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Holkham Hall and Bygones Museum

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Holkham Hall, home of the Coke family and the Earls of Leicester, was built between 1734 and 1764 by Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester.

This Palladian style mansion reflects Thomas Coke's appreciation of classical art developed during his 'Grand Tour' of Europe which lasted 6 years and from which he returned in the spring of 1718. He was 21 in June of that year and married Lady Margaret Tufton in July.

He had made numerous purchases on his journey; valuable and unique manuscripts and printed books, great works of art and statuary. Heir to a great estate and fortune, he began to consider how and where this collection should be housed and displayed. During his

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time in Rome he had met briefly with Lord Burlington and his protégé, William Kent, and their enthusiasm and imagination led directly to the construction of Holkham Hall.

The house today is little altered from the original structure. The vestibule on the north side of the house and the terraced gardens to the South were built during the 1850s by the 2nd Earl. Perhaps the most pleasing contribution of the great 18th Century estates to the English Landscape was the parks their owners created around their great houses, and Holkham is no exception.

Great houses need parks to show them off to their best effect. The first impression made upon the visitor was very important and the drive to the house was a carefully planned feature of any park.

The splendid buildings of the stables were erected in the 1860s to accommodate the carriages, carriage horses and riding horses of visitors to the Hall, but with the arrival of the motor car, they gradually fell into disuse.

In 1979 they

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took on a new lease of life when Lord Leicester acquired them from Dick Joice, who hosted the popular Bygones series on Anglia TV. They were aquired for his vast collection of old agricultural and domestic items for which he was seeking a permanent home.

This now forms the nucleus of a museum with thousands of exhibits from times gone by. Immediately opposite the entrance to the Bygones Collection is the fascinating 'History of Farming Exhibition'. The Coke family was in the forefront of the Agricultural Revolution of the late 18th and 19th centuries and the exhibition includes visual and audio illustrations of the influence of 'Coke of Norfolk'.

General Information:

  • Disabled access to ground floor and stair lift to first floor for most manually operated wheelchairs. (Please telephone Holkham Hall for more detailed information)

  • Café
  • Way-marked walks and nature trail with family quiz
  • Holkham Beach and National Nature Reserve
  • Gift Shop
  • Holkham Beach and National Nature Reserve
  • Cycle Hire
  • Accommodation
  • Lake cruises
  • Deer Park

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    Holkham is two miles west of Wells-next-the-Sea on the main A149, within easy reach of Norwich on the A1067, King's Lynn on the A148 and London and Cambridge from the M11 and the A10.

    Holkham Hall and Bygones Museum Postcode for SatNav: NR23 1AB


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