The approach to Blickling Hall through the front gates is impressive – a broad gravel drive flanked by yew hedges, leading in a straight line to a huge red-brick building with a white clock tower, flanked by two lines of service buildings (stables, laundries, estate offices, etc).
The entry to the main house is across a bridge. Below the bridge is a nicely tended lawn, not water. The bridge looks as if it might once have spanned a moat, but there is no other evidence of a moat, and none of the notices around the place mentioned it.
The main part of the building dates from 1620 (the date is written above one of the windows on the front), but some alterations have been made since, and the furnishings are from several different eras. The dining room is impressive, though, and has a serving room next to it where dishes would be laid out ready. I haven’t come across serving rooms before in the various stately homes I’ve toured, but it makes sense.
Another door opened off the serving room, with a rather odd rack half-full of boards. On closer investigation, the other side of the boards had lovely polished wooden surfaces. So not only is the dining room huge (see above), but the table had many more leaves that could be added to it–enough to need their own small room for storage. I wish now I’d been able to see under the table – the engineer in me wants to know how the table can accommodate so much more length without needing extra legs.
There were service rooms on display, but I’ll do a separate post on those. One thing Blickling Hall did nicely that I have never seen before is to give visitors an idea of what is behing the many locked doors using an image on the door itself.
There were various parlours, anterooms and galleries open, but my favourite room was the library. To call it a ‘room’ is an understatement – it was vast! According to the National Trust’s website, there are over 12,500 books, most of which arrived in the 1740s. The photos below were taken from opposite ends of the library. Wall to wall books – that’s what I love. Sadly, various insects have been chomping away at part of the roof structure and also at some of the books, and a restoration project is underway.
Finally, the State bed, built in the mid-18th century. If you look closely, you can see G R in the middle of the top hanging. I’m not sure that King George (any of them!) ever slept in it.
We had actually come mainly to look at the gardens, but although the gardens were lovely we ended up being more interested in the house.
And finally, one part of the service buildings had been put to very good use, and served a very nice cuppa and slice of courgette cake!