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Sandringham House is a country house in the parish of Sandringham, Norfolk, England. It is the private home of Queen Elizabeth II and was the location of the deaths of two monarchs: the Queen's father, George VI and her grandfather, George V. The house stands within a 20,000-acre (8,100 ha) estate in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The site was occupied since Elizabethan times when a large manor was constructed. This was replaced in 1771 by a Georgian mansion, for the owners, the Hoste-Henleys. In 1836 Sandringham was bought by John Motteux, a London merchant, who also owned property at Beachamwell in Norfolk and in Surrey. Motteux had no direct heir and, on his death in 1843, he left his entire estate to Charles Spencer Cowper, the third son of Motteux's close friend Lady Cowper. Selling the other Norfolk and the Surrey estates, Cowper embarked on a rebuilding at Sandringham, using the architect Samuel Sanders Teulon. Cowper lived an extravagant life and by the early 1860s the estate was mortgaged to the value of £89,000 and Cowper and his wife spent most of their time in Paris, following the death of their only child.

Sandringham House
distant view of large red-brick house in landscape
"Dear old Sandringham, the place I love better than anywhere else in the world."[1] King George V
Type House
Location near Sandringham, Norfolk, England
Coordinates 52°49′47″N 0°30′50″E / 52.82972°N 0.51389°E / 52.82972; 0.51389Coordinates: 52°49′47″N 0°30′50″E / 52.82972°N 0.51389°E / 52.82972; 0.51389
Built 1870–1892
Built for Albert Edward, Prince of Wales
Architect A. J. Humbert, Robert William Edis
Architectural style(s) Jacobethan
Listed Building – Grade II*
Official name: Sandringham House
Designated 18 September 1987
Reference no. 1001017
Sandringham House is located in Norfolk
Sandringham House
Location in Norfolk, England

In 1862 Sandringham and some 8,000 acres were purchased for Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, as a country home for himself and his fiancée, Princess Alexandra of Denmark. Between 1870 and 1900, the house was almost completely rebuilt in a style described by Pevsner as "frenetic Jacobean". Edward also developed the estate, creating one of the finest shoots in England. Following Edward VII's death in 1910, the estate passed to his second son and heir, King George V, who described the house as "dear old Sandringham, the place I love better than anywhere else in the world." It was the setting for the first ever Christmas broadcast in 1932. George V died at the house on 20 January 1936. The estate passed to his son Edward VIII and at the abdication, as the private property of the monarch, was purchased by Edward VIII's brother, George VI. George was as devoted to the house as his father, writing to his mother Queen Mary, "I have always been so happy here and I love the place". He died at the house on 6 February 1952.

On the King's death, Sandringham passed to his daughter Elizabeth II. It is the Queen's custom to spend the anniversaries of her father's death and of her own accession at the house. In 1957 she broadcast her first televised Christmas message from Sandringham. In the 1960s plans were drawn up to demolish the house entirely and replace it with a modern structure but these were not taken forward. In 1977, the year of her Silver Jubilee, the Queen opened the house and grounds to the public for the first time. Unlike the Royal palaces, such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, which are part of the Crown Estate, Sandringham and Balmoral Castle are the Queen's private homes. The house, the landscaped gardens, park and woodlands are listed Grade II* on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

