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Enjoy a day fit for Royalty at Sandringham

Posted by Katy Peck on 30 October 2019
Related property: Barnham Broom
Enjoy a day fit for Royalty at Sandringham

“Dear Old Sandringham, the place I love better than anywhere else in the world”
- King George V.

The Royal Family has a selection of houses to choose from across the country; there’s Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Hillsborough Castle and, of course, the famous Balmoral Castle. However, visitors to Barnham Broom will have the chance to visit one of the most beloved – Sandringham.

Just 55 minutes’ drive down the A47 from Barnham Broom, Sandringham has been the private home of British Monarchs since 1862. It has been owned by four generations of the Royal family, starting with King Edward VII and leading all the way up to Queen Elizabeth II, and remains one of the family’s favourite retreats.

Although the gardens have been open since 1908, her Majesty the Queen only opened the house to the public in 1977; the year of her Silver Jubilee. Since then thousands of people have come to explore the park, admire the gardens and take a look inside the famous rooms. In fact, with so much to enjoy and discover, a visit to Sandringham is a must during your Norfolk holiday.

The House

Inside the House, visitors can view the very rooms that Her Majesty the Queen and members of the Royal Family spend a portion of every year, including Christmas and New Year. Only a few ground-floor rooms are open, but they provide a real insight into how the house is used as a real home. You might be surprised at how personal they feel!

The house we see now was first completed in 1870, with a ballroom added in 1881 and guest wing in the 1890s. The rooms are perhaps smaller than you’d imagine, but still contain much of the same items as they did in Edwardian Times. Family portraits hang on the walls, as well as a collection of oriental arms and armour, brought back from the Far East and India in the 19th Century. Many people say that the real highlight of each room are the guides, who are full of knowledge and always happy to answer questions. There is also a hand-held audio guide which takes you through each room, and a fun quiz for children (£1.50).

The house (along with the gardens and museum) are open between April and October.

The Gardens

The gardens at Sandringham cover 25 hectares and are open at the same time as the house. They are a glorious mixture of formal Edwardian planting and more recent, sweeping areas, bordered by shrubs and trees to create a garden full of texture and colour. Discover woodland walks, tranquil lakes, fields of spring flowers, avenues of rhododendrons, swathes of lavender and magnificent rose beds. Whether you visit in October for some dazzling Autumn shades, or stop by to admire the carpets of bluebells in June, this is a real treat for nature lovers and gardeners alike.

Highlights include the North Garden, Queen Alexandra’s summerhouse by the lake and many commemorative trees. In fact, the oldest tree in the garden is a veteran oak, said to be over 800 years old.

The Museum

There is a fascinating collection of items to discover as you peruse the Sandringham Exhibition and Transport Museum, which can be found in the former coach houses and stable block.  From the 1939 Merryweather fire engine to gifts given to The Queen on state visits, you’ll be amazed by the variety of pieces on display here. There’s also a short film that provides visitors with a brief insight into the history and day-to-day life at the Sandringham Estate.

The Transport Museum contains the Royal Car Collection, including the first ever car owned by a member of the Royal Family, purchased by the Prince of Wales in 1900. This is just the start of the impressive classic cars on display, which is also include some model cars gifted to younger Royals. Our personal highlight is a miniature replica of an Aston Martin DB007. This was the car used in the James Bond films Goldfinger and Thunderball, and comes complete with revolving number plate and water spray!

Sandringham Church

In one corner of the estate, you’ll find the church of St Mary Magdalene. Today this charming parish church is most famous for being a regular place of worship for the Royal Family and the Estate staff, hosting them for the annual Christmas Day service. It was also the location for the baptism of Princess Charlotte in 2015.

The church dates back to the 16th Century, and has been called one of the finest carrstone buildings in existence. The chapel itself is magnificently decorated, with carved angels framing the famous silver alter and reredos, which was presented to Queen Alexandra in 1910 by American magnate Rodman Wanamaker. The oldest part of the church is the Greek Font, which dates all the way back to the 9th Century. There is also a second font made from Florentine marble, and several panes of 16th Century stained glass. The church is open daily during the summer and autumn, and open for services throughout the year.

Café and tearoom

If you find yourself working up an appetite while exploring Sandringham, there are couple of options to choose from. Firstly, the Stables tearoom, which is open at the same time as the House, Museum and Gardens. You can find it opposite the museum, in a charming converted stable block. It’s also possible to sit outside in the sunny courtyard, perhaps with a cold drink or an ice cream. But even on colder days, their afternoon tea, cakes, scones and sandwiches make for a welcome treat.

Secondly, Sandringham Café and Coffee shop is just a short walk from the country park car park, and is a family business run by the Steward family. The café focuses on using locally sourced ingredients to create high quality, freshly cooked food. During the season they also sell lamb, pheasant, partridge and venison, all sourced from the estate. The Sandringham Café is open throughout the year, ready to welcome walkers and visitors with a hearty plate of warming food.

Country Park

In 1968, 142 hectares of the estate were designated as a Country Park, which has since been expanded to 243 hectares. This space is open throughout the year for visitors to enjoy, with free entry and parking. The Park is made up of a mixture of evergreen and deciduous trees, making it a pleasant place for a stroll no matter the season. The trees are mainly Corsican and Scots Pine mixed with Oak, Sweet Chestnut and Birch.

There are two marked Nature Trails around the park, one 1.5 miles and one 2.5 miles long. On top of this there are many additional woodland paths to explore, whether you’re after a relaxing stroll or a more challenging walk. The Country Park is also a lovely place for a dog walk. Dogs will love sniffing through the trees, meeting other canine friends and enjoying the open spaces. There’s also a tap and dog bowl at the end.

Younger guests will enjoy exploring the Adventure Play Area, which contains over 30 pieces of fun equipment, including swings, slides and a climbing wall. There’s also a Sculpture Trail, featuring 15 sculptures made from natural tree trunks.


There are numerous events held at Sandringham throughout the year. This includes the Sandringham Christmas Craft, Food & Gift Fair every November, which has become one of East Anglia’s top Christmas Fairs. With live music, ice skating, entertainment and over 300 exhibitors showcasing everything from handmade crafts to local produce, there’s plenty of festive fun to enjoy.

There’s also the Sandringham Game and Country Fair, usually held in September. Here, a selection of arenas all showcase a packed programme of events, from animal displays to motorbike stunts. There are also lots of chances for children to get involved, with crafts, falconry and much more.

Of course, this is just the start of the events on offer. From apple picking to monthly farmers markets, the varied programme runs throughout the year, and provides something for all ages. Find out more on the Sandringham website.

From breathtaking country walks to centuries of history, there’s always a good reason to pay a visit to Sandringham. Although a typical visit usually lasts between three and four hours, it’s possible to spend much longer exploring this famous stately home. Once you’re done, our guests can retreat back to our comfortable Barnham Broom property, to relax, unwind and plan their next day out.

Find out more about how you can stay at any of our UK and European properties here.

Katy Peck

Katy Peck

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