As a county, Norfolk’s links with royalty go way back – here are some of our favourite Royal ‘ties’ that Norfolk can proudly boast about! Not forgetting of course that today, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge reside at Anmer Hall on the Queen’s Sandringham estate, close to Prince George’s nursery whilst Prince William works as a pilot for the East Anglia Air Ambulance.
Let’s start with somewhere I’m sure many of you have heard of: Sandringham House in West Norfolk has been the private home of four generations of British monarchs – Edward VII, George V, George VI and Elizabeth II. Queen Victoria purchased the house and estate in 1862 for Prince Edward (later Edward VII) and his wife Alexandra. The intimate house, museum, gardens and Country Park are open to the public, and are well worth a visit! You can see why the family loves to spend Christmas here every year!
More recently, Lady Diana Spencer (who later became the Princess of Wales) was born at Park House, which is situated on the Sandringham Estate, on 1 July 1961 and lived there until 1975.
Image: Sandringham Estate
William the Conqueror founded Norwich Castle as a Royal Palace. William II began the building of the stone keep in 1094, which was completed in 1121 – we’re quite impressed it only took 27 years! Henry I then stayed at the castle in 1103 and 1108, and he visited again in 1121 for a Christmas holiday.
Elizabeth I visited Norwich in 1578 and it’s widely rumoured that she stayed at The Maid’s Head Hotel. The hotel – dating back to the 1280’s - has had other royal visitors over the years, too, including Edward the Black Prince (son of Edward III) and Catherine of Aragon (first wife of Henry VIII).
Image: The Maids Head Hotel
Owned by the Boleyn family from 1499-1505, Blickling Hall is now a National Trust site. Charles II also visited in 1671 – it’s obviously fit for Royalty! The hall is said to be visited by the ghost of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII, on the anniversary of her death every year on 19 May – so if you’re visiting then make sure you keep your wits about you!
King George VI opened Norwich’s City Hall in October 1938 in an appearance which drew on of the largest crowds Norwich had ever seen. He also popped into Carrow Road on the same day to watch Norwich City FC play, becoming the first British monarch to watch a football league match! In the words of our city treasure Delia, “Let’s be ‘avin you!”
Watch the King and Queen opening City Hall in a lovely video on the East Anglian Film Archive website.
Norwich’s landmark Millennium building was officially opened by none other than HM The Queen, on 18 July 2002. Today the building acts as a unique community building which houses the Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library, various restaurants and cafes and some fantastic exhibition spaces, too – a real hub of activity.
Image: The Forum, St Peter Mancroft Church, City Hall and The Guildhall
Royalty has visited Great Yarmouth many times over the years! The Royal Yacht visited in 1912 with Princess Victoria and Prince George of Greece on board - they obviously enjoyed visiting as it came back again in 1993, this time with HM The Queen on board!
HRH Edward Prince of Wales officially opened The Haven Bridge in Great Yarmouth in 1930 and the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) visited Britannia Pier, Great Yarmouth in 1931.
This majestic museum will transport you back in time (it’s home to the largest collection of steam engines and organs in the world, among many other fascinating objects). The Thursford Collection hosted Prince William and Kate Middleton’s first public appearance since they announced their engagement, when they attended Thursford’s Christmas Spectacular in December 2010 – a fine choice!
Image: The Thursford Collection's Christmas Spectacular
This annual event, featuring hundreds of stands, shows and other entertainment, had its royal prefix granted by Edward VII in 1908. The 2016 event has come and gone but it’ll be back on 28 & 29 June 2017, so put the date in your diaries – it’s a Norfolk tradition!
Many thanks to Paul Dickson for providing this brilliant information.
Abellio Greater Anglia have Advance fares from £9 one way between London Liverpool Street and Norwich. Trains run every 30 minutes. Abellio also serves Colchester, Ipswich and Diss on the Norwich line. Direct trains also run from Cambridge.
East Midlands Trains runs services from Liverpool, Manchester and Nottingham.
Flights into Norwich served from Edinburgh, Manchester, Exeter, Aberdeen, Jersey*, Guernsey* and Amsterdam.