Contents

HistoryEdit

Early historyEdit

 
The East frontage

Sandringham is recorded in the Domesday Book as "sant-Dersingham" and the land was awarded to a Norman knight, Robert Fitz-Corbun after the Conquest.[2] The local antiquarian Claude Messent, in his study, The Architecture on the Royal Estate of Sandringham, records the discovery of evidence of much earlier occupation on the estate, in the form of the pavements of a Roman villa.[3] In the Elizabethan era a manor was built on the site of the present house which, by the 18th century, came into the possession of the Hoste Henley family, descendants of Dutch refugees.[4] In 1771 Cornish Henley cleared the site to build a Georgian mansion, Sandringham Hall.[5] In 1834, Henry Hoste Henley having died without issue, the estate was bought at auction by John Motteux, a London merchant.[6] Motteux was also without heirs and bequeathed Sandringham to the son of his close friend, Emily Lamb, Lady Cowper, later the wife of Lord Palmerston.[7] At the time of his inheritance in 1843, Charles Spencer Cowper was a bachelor diplomat, resident in Paris. On succeeding to Motteux's estates, he immediately sold the other Norfolk and the Surrey properties and based himself at Sandringham.[8] He undertook extensions to the hall, employing Samuel Sanders Teulon to add an elaborate porch and conservatory.[9] Cowper's style of living was extravagant, he and his wife spending much of their time on the Continent, and within ten years the estate was mortgaged to the extent of nearly £90,000.[8] The death of their only child, a daughter Mary Harriette, from cholera in 1854 led the couple to spend even more time abroad and by the early 1860s Cowper was keen to sell the estate.[10]

Edward VIIEdit

In 1861 Queen Victoria's eldest son and heir Albert Edward, was approaching his twenty-first birthday. Edward's dissipated lifestyle had been greatly disappointing to his parents, and his father, Prince Albert, determined that marriage and the purchase of a suitable establishment were necessary to ground the Prince in country life and pursuits and lessen the influence of the "Marlborough House set"[a] with which he was involved.[12] Albert had his staff investigate some eighteen possible country estates that might be suitable, including Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire and Houghton Hall in Norfolk.[13] The need to act quickly was reinforced by the Nellie Clifden affair, when Edward's fellow officers smuggled the actress into his quarters – the possibility of a scandal was deeply concerning to his parents.[12] Sandringham Hall was on the list of the estates considered, and a personal recommendation to the Prince Consort from the Prime Minister Lord Palmerston, step-father to the owner, swayed Prince Albert. Negotiations were only slightly delayed by Albert's death in December 1861 – his widow declared, "His wishes – his plans – about everything are to be my law".[14] The Prince himself visited in February 1862 and a sale was agreed, which was finalised in October of that year.[15] Queen Victoria only twice visited the house she had paid for.[16][b] Over the course of the next forty years, and with the expenditure of considerable sums of money, Edward was to create a house and country estate that were described as "the most comfortable in England".[19]

The price paid for Sandringham, £220,000, has been described as "exorbitant".[20][21][c] This is questioned by Helen Walch, author of the estate's recent (2012) history, who shows the detailed analysis undertaken by the Prince Consort's advisers and suggests that the cost was not unreasonable.[15] In any event, the house was soon found to be too small to accommodate the Prince of Wales's establishment, following his marriage in March 1863, and the large number of guests he was required, and desired, to entertain. In 1865 two years after moving in, the Prince commissioned A. J. Humbert[23] to raze the original hall and create a much larger building.[24] Humbert was an architect favoured by the Royal Family, "for no good reason" according to the architectural historian Mark Girouard, and had previously undertaken work for Queen Victoria at Osborne House[25] and at Frogmore House.[9] The new red-brick house was complete by late 1870; the only element of the original house of the Henley Hostes and the Cowpers which was retained was the elaborate conservatory designed by Teulon in the 1830s.[26] Edward had this room converted into a billiard room.[26] A plaque in the entrance hall records the Prince's achievement; "This house was built by Albert Edward Prince of Wales and Alexandra his wife in the year of our Lord 1870".[27] The building was entered through a large porte-cochère, straight into the main living room, the saloon, an arrangement that was subsequently found to be inconvenient. The house provided living and sleeping accommodation over three storeys, with attics and a basement.[28] The Norfolk countryside surrounding the house particularly appealed to Alexandra, as it reminded her of her native Denmark.[29]

 
The Norwich Gates – a wedding present to Edward and Alexandra from the gentry of Norfolk

