Thursday, 24 October 2019

A Grand Norfolk House

The first owner of the Blickling Estate was Harold Godwinson who became King Harold ll of England. Over the centuries the estate has been home to many distinguished historical figures including Sir Thomas Boleyn in 1505, father of Anne Boleyn. 
Sir Henry Hobart, 1st Baronet, was Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, one of the highest judicial officials in England. In 1616 he purchased the Blickling Estate for £5,500. The fact that it was the reputed birth place of Anne Boleyn, and had also been the home of Sir John Fastolfe, a knight during the Hundred Years War, later characterised as a Shakespearian comic in his Henry Vl, greatly appealed to him. He decided to rebuild himself a new fashionable house in the Jacobean style, which eventually ended up costing him almost twice as much as the entire estate. 
Progress on the house was slow as it was complicated by the narrowness of the site, so the architect, Robert Lyminge, decided on what was considered to be a radical plan at the time.
He designed a thin elongated house with two internal courtyards, and then placed the two service buildings, which would normally be hidden from view, to the fore of the main house like two arms. Dutch gables were placed on the service buildings in order to harmoniously compliment the gables on the big house.
There is so much to see in this grand house that it is impossible to do it justice. Here are four things that I found to be of interest or pleasing to my eye.
In 1850 the 8th Marquis of Lothian inherited the house. He had met John Hungerford Pollen, an inventive and decorative painter and architect whilst at Oxford University. He commissioned him to undertake a few projects at Blickling including this lovely painting on the Drawing Room ceiling. However, in the 1930's the 11th Marquis installed a suspended ceiling to cover Pollen's work as it was not to his taste. After a disastrous flood in 2002 in the room above, the painted ceiling was rediscovered, and has now been returned back to Pollen's former glory.
Summer has now faded into autumn giving us mellow fruitfulness and the gift of apples. This painting, although contemporary, is called the Golden Caroline. In the 1820s a new variety of eating apple was discovered at Blickling, it was named Caroline after Lady Suffield who lived there at the time. The tree flourished for many years but sadly dwindled in the early 1900s and was considered to have become a lost variety. By good fortune a surviving tree was identified growing in a garden nearby at Gooderstone near Oxburgh, and thus the Caroline apple was saved. It continues to flourish and produce apples to this day in the orchard at Blickling. 
Many rare books are housed at Blickling which had originally formed the library of Sir Richard Ellys (1682-1742). They came to Blickling following his death when they were inherited by the Hobart family. Amongst them is this Eliot Bible printed in 1663. The bible was one of the first books ever printed in North America, and the Blickling copy is thought to be one of only 40 surviving first editions. It was translated into the Massachusetts Indian dialect by Englishman John Eliot who, with the help of the Wampanoag tribe, learned their language phonetically.
By the 1800s the Wampanoag language had fallen out of use in both spoken and written forms. Today, the bible is one of the few written examples of Wampanoag language, making it a treasured 'key' that has now enabled the Wampanoag people to revive their lost language and reconnect with their history and cultural identity.
This wonderful vase captured my attention in the library, and although it did not have a label I recognised it as being a piece of early 20th century stoneware by one of the Martin Brothers. If you are not familiar with them, you can read more about them here. Their stoneware is highly collectible, and very expensive.

36 comments:

  1. It's an impressive place, but I have the feeling I would have preferred the original, unaltered version.

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    1. I have no idea what the previous house looked like, but it's foundations dated back as far as c1045.

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  2. Another wonderful visit to a stately home! I love to follow your visits and feel as if I've been there. Your attention to their history is wonderful and your photos really do justice to these wonderful places. Thank you. Best, Jane x

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    1. Thank you very much Jane - I am pleased that you enjoyed your visit.

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  3. Another one for the "must visit" list. I've walked in the area but have not been to the house - yet. that ceiling is particularly attractive.

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    1. Taste is so individual - both you and I admire the ceiling but obviously the same was not true for the 11th Marquis!!!

