east corner of the enclosure there is a two storey gardener's cottage which is integral to the boundary wall and a further two building attached to the north wall. The enclosure has three access points. The main entrance is a double door with brick support piers to either side which is located in the middle of the west wall. There is a connecting driveway to the hall from here. A second entrance is in the north wall near to the buildings located there. The third access is a single door in the north east corner of the garden.
The current hall at Sheringham park was built close to the site of an earlier Jacobean style hall, which was demolished, that had stood some 600 meters east of today’s hall. This house stood in a smaller estate and was owned by the Flower’s Family who were an influential family from the Sheringham area. Records show that a Cook Flower was one of three lords of the manor in Sheringham. In 1792 Cook Flower bought the previous house that stood here. It was described as an extensive and attractive estate. It was Cook Flower who began to landscape and plant the woodland on the hilltops around the house leaving the rolling pastures below as arable farmland.
Abbot Upcher was the son of Peter and Elizabeth Upcher of Ormesby St Michael a small village seven miles from Great Yarmouth. He was married to Charlotte Wilson and now had a rapidly growing family with a son called Henry Ramey Upcher and a daughter called Charlotte Mary. Upcher decided that what his family needed was a larger house and in 1811 he purchased the estate and the existing manor house owned by Cook Flower at Sheringham. After some negotiation a fee of £52,000 was agreed between the two men and an agreement was signed with Flowers legal representative by the name of William Repton who resided in Aylsham.
William Repton was the son of Humphrey Repton the landscape designer and architect. Upcher attended dinner with William Repton at the time of the purchase of the hall and estate and it was at this dinner that Upcher was introduced to William Repton's father Humphry Repton, the Landscape architect. During this dinner it was agreed that Repton’s father should oversee the design and construction of the house and the estate. Humphry Repton concentrated on the Landscaping whilst his other son, John Adey Repton was placed in charge of the design and construction of the new hall. At this time Britain was at War with the United States and its American Indian allies. This along with the continuing war with France, had put the country in to deep recession. Repton was pleased to get the work, as in recent times his business had dried up and was putting him into increasing difficulties. He had also been badly injured in a carriage accident which had left him disabled and confined to a bath chair. The Upcher contract came as welcome relief. For the same reasons, Upcher had toned down his plans for his home and estate.
Two years after Upcher had purchased the property work finally began on the new hall on the 2 July 1812. By this time Humphry Repton had begun to recover from the accident but he increasingly relied on his son for the day-to-day running of the contract. One of the first scheduled job was to construct a new track (Now known as the Back Drive) down to the coast road which would be necessary to transport all the building materials to the estate. The Gault bricks for the face brickwork of the hall where from Lincolnshire and were brought to Norfolk by sea.
Other materials arrived by train to nearby Weybourne and Sheringham stations and hauled to site along the new road. Other building materials used on the new hall were reclamations from local sources. These included Oak retrieved from a wrecked ship at Blakeney and other timber from a local demolished granary.
The Repton’s employed a clerk of works to oversee the job on the recommendation of Abbot Upcher. He had been the master of a local workhouse and although Upcher admired the man's diligence and enthusiastic attitude, this did not make up for his inexperience in the building trade. Upcher allowed the clerk to have the wooden arch centres which had been used to form the cellar, removed prematurely. This was done at a time when there had been torrential rain in the area for several days. Unsurprisingly the removal of the arch Centring's caused the collapse of the cellar ceiling throwing progress back quite considerably. The construction of the house ran simultaneously with the landscaping of the estate. This work also included a terrace garden on the north south of the hall which sat in the lee of the hill.
During the period of construction of the new house Abbot and his wife Charlotte moved into the Flower’s old farmhouse close to the village of Upper Sheringham. By 1817 the house was nearing completion and the family hoped to move into the hall by the summer of that year. There was still work needed on the interior of the house and the work moved on to 1818. Unfortunately in March 1818 Humphrey Repton died as a consequence of the ill health caused by his carriage accident which he had never fully recovered from. In just under a year later Abbot Upcher died in February 1819 succumbing to the illness that had plagued his health for many years, He was only aged 35.