Within a decade, the house was again found to be too small [1] and in 1883 a new extension, the Bachelors' Wing,[1] was constructed to the designs of a Norfolk architect, Colonel R. W. Edis.[24] Edis also built a billiard room and converted the old conservatory into a bowling alley.[24] The Prince of Wales had been impressed by one he had seen at Trentham Hall[16] and the alley at Sandringham was modelled on an example from Rumpelheim, Germany.[30] In 1891, during preparations for the Prince of Wales's 50th birthday,[31] a serious fire broke out when maids lit all the fires in the second-floor bedrooms to warm them in advance of the Prince's arrival.[32][d] Edis was recalled to undertake rebuilding and further construction. As he had with the Bachelors' Wing, Edis tried to harmonise these additions with Humbert's house by following the original Jacobethan style, and by using matching brickwork and Ketton stone.[24] The house was up to date in its facilities, the modern kitchens and lighting running on gas from the estate's own plant,[34] and water being supplied from a water tower constructed by Edward at neighbouring Appleton, the highest point on the estate.[35] The tower was designed in an Italianate style by Robert Rawlinson and Alexandra laid the foundation stone in 1877.[36][e] The Prince's efforts as a country gentleman were approved by the press of the day; a contemporary newspaper expressed a wish to "Sandringhamize Marlborough House – as a landlord, agriculturist and country gentleman, the Prince sets an example which might be followed with advantage".[39]

The Royal couple's developments at Sandringham were not confined to the house; over the course of their occupation, the wider estate was also transformed. Ornamental and kitchen gardens were established, employing over 100 gardeners at their peak.[40] A large number of estate buildings were constructed, including cottages for staff, kennels, a school, a rectory and a staff clubhouse, the Babingley.[41] Edward also made Sandringham one of the best sporting estates in England, to provide a setting for the elaborate weekend shooting parties that became Sandringham's defining rationale.[42] To increase the amount of daylight available during the shooting season, which ran from October to February,[43] the Prince introduced the tradition of Sandringham Time, whereby all the clocks on the estate were set half an hour ahead of GMT. This tradition was maintained until 1936.[44][f] Edward's entertaining was legendary[46] and the scale of the slaughter of game birds, predominantly pheasants and partridges, was colossal. The meticulously-maintained game books recorded annual bags of between 6,000 and 8,000 birds in the 1870s, rising to bags of over 20,000 a year by 1900.[47] The game larder, constructed for the storage of the carcasses, was inspired by that at Holkham Hall and was the largest in Europe.[45]

 
Wolferton Station – used by the Royal Family and their guests to reach Sandringham House for over 100 years

Guests for Sandringham house parties generally arrived at Wolferton railway station, 2.5 miles distant from the house, travelling in royal trains that ran from St Pancras Station to King's Lynn and then on to Wolferton. The station served the house from 1862 until its closure in 1969.[48] Thereafter, the Queen travelled by car from King's Lynn.[49] Edward VII established the Sandringham stud in 1897, achieving considerable success with the racehorses Persimmon and Diamond Jubilee.[50] Neither his son nor his grandsons evinced as much interest in horses, although the stud was maintained, but his great-granddaughter, Elizabeth, has sought to match Edward's equestrian achivements and has bred a number of winners at the Sandringham Stud.[51]

On 14th January 1892, Edward's eldest son and heir, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, died of pneumonia at the house.[52] He is commemorated in the clock tower, which bears an inscription in Latin that translates as "the hours perish and will be charged to our account".[53] In April 1910 the King himself fell ill at Sandringham and died at Buckingham Palace on 6 May.[54]

George VEdit

In his will Edward VII left his widow £200,000 and a lifetime interest in the Sandringham estate.[55] Queen Alexandra's continued occupancy of the "big house" compelled George V, his wife, Queen Mary, and their expanding family to remain at York Cottage in the grounds, in rather "cramped" conditions.[56] Suggestions from courtiers that Queen Alexandra might move out were firmly rebuffed by the King; "It is my mother's house, my father built it for her".[57] The King also lacked the sociability of his father and the shortage of space at York Cottage enabled him to limit the entertaining he undertook, with the small rooms reportedly reminding him of the onboard cabins of his naval career.[58]

