“Dear old Sandringham, the place I love better than anywhere in the world”, said King George V. We’re quite partial to a visit, too.

Love ‘em or not, the royals certainly love Norfolk – especially at Christmas. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was unfailingly seen greeting well-wishers outside Sandringham’s sixteenth-century church of St Mary Magdalene, having attended the Christmas Day service. It was as expected as the speech at 3pm. And so, this little corner of England, like Scotland’s Balmoral, will forever be synonymous with the monarchy.

The archetypal English country seat, with an imposing Victorian house at its heart, Sandringham Estate is an absorbing place to spend the day. Wander the ground floor rooms of Sandringham House (regularly used by the royal family) and admire interiors largely unchanged since the 1870s, dotted with the objets d’art of generations past. Stroll the sixty acres of formal gardens towards the ornamental lakes, past an incredible 800-year-old oak tree, and let the kids loose in the adventure playground.

With over 200 hectares of fragrant pine, mighty oak and sweet chestnut trees, the estate’s country park invites aimless ambling on sunny afternoons. Naturally, there’s a rather well-heeled café and gift shop, and petrol heads will also appreciate the chance to browse the estate’s collection of Royal cars, among them a dashing 1924 Daimler in which King George V zipped around the estate, and over the moors at Balmoral.

If you’ve made the trip from The Harper, consider taking the coast road back via ‘Sunny Hunny’ (Hunstanton to you and I) – the only west-facing resort on the east coast, and home from there via the Burnhams – all flint frontages, red-tiled roofs and tempting boutiques. We challenge you not to stop and spend.


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