Leaving 55 Exhibition Road at 10 am we travelled north toward King’s Lynn, stopping on the way for a pub lunch in a historic inn. Proceeding, we arrived at Holkham Hall where our guide was waiting for our private visit. The entrance Hall is breathtaking. Designed by William Kent you could see clearly the influences of classical Rome. Charles Shaw gave a short period recital on the grand piano made available to visiting pianists. As the music resonated around the Hall one became aware of the excellent acoustics so essential for the concerts and operas performed there.
Our guide was a fountain of knowledge and introduced us to some of the private rooms as well as the superb collection of art assembled by young Viscount Coke in his first Grand Tour of Italy.
A gallery of Roman sculpture, paintings from the Raphael school, Roman Baroque artists such as Poussin and Claude whose landscapes occupied a whole room. A magnificent Rubens, Van Dyck and many English artists such as Gainsborough and Kneller completed an incomparable private collection. Throughout the decor and furniture had been designed by Kent. Leaving the interior we walked around the House to admire the back, once the Grand entrance, beautifully designed in the Palladian Style by Kent.
Leaving, with reluctance, we travelled along the north Norfolk Coast to our Hotel which was once a 17 C. Farmhouse. As the sun set over the sea we marvelled at how this was possible bearing in mind that we were on the east coast of England. Awakening to another perfect day we walked for a while on the uncrowded sandy beaches before setting off for what we feared would be an anticlimax - Sandringham. How wrong we were! The Queen’s private estate includes a delightful house restored in the 19th Century in the Jacobean style. Each room is manned by a guide in perfect uniform ready to answer any questions you might have. You quickly become aware that the present royal family have great taste as demonstrated in the furniture, furnishings and works of art.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful aspects of the estate lies in the gardens. In full spring bloom, the colour, the beautiful mature trees and the cleverly positioned vistas create an outstanding visual experience which was enhanced by the wonderful spring weather.
We left having experienced a memorable two days and one we plan to repeat in July this year.
Rosa Maria Letts
Trip to Holkham Hall 16/17 May 2014 by Maggie Weatherby
The trip to Holkham Hall was everything one could hope for in an Artstur flying visit. Put a group of art enthusiasts together, palatial grandeur, sunny weather, sunsets, hotel on the beach, delicious food, good conversation and fun, a sure recipe for an unforgettable outing. We made a swift journey up to Holkham, stopped for lunch on the way at a pub where we sat in brilliant sunshine in a most glorious wisteria garlanded garden. Arriving at the Hall, we were met by a charming curator who led us into an Italian Palazzo style room, known as the Marble Room, where one of our party played a beautiful Italian piece for us on the Steinway grand piano. After which our curator guided us unhurriedly around the house, taking time to tell us and show us details of this most beautiful house room by room. His knowledge was very impressive and he never tired of answering our numerous questions. The William Kent designs and architecture influenced and inspired by Palladio were the result of his trip to Italy on the Grand Tour in 1711. This most incredible polymath certainly spared nothing to create a place of opulence and grandeur. The private art collection with paintings by Van Dyke, Claude (a whole room full) Vasari, Reubens and many more is very impressive. See information by Rosa Maria on the house and art collection or visit www.holkham.co.uk The gardens extended as far as the eyes could see and were mostly open grass with trees and a lake. At one point, a small distance from the house was a garden seat with a life size bronze statue of Edward Coke, Earl of Leicester where we stopped for a photo shoot! Thrilled at our experience we headed to our hotel on the beach at Hunstanton. At dinner conversation flowed, along with the wine and a very special local beer. The sky gave us the most wonderful orange and red sunset and after dinner we had a very quick walk through the gardens down to the top of the beach then to bed for a well-earned sleep. Saturday morning started with an ample breakfast, a peaceful walk on the vast sandy beach, in windless sunshine before we headed off the Sandringham to visit the Queen. Unfortunately she was not in residence at the time, but we had a tour of the stately rooms… Light lunch at Sandringham then a swift drive back to London. A memorable trip which seemed longer that the two days duration. A clear indication of how good company, good food, good conversation in a beautiful setting seems to last longer than you think. Thank you Rosa Maria and Anthony for organising such a wonderful trip.