 
Memorial plaque to George V in the Church of St Mary Magdalene

The new King's primary interests, aside from his constitutional duties, were shooting and stamp collecting.[59][g] He was considered one of the best shots in England and his collections of shotguns and stamps were among the finest in the world.[61] Deeply conservative by nature, George sought to maintain the traditions of Sandringham estate life established by his father and life at York Cottage provided respite from the constitutional and political struggles that overshadowed the early years of George's reign. Even greater upheaval was occasioned by the outbreak of the First World War, a dynastic struggle that involved many of George's relatives, including the German Kaiser and the Russian Emperor, both of whom had previously been guests at Sandringham.[61][62][h] The estate and village of Sandringham suffered major loss when all but two members of the King's Own Sandringham Company, a territorial unit of the Fifth Battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment, were killed at Sulva Bay during the Gallipoli Campaign.[64] The story of the battalion was the subject of a BBC drama, All the King's Men.[65] A memorial to the dead was raised on the estate; the names of those killed in the Second World War were added subsequently.[66]

Following Queen Alexandra's death at Sandringham on 20 November 1925, the King and his family moved to the main house.[67] In 1932, George V gave the first of the royal Christmas messages from a studio erected at Sandringham. The speech, written by Rudyard Kipling, began, "I speak now from my home and from my heart to you all".[68] George V died in his bedroom at Sandringham at 11.55 p.m. on 20 January 1936, his death hastened by injections of morphine and cocaine, to maintain the King's dignity, and to enable the announcement of his death to be made in the following day's Times.[69] The King's body was moved to St Mary Magdalene's Church, a scene described by the late King's assistant private secretary, "Tommy" Lascelles. "Next evening we took him over to the little church at the end of the garden. We saw the lych-gate brilliantly lit (and) the guardsmen slung the coffin on their shoulders and laid it before the altar. After a brief service, we left it, to be watched over by the men of the Sandringham Estate."[70] Two days later, George's body was transported by train from Wolferton to London, and to its lying in state at Westminster Hall.[70]

Edward VIIIEdit

On the night of his father's death, Edward VIII summarily ordered that the clocks at Sandringham be returned to Greenwich Mean Time, ending a tradition of Sandringham Time begun by his grandfather over 50 years before.[71] Edward had rarely enjoyed his visits to Sandringham, either in his father's time or that of his grandfather. He described a typical dinner at the house in a letter to his then mistress Freda Dudley Ward, dated 26 December 1919; "it's too dull and boring for words. Christ how any human beings can ever have got themselves into this pompous secluded and monotonous groove I just can't imagine". In another letter, evenings at the "Big House" – Edward stayed at York Cottage with his father – were recorded as "sordidly dull and boring".[72] His antipathy to the house was unlikely to have been lessened by his late father's will, which was read to the family in the saloon at the house. His brothers were each left some £750,000 while Edward was bequeathed no monetary assets beyond the revenues from the Duchy of Cornwall. A codicil also prevented him from selling the late King's personal possessions; Lascelles described the inheritance as "the Kingship without the cash".[73][i]

Edward's concerns regarding his income led him immediately to focus on the expense associated with running his late father's private homes. Sandringham he described as a "voracious white elephant"[75] and he asked his brother, George, to undertake a review of the management of the estate,[76] which had been costing his father £50,000 annually by way of subsidies at the time of his death.[77] The review recommended significant retrenchments, and its partial implementation caused considerable resentment among the dismissed staff. Edward spent a single night of his reign at the house, bringing Wallis Simpson for a shooting party in October 1936.[78] The party was interrupted by a request to meet with the prime minister Stanley Baldwin and, having arrived on a Sunday, the King returned to Fort Belvedere the next day.[79] He never returned to Sandringham and, his attention diverted by the impeding crisis arising from his attachment to Wallis Simpson, within two months of his only visit to the house as King, he had abdicated.[80] On his abdication, as Sandringham and Balmoral Castle were the private property of the monarch and not part of the Crown Estate, it was necessary for King George VI to purchase both properties. The price paid, £300,000, was a cause of friction between the new King and his brother.[81][82]

George VIEdit

 
The statue of Father Time, visible from the bedroom in which George VI died, was purchased by his wife.

