Top 10 Stately Homes in East Anglia

Sandringham

Sandringham is the Queen’s private country house, where she spends every Christmas and New Year, and all the main ground floor rooms used by the Royal family are open to the public from March to October. The Ballroom displays a different exhibition each year, and there are more family possessions displayed in the museum including vehicles ranging from a 1900 Daimler to a half-scale Aston Martin used by Princes William and Harry.

Where to stay: The Bank House in King’s Lynn is a unique Grade II Georgian town house hotel situated by the river in the historic centre.

Where to eat: There is a restaurant at the Sandringham visitor centre, but for a traditional country pub go to the Rose & Crown at Snettisham, Norfolk’s 2015 Pub of the Year.

Somerleyton Hall

You’ll find Somerleyton Hall in the heart of the Suffolk Broads, amongst swathes of parkland peppered with thatched cottages and the occasional windmill. Though its history dates back to the Viking invasion of East Anglia, this opulent hall is largely the work of two great Victorians: the sculptor and architect, John Thomas, and the garden designer, William Andrews Nesfield. You can explore Somerleyton Hall from April to the end of September, including its extravagant gardens, which feature a maze and 70ft flower-laden pergola.

Where to stay: On the northern edge of the Somerleyton estate is Fritton Lake, where you can rent a country lodge in woods.

Where to eat: The Duke’s Head is Somerleyton’s village pub, and offers delicious seasonal food often sourced from the Somerleyton Estate.

Majestic Holkham Hall, North Norfolk

Holkham Hall

Holkham Hall is a spectacular example of English Palladian style, set in a 3000 acre park containing a mile-long lake with nature trail, herd of fallow deer and new £4.5m visitor facilities that include ‘English agricultural revolution’ farming exhibition and courtyard café.

Where to stay: The Victoria Hotel in Wells-next-the-Sea.

Where to eat: The Crown in Wells-next-the-Sea.

 

Melford Hall

Melford Hall in Long Melford is home to the Hyde Parker family, whose cousin Beatrix Potter was a frequent visitor from the 1890s onwards. It was at Melford Hall that Miss Potter drew inspiration for some of her best-loved characters, and the hall still contains many of her original sketches, alongside many other objects that document the fascinating family history of the Hyde Parkers. Melford Hall opens at Easter and closes in mid-autumn.

Where to stay: The Bull Hotel is a beautiful 15th century timbered house in Long Melford with 25 traditional, cosy rooms.

Where to eat: The Long Melford Swan boasts a mouth-watering menu and two AA rosettes for culinary excellence.

Couple walking towards Blickling Hall, Norfolk

Blickling Hall & Gardens

Nobody ever forgets their first sight of Blickling, run by the National Trust. The breath-taking red-brick mansion and ancient yew hedges sit at the heart of a magnificent garden and historic park in beautiful meadows by the river Bure. The headless ghost of Henry VIII’s second wife Anne Boleyn is said to haunt the hall.

Where to stay: The Bucks Arms is in the grounds of Blickling.

Where to eat: The Erpingham Arms is a gastropub a few miles from Blickling.

 

Helmingham Hall

Helmingham Hall is a perfect example of a courtyard manor house; its four sides – each as attractive as the next – are surrounded by a moat, and every night Helmingham’s two draw bridges are raised, as they have been since 1510, leaving the hall an island protected by the water and its many fish. Perhaps Helmingham’s most spectacular feature, however, are its gardens, designed and maintained by the award-winning Lady Xa Tollemache, whose family have lived at Helmingham Hall since the 1480s. You can explore Helmingham Hall from May to September.

Where to stay: Swilland Mill offers luxury self-catering accommodation in a historic post mill.

Where to eat: The Moon & Mushroom Inn in Swilland is a charming 16th century pub with a fantastic, homely menu.

Houghton Hall

With its domed corner towers, Houghton Hall is one of the finest Palladian-style houses in England, built and furnished between 1722 and 1735 for Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister. There is also the Marquess of Cholmondeley's collection of 20,000 model soldiers and militaria. The hall is surrounded by parkland, home to a herd of white fallow and exotic deer, and there is a restored walled garden and modern art.

Where to stay: Try the luxury spa and facilities at Congham Hall, or The Old Brick Kilns is ideal for touring.

Where to eat: The Dabbling Duck at Great Massingham is a favourite with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Kentwell Hall

Without doubt one of Suffolk’s most unusual stately homes, Kentwell Hall is Tudor mansion that’s full of surprises. Explore it and you might stumble across a castle made of yew trees, a galleon, a two-dimensional maze, rare farm animals, and even some real-life Tudors going about their business. Kentwell Hall is open on select days from April to September.

Where to stay: The Black Lion is a charming hotel overlooking Long Melford’s village green.

Where to eat: The Great House in Lavenham, where you can eat award-winning French cuisine made with Suffolk produce.

Felbrigg Hall

One of the most elegant country houses in East Anglia, Felbrigg Hall is a place of surprises and delights, a mixture of opulence and homeliness where each room has something to feed the imagination. Outside, the decorative and productive walled garden is a gardener's delight and inspiration. The rolling landscape park with a lake, 520 acres of woods and waymarked trails is a great place to explore nature and wildlife on this bountiful estate.

Where to stay: Try The Links Country Park Hotel if you like your golf or The Grove or Virginia Court in Cromer.

Where to eat: No 1 Cromer is a superb fish and chip café overlooking Cromer Pier, owned by Michelin-starred restaurateur Galton Blackiston.

Ickworth House

Ickworth House is a striking example of Italianate Georgian architecture, the like of which had never been seen before, and which is now unique in Britain. The palatial building is centred by a rotunda, inspired by those of ancient Rome, and shooting off from it are two great wings filled with art and treasures collected by the palace’s former inhabitants, the Hervey family. Ickworth House’s opening times vary, so check the website when planning your visit.

Where to stay: The Ickworth is a luxurious hotel that takes up one wing of the stately home.

Where to eat: Pea Porridge in Bury St Edmunds, “the best restaurant in Suffolk” according to the Good Food Guide 2015.