My first post on Holkham Hall told you about my visit to the great mansion, but a trip to Norfolk to see the Coke estates involves more than the Hall. There is a wonderful hotel on the grounds, with the very appealing name of The Victoria Inn. Click here. Of course, I could not resist.
Entrance to the Victoria Inn
On the evening after my visit to nearby Houghton Hall with the still limping hubby Ed, we met our trusty taxi driver who took us to the Victoria Inn for our long-reserved two-night stay. The Inn is part of the Holkham Estate, officially in Wells-by-the-Sea.
Victoria Inn from the road
When we went into the dining room, we found that most of the other residents had spent hours on the beach, sandy sun-burned, and in the case of the children, all tired from an exciting treat of a day. You will remember, July was an unusually warm month in England.
Ancient Antlers at The Victoria Lounge
The cuisine was excellent, local specialties for the most part. After dinner, despite his aching foot, we took a few turns around the quaint village, and investigated the local wine store which also carried a Norfolk-distilled English Whiskey.
The next morning, deferring to Ed's painful foot, we decided against a walk on the beach, and accepted the kind offer of a young Inn employee to drive us up to the house. The Victoria is at the beginning of the driveway, but it is almost a mile to reach the mansion. We were most appreciative, especially when he agreed to return for us later in the afternoon. Norfolk people are the BEST!!!
The House did not open for an hour or two, so we toured the Bygones Museum, in the outbuildings and stables near the Hall.
The Museum is an eclectic collection of objects from long ago and the recent past. Ed, former TV journalist and anchorman, enjoyed this bulky old TV camera. How well we remember it, now replaced with smaller digital HD descendants.
Many of the displays related to Coke of Norfolk's agricultural achievements. He was a great advocate of improvements in land, draining, fertilizing, and renewing the soil. Crop rotation was advocated, with a four year repeating cycle of planting root crops such as turnips, barley or oats the next year, then clover and grass for grazing and natural fertilization, and wheat in the fourth year, after which the cycle begins again.
The less accommodating side of estate life is represented by the devices used to prevent or catch poachers. The deer in the park, the birds in the bush, and the fish in the streams were carefully cultivated and reserved for the use of the estate owners.
The dairy was an important supplier of milk, cream, butter and cheese from the estate herds.
hand-pumped fire engine
To protect the hundreds of people (and animals) who lived and worked on the estate, many dealing with open fires, it was necessary to have fire-fighting equipment ready to use.
From horse-drawn carriages to a Rolls Royce, the museum was filled with vehicles of all sorts.
After a little snack at the lovely tea ship on the premises, we decided to ride (on a small electric bus) to the walled garden, where restoration of the glass-houses and the flower beds is underway
The ice house
On the way, we passed acres of lawn, a large lake, and many outbuildings. The renewal of the 6.5- acre walled garden is a relatively new project, expected to be finished in the next year or two.
I simply cannot resist photographing the roses.
Ed spent most of his time in the garden sitting on a convenient bench. I must say he was not up for the game of cricket on the lawn either. Not that we know the rules, but it certainly looked like the proper thing to do on a Sunday afternoon in Norfolk.
The following day we returned to London and I will relate those adventures soon. Would it tempt you if I hinted that I was about to visit the British Library?