By the time of Abbots death the house was all but finished, but his wife Charlotte had lost interest in the new house and stayed in the old farmhouse. By the time of Abbot’s death the house had cost £6,600. Work was stopped on the house and it remained empty and unfinished until Abbot and Charlotte’s son Henry Ramey Upcher married and he finished the hall and moved in with his family in 1839. Charlotte had remained in the farmhouse and dedicated herself to the village wellbeing, the church and to her family. She was also instrumental in the inauguration of Sheringham’s first lifeboat, The Augusta.
By the time that Henry Upcher had finally completed the hall and moved his family in, the cost had risen to £12,618. Henry lived in the hall with his wife Caroline and his 11 children. He died on the 30 March 1892 leaving the hall to Henry Morris Upcher who was his eldest son, and his wife Maria. Henry was instrumental in the development of Sheringham town and spent time and money promoting the seaside resort, increasing its popularity. Henry also became the High Sheriff of Norfolk in 1899 and was elected alderman to the County Council in 1901. Henry had seven children and he left the hall to his eldest son Henry Edward Sparke Upcher.
Henry Edward Sparke Upcher was knighted and from 1941 until 1950 he was Chairmen of Norfolk County Council. Sir Henry died in 1954 and left his estate to his only child, a son. His full name was Henry Thomas Simpson Upcher but he went by the name Thomas. It was Thomas who completed Humphrey Repton’s design for the estate when he erected a Temple in the park. This had always been included in Repton’s original red book scheme for the estate. The Temple was built in 1975, 160 years after it was first envisaged by Repton, Thomas Upcher had it built to celebrate his seventieth birthday and although it is in a slightly different position to Repton’s original specification it still commands the views of the estate and surrounding countryside intended by Repton. Thomas Upcher died in 1985. He was a bachelor and had no heir to leave the house and estate to. In 1986 the National Trust bought the estate and opened it up to the general public. The hall is not open to the public and is leased out to private tenants.
** – Wildlife – **
The varying habitats of Sheringham Park which include woodland, parkland, wild garden, farmland and clifftop provide home to a wide range of wildlife and plants. From Britain’s smallest bird, firecrest to our largest mammal, red deer you never know what you might encounter when walking around the park.
The natural world is ever changing with the seasons, every walk will be different and unscripted but will always contain a highlight if you take the time to look for it. Some of the seasonal highlights are detailed below, if you can add to their list please do let them know.
With nearly a 1000 acres to explore you can take a short stroll or a long walk to enjoy the variety of habitats Sheringham Park has to offer. There are four waymarked routes with distances ranging from one to five miles taking you through the varying habitats of the park. Coastal views, many created by landscape gardener Humphry Repton, are a feature of all the trails, the changing seasons will provide a different look for each visit and you never know what you may see around the next corner. Will it be a butterfly, a bird or maybe one of the three species of deer that can be spotted here? Download a map to see the trails in more detail.
** – Woodland and Coastal walk – **
Enjoy this wonderfully varied walk through parkland, fields, woods, and along the cliff edge by the sea. Savour the views from the tree-top gazebo and absorb the history and rich variety of trees, bird and animal life. Visit Weybourne Station; the Gazebo and Repton’s Temple. Opportunities for refreshment en route. Classified as Moderate the walk is 7 miles long and should take about two and a half hours.
Start: Sheringham Park Visitor Centre.
** – Repton’s walk at Sheringham Park – **
Enjoy a stroll through the glorious landscaped parkland at Sheringham, with stunning sea views as well as country vistas. Visit in May and June to see the vibrant rhododendrons and azaleas. Relax a while in the Bower and the Ling House; continue on until reaching the temple, designed by Repton but not built until over 160 years later. Classified as Moderate, the walk is two miles log and should take about one and a half hours. It is dog friendly.
Start: Sheringham Park Visitor Centre.
Repton’s design for Sheringham reflects both local and personal concerns and the dramatic troubles of the wider world of the time. In 1812 Britain was at war and in deep recession and Repton was still suffering ill effects from a serious carriage accident in 1811 which had left him largely confined to a wheelchair and increasingly dependent on his family. He was also under increasing financial strain as work had largely dried up during the prolonged war with France.
