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  • Delve into the histories of some of Norfolk’s beautiful country houses, with a special focus on those still in private ownership

  • We will be the privileged guests of the owners of properties including the romantic moated manor houses of Elsing Hall and Hindringham Hall, and Sennowe Park, the impressive Edwardian home of Thomas Albert Cook

  • Discover fine examples of neo-Palladian architecture, including Holkham Hall and Houghton Hall, and explore beautiful gardens and grounds

“The focus of the visits and excursions was in each case excellent. Everything went extremely well”

- ACE customer on a previous Country Houses of North Norfolk tour
The sweeping landscapes and seascapes of this beautiful part of the country, with their endless vistas and wide skies, were populated in the 17th and 18th centuries by a series of remarkable country houses built for notable patrons of the arts – including Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester, builder of the spectacular Palladian mansion of Holkham, and Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first ‘Prime Minister’ and owner of Houghton Hall. 


These houses, and several others in our itinerary, are still owned by the descendants of those who built them. This tour will consider the histories of the owners and families who have shaped these great estates, as well as their art collections and architecture. Throughout, we will enjoy the hospitality that many of these fine Norfolk country houses were originally designed for, and have continued to offer during the course of their illustrious lives.


Both Holkham and Houghton showcase the work of William Kent, that eminent architect of buildings, landscapes and interiors who pioneered the Palladian style in 18th century Britain. A particular hidden treasure at Holkham Hall is its Library, “one of the most significant private collections in the world”, and we look forward to a special opportunity to view some items from the collection of rare books and manuscripts compiled by the Earls of Leicester. Still in the ownership of the Coke family, the Holkham estate is today a superlative example of a thriving rural enterprise building on its rich heritage and outstanding coastal location. 


Houghton Hall was built in the 1720s to house Walpole’s great collection of Old Master paintings, later sold to Catherine the Great. The estate is home to the Cholmondeley family who have in recent years commissioned a number of pieces of contemporary sculpture by artists including James Turrell for the 18th century parkland designed by Charles Bridgeman. We look forward to seeing these, as well as two striking temporary exhibitions: Antony Gormley’s spectacular installation Time Horizon, and works by renowned ceramicist Magdalene Odundo created especially in response to the Kent interiors. 


Our tour also looks to other eras that saw important country houses built in the countryside of North Norfolk. Other exclusive visits include Hindringham Hall, a moated Tudor manor house originally built for Martin Hastings, a courtier to Henry Fitzroy, illegitimate son of Henry VIII, using reclaimed stone from local monasteries that had been dissolved. We will explore the hall and its gardens, described in The Guardian as amongst the “Best Secret Gardens in the UK”.


A highlight of the itinerary will be a visit to Elsing Hall, a Grade I listed moated manor house built around 1740. Surrounded by charming gardens, it is one of the few remaining houses in Norfolk that boasts a traditional great hall open to the rafters. Also a private home, the hall underwent a renovation project that was awarded Best Renovation by the Norfolk Association of Architects in 2008.  


We also hope to visit Wiveton Hall, known as the setting for the BBC observational series Normal for Norfolk. The building’s exterior provides an exquisite example of the style archetypal to Norfolk, with its flint facing and Dutch gables, nodding to the county’s historical relationship with the Low Countries. 


Other highlights will include Mannington Hall, a moated medieval house not usually accessible to the public, and Voewood House, an exquisitely restored Grade II listed Arts & Crafts house designed to a rare ‘butterfly’ pattern and boasting unique interiors as well as lovely grounds. Meanwhile, Sennowe Park was built in the Edwardian era for Thomas Albert Cook, grandson of travel and holiday pioneer Thomas Cook, and is still a family home to his descendants. We look forward to refreshments served in the elegant Winter Garden following our exclusive tour with the owner.


This tour will be based at the four-star Pheasant Hotel, a comfortable and relaxing country house hotel close to Holt and Blakeney in the heart of North Norfolk.
This tour will be led by Andrew Taylor, BD, MA, a lecturer and experienced tour leader with expertise in the architecture and art collections of the English country house. He studied at the University of St Andrews, UEA and Birkbeck, University of London, and also works as a rare book dealer, researcher and cataloguer at Voewood House in Norfolk. Himself a resident of North Norfolk, Andrew looks forward to taking an ACE group behind closed doors as we explore this handpicked selection of private houses.

Tour Code

Included: accommodation based on sharing a superior twin or double bedded room, five breakfasts, one lunch, five dinners with water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.

Not Included: travel insurance, classic double room for single use supplement £195.

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