Norfolk has a long tradition of attracting royalty, and there are plenty of places worth visiting to enjoy that royal feeling - without the royal price tag!
Photo: Andi Sapey. Courtesy Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.
Image: Sandringham Estate
Queen Elizabeth II has a country home – Sandringham House - located on the royal Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, and William and Kate have also made their home right here in Norfolk, at Anmer House.
Sandringham House & Gardens opens to the public from April.
Image: one of the rooms at The Assembly House
If you fancy channelling your inner royalty, then why not book a room at The Assembly House? Last year they opened their brand new rooms and they’re certainly fit for royalty: each room is individually decorated with its own character and style, and very luxurious. Plus you can take in Afternoon Tea (a tradition started by the Duchess of Bedford, who was a close friend of Queen Victoria) in their Georgian dining room.
The Assembly House is located on the heart of Norwich, 42 miles from Sandringham making it a great base for a short royal break.
Image: The Paston Suite at The Maids Head Hotel
The Maids Head Hotel has a long history of royal patronage – it is rumoured that Queen Elizabeth I herself stayed here on a visit. The Maids Head lays claim to being a place of hospitality since the early 12th century, when the early Norman Bishops of Norwich established a guest house. Its guests over the centuries have included The Black Prince (eldest son of King Edward III), Catherine of Aragon and Admiral Lord Nelson.
The Maids Head is situated in the Cathedral Quarter in central Norwich.
Image: Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery
Norwich Castle, overlooking the city from Castle Mound, was built 900 years ago as a palace for William the Conqueror. Its imposing structure really set it apart from other buildings at the time (most were, unsurprisingly, smaller and much more modest – often made of wood instead of stone). Today the Castle is a fantastic museum and art gallery, so there’s plenty to see, including collections of fascinating objects and artefacts spanning thousands of years!
The Bishop’s Garden, in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral, has a hebe shrub that was planted from a sprig taken from Queen Victoria’s wedding bouquet; she gave the sprig to the wife of the Bishop of Norwich back in 1840, and you can go and see the shrub that it’s grown into today! The Bishop’s Garden is open for special events in summer (for more details check their website).
Image: Norwich Cathedral library
The Queen recently paid a visit to the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, on the University of East Anglia’s campus (2 miles from Norwich), to see their fantastic Fiji: Life and Art in the Pacific exhibition – this exhibition has now ended, but there are plenty more exciting collections and events to enjoy in the coming months. An amazing Fabergé exhibition is due to open in autumn which will feature loans from The Royal Collection as well as from The Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, so schedule in a visit and stay tuned for more details!
Norwich Castle Study Centre houses six collections in Norwich: Archaeology, Costume & Textile, Decorative Art, Fine Art, Natural History and the Royal Norfolk Regimental Collection. There are millions of items in these collections and so much to see, but for Royal-enthusiasts their Costume & Textile collection will be of interest as it houses items of clothing which belonged to Marie Antoinette and Queen Victoria! View items associated with Queen Victorian here.
Image: Queen Victoria's shoes (approx 1881) from the Norfolk Museums
William and Kate's first public appearance since announcing their engagement back in 2010 was at the Thursford Collection, for the Norfolk attraction’s Christmas Spectacular, and they have visited several times since then - a great choice!
And finally the Queen always hosts Christmas for her family at Sandringham, presenting the opportunity for well wishers to visit the estate to greet the family as they head to their annual church service at Church of St. Mary Magdalene on Christmas Day.
For more information about Norfolk’s Royal Links check out our blog post here.
Abellio Greater Anglia have Advance fares from £9 one way between London Liverpool Street and Norwich. Trains run every 30 minutes. Greater Anglia also serves Colchester, Ipswich and Diss on the Norwich line. Direct trains also run from Cambridge.
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