Mentioned in the Domesday Book, the Estate was the birthplace of a certain Anne Boleyn, who is said to revisit this place every year on the anniversary of her execution. No doubt with her head held underneath her arm!
The impressive house is a red brick Jacobean mansion that sits within 55 acres of gardens and parkland.
In the 15th century it was owned by Sir John Falstof of Craistor who made his money in the 100 years war, and whose Coat of Arms is still on display here. It later came into the possession of the Boleyn family, and Sir Thomas Boleyn, later the Earl of Wiltshire, lived there with his wife Elizabeth between 1499 and 1505. It is believed that all of his three children, Mary, George and Anne were born here within those few years. The Norfolk air perhaps!
The house that stands there today was built on the site of the Boleyn house during the reign of James 1st in 1616 by Sir Henry Hobart, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. (Don’t ask).
Since the death in 1940 of the last private owner, Philip Kerr, the 11th Marquis of Lothian, the property passed to the National Trust in accordance with his bequest.
During World War 2 it was requisitioned by the R.A.F and served as the officers mess. Servicemen and women were billeted in Nissan huts within the grounds and Officers were accommodated in the nearby Blickling Village.
The Trust has done an excellent job in restoring the house to it’s magnificent former glory. Every room that is open to the public is impressive and the Library has a number of interesting and ancient books and manuscripts. The staff are generally very helpful and knowledgeable.
The house is open all year round and in common with some other National Trust properties, you almost need an economics degree to understand which applies to you, so I’m not even going to try to elaborate. Parking is free to members and £3 all day for non members.