Holkham Hall is an 18th-century country house located next to the village of Holkham, on the north coast of the English county of Norfolk. This beautiful place was just a bit over an hours drive from my parents house in England and perfect for an afternoon outing. The hall was constructed in the Palladian style for Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester and has been their family home since then.
” It is the perfect English house from the Golden Age of the Grand Tour, surviving intact in its original setting and with the founding family still in custodianship.”
As we arrived at the huge estate we were greeted by a huge field and lake on our right and a wooded forest to the right. We had a stroll around the Huge Estate through the beautiful park surrounding it.
The gardens stand to the west of the lake and include: A fig house, a peach house, a vinery, and other greenhouses, all of which were quite empty at the end of Winter. Usually the gardens are filled with deer roaming around but I saw no sign of them that afternoon.
The external appearance of Holkham can best be described as a huge Roman Palace! However, Holkham is a Palladian house, and yet even by Palladian standards the external appearance is austere and devoid of ornamentation.
This can almost certainly be traced to Coke himself. The on-site, supervising architect, Matthew Brettingham, related that Coke required and demanded “commodiousness”, which can be interpreted as comfort. Hence rooms that were adequately lit by one window, had only one, as a second might have improved the external appearance but could have made a room cold or draughty. As a result the few windows appear lost in a sea of brickwork although they are symmetrically placed and balanced.
I read that these the yellow bricks of Holkham Hall were cast as exact replicas of ancient Roman bricks. On the ground floor, these walls are covered with small windows more reminiscent of a prison than a grand house. Even though this Hall is very impressive it does not have a “homely” feel the exterior. I do hope the interior looks different but that I had to leave to find out another day.