George VI had been born at Sandringham on 14 December 1895.[83] A keen follower of country pursuits, he was as devoted to the estate as his father, writing to his mother, Queen Mary, "I have always been so happy here".[84] The deep retrenchment planned by his brother was not enacted, although economies were still made.[85] His mother was at church at Sandringham on Sunday 3 September 1939, when the outbreak of the Second World War was declared.[86] The house was shut up during the war but occasional visits were made to the estate, with the family staying at outlying cottages. Post-war, the King made improvements to the gardens surrounding the house but, as traditionalist as his father, he made few other changes.[87] December 1945 saw the first celebration of Christmas at the house since 1938.[88] Lady Airlie recorded her impressions at dinner, "I sat next to the King. His face was tired and strained and he ate practically nothing. Looking at him I felt the cold fear of the probability of another short reign".[89]

A heavy smoker throughout his life, George had an operation to remove part of his lung in September 1951.[90] He was never fully well again and died at Sandringham during the early morning of 6 February 1952. He had gone out after hares on 5 February, "shooting conspicuously well",[91] and had planned the next day's shoot before retiring at 10.30 p.m. He was discovered at 7.30 a.m. in his bedroom by his valet, having died of a coronary thrombosis at the age of 56.[92] His body was placed in the Church of St Mary Magdalene, before being taken to Wolferton Station and transported by train to London, to lie in state at Westminster Hall.[93]

Elizabeth IIEdit

Since King George VI's death, Queen Elizabeth II's custom has been to spend the anniversary of that and of her own accession privately with her family at Sandringham House, and, more recently, to use it as her official base from Christmas until February.[94] In celebrating Christmas at Sandringham, the Queen follows the tradition of her last three predecessors, whereas her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, held her celebrations at Windsor Castle.[95] On her accession, the Queen asked her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, to take on the responsibility for the management of the estate.[96] The Duke has worked to move towards self-sufficiency,[97] generating additional income streams, taking more of the land in hand, and amalgamating many of the smaller tenant farms.[98]

In January 1957 the Queen received the resignation of the Prime Minister Anthony Eden at the house. Eden's wife, Clarissa, recorded the event in her diary, "8 January – Anthony has to go through a Cabinet and listening to Harold prosing for half an hour. Then by train to Sandringham. Many photographers. We arrive into the hall where everyone is looking at the television."[99] At the end of that year, the Queen made her first televised Christmas broadcast from Sandringham.[100] In the 1960s, plans were initiated to demolish the entire house and replace it with a modern residence by David Roberts, an architect who worked mainly at the University of Cambridge.[31] The plans were not taken forward, although modernisation of the interior of the house, and the removal of a range of ancillary buildings, were carried out by Hugh Casson, who also decorated the Royal Yacht, Britannia.[31] In 1977, the year of her silver jubilee, the Queen opened the house to the public.[5]

In addition to her equestrian interest in the Sandringham Stud, where she has bred a number of winning horses, the Queen has developed a successful gun dog breeding programme at Sandringham.[101] Following the tradition of a kennels at Sandringham established by her great-great grandfather, when Queen Alexandra kept over 100 dogs on the estate, the Queen prefers black labrador retrievers,[102] over the yellow type favoured by her father, and the terriers bred by her earlier predecessors.[103] Since his retirement from official duties in August 2017, the Duke of Edinburgh has spent increasing amounts of time at Wood Farm, a cottage on the Sandringham Estate used by the Duke and the Queen when not hosting guests at the main house.[104] Sandringham is one of the two homes owned by the Queen in her private capacity, rather than as head of state, the other being Balmoral Castle.