The threat of invasion by Napoleon was very real throughout the early years of the 19th-century and the North Sea was busy with activity. In Repton’s sketches you can see the signal station at the top of the hill behind the house and plenty of ships in the sea. 'The Mars', a warship of 74 guns, was anchored within sight of Cromer in 1807, where it was painted by John Sell Cotman before setting off to bombard Copenhagen. In 1810 the ship’s commander William Lukin, heir to the Felbrigg estate, signed a contract to buy the Sheringham estate but it was later cancelled.
Repton’s first connection with Sheringham was as a potential gift from the nation to the family of Horatio Nelson in commemoration of Nelson’s achievements (the estate to be named Trafalgar), a commission that might finally have brought him the fame and fortune he so desperately sought. However, the government were not to be convinced of its suitability and instead the estate was bought by Abbot and Charlotte Upcher, a young evangelical Christian couple. Repton’s son William, a solicitor, handled the sale and introduced his father to the Upchers, paving the way for the 1812 commission.
Repton knew Norfolk well, and appears to have become genuinely attached to the Upcher family, seeing the commission as an opportunity to create his idea of an ideal country estate at a time when he viewed most of the country as falling apart. Prime Minister Spencer Perceval had been assassinated in May 1812 and George III had descended into madness, leaving rule to the Prince Regent who was extremely unpopular because of his extravagant spending at a time of war.
Repton had recently been forced to take on commissions for some of those who had profited from war contracts, processes of enclosure or financial speculation but privately lamented their lack of taste and concern for land and people. He also invested time and money he could ill afford making unrealized designs for the Prince’s Brighton Pavilion. Ironically, when writing Mansfield Park in 1812, Jane Austen used ‘Mr Repton’ as a byword for wanton alterations to the landscape.
In the Red Book for Sheringham Repton described his relationship with Abbot Upcher as a “congenial meeting of minds”. The Upchers were keen to provide a moral lead for the community and Repton’s plans for the estate echoed the couple’s own views. Repton proposed that the new house be situated close to the village of Upper Sheringham, be of a relatively modest design, with rooms “not extravagant in size or quantity,” and that visitors be permitted to enter the estate to enjoy the views. He also recommended that the Upcher family admit the rural poor to gather dead wood within the estate boundaries. Involving themselves within the community was crucial for the Upchers at a time when social relations were divisive across much of the country owing to unemployment, economic depression and a run of poor harvests, symbolised by the Luddite protests in the manufacturing districts.
Sport was another important way to maintain good relations and within the Red Book Repton describes how cricket and coursing matches on the beach could be used as means of “promoting a mutual intercourse betwixt the landlord, the tenant and the labourer.”
Repton recommended that Upcher carry out some further planting to add colour, depth and variety to the existing woodlands. Planting trees also held symbolic significance at a time of war when timber was needed for shipbuilding. The inclusion of a cornfield within the view from the house is similarly indicative of the wartime context and the need for parks to be places of production as well as pleasure.
Work to implement Repton’s design was begun in early 1813 with plantings and the first stones of the new house were laid in July, with Repton and his son John Adey present. Abbot was enthusiastic and experimental in his planting, being the first in the district to introduce the plane tree.
Progress in laying out the design remained good until early in 1817 when Abbot tragically fell victim to a ‘brain fever’. He never recovered and died in 1819, just a few months after Repton’s own death. Charlotte continued to manage the estate and was an active member of the local community, campaigning and donating for local causes like the town’s first lifeboats and on international issues including the abolition of slavery.
** – Visiting – **
The National Trust is as mad about dogs as you are. With marked trails of between one and five miles they hope you and your dogs will enjoy the varied habitats of Sheringham Park. Please help us keep the park a safe, healthy and enjoyable place for you, your dog, fellow visitors, wildlife and livestock by adhering to the following:
** – Facilities – **
Location : Sheringham Park, Upper Sheringham, Norfolk, NR26 8TL
Transport: Sheringham (National Rail) 2 miles. Bus routes: 17, 19 and CH5, services stop on request at main entrance.
Opening Times : Park, from dawn till dusk.
Opening Times : Cafe and Visitor Centre 10:00 to 17.00.
Tickets : Free
Tel: 01263 820550