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  4. What a wonderful place to visit. your photos are gorgeous. I loved the ceiling and the vase, everything actually. On first impression it doesn't strike me as a house. It looks like some sort of institution. I suppose that is because of those two arms coming from the main building. Thank you for the tour!

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    1. The first impressions of this building are spectacular - it sits all by itself in remote countryside. You drive through woodlands and then suddenly there it is as if looking at you.

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  5. A fascinating place! Very cool about that Bible.

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    1. They had a video showing Wampanoag people talking about what it had meant to them to be able to reconnect with their language again.

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  6. Glorious photos of a beautiful place. Intriguing about the Apple tree. Good that it survived. B x

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    1. It is a beautiful piece of architecture Barbara.

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  7. It must really be a fantastic place, both indoors and outdoors.
    Thanks for the explanations and the excellent photo report.
    All the best
    Maria

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  8. Thank so much for a wonderful series of photos of this mansion, and your excellent descriptions. I had to go see about Martin pottery since I'm an American potter, and hadn't heard of them before. Their birds and fish are beautiful. I still enjoy salt glazed works, but don't do that myself.

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    1. I am pleased to have been able to introduce you to the Martin Brothers - there work is highly sort after and collectible.

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  9. What a beautiful place.Enjoyed the story about the Apple...and the painting.

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  10. Dearest Rosemary,
    What a story about the Caroline apple, so happy that it got preserved somehow.
    What a lovely outside, great architecture!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - architecture greatly influenced by your own home country.

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    2. Love those Dutch 🇳🇱gables, all over the world where they have been adopted!

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  11. Hello Rosemary, How interesting the Blickling has a copy of the Eliot Indian Bible. It seems that a number of them made it over to Great Britain. Yale's 1663 copy was apparently obtained as a duplicate from Trinity College in Dublin.
    --Jim

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  12. Blickling is a beautiful and unusual building, and thank you for sharing its story. The painted ceiling is a wonderful find, and I enjoyed the story of the Golden Caroline apple. Having just read a couple of books about indigenous people of North America, I was very taken with the story of the bible in the language of the Wampanoag people. What a precious thing it is, and amazing how it has been used to reproduce their language.

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    1. It appears from a video that I saw in the house that the Wampanoag people have been delighted to be able to reconnect with their language again, and are already having success learning it with assistance. I loved that ceiling too which reminded me of some of William Morris's designs.

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  13. You are visiting my home turf. Strolling the grounds of Blickling as a younger and more fanciful woman I would pretend I was one of Anne Boleyn's ladies taking a moment of solitude.

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    1. I am pleased to learn that this post rekindled younger more fanciful memories for you - I love this beautiful house sitting within it's tranquil Norfolk setting.

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  14. Hello Rosemary
    I loved your narrative and if I was heading back to England any time soon, Blickling would be on my list! I have a fascination for the Norfolk broads!
    The ceiling captured my attention too as I love design! Like you, William Morris designs and patterns sprung to mind!
    It’s wonderful that we can now visit these great old houses filled with treasures such as those at Blickling.
    You’ve whetted my appetite once again dear Rosemary!
    Shane xx

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    1. Hello Shane - it is lovely to hear from you. I am not very familiar with the Norfolk area even though my parents took me there as a child, but this last visit has made me want to revisit it again soon.
      Thank you for your kind comment Shane.

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  15. Your photos are stunning Rosemary. I visited Blickling a few years ago, it is a beautiful place.

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    1. I love that moment at Blickling when you first arrive - it is such a stunning looking property.

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  16. I think that in the UK one would never run short of wonderful stately homes and castles to visit. The painted ceiling panels shown in your photo are so beautifully decorated. I'm glad they were rediscovered and preserved.

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    1. I am suffering from guilt at the moment about flying overseas, and questioning myself and my motifs. The compensation would be the hundreds of spots and corners that I don't know here, that I can still explore.

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  17. I like that vase- something I don't normally say about pottery/stoneware. As for flying and guilt- if you have the money and opportunity go for it. I would in a heartbeat. You only get one life as far as I know- better to enjoy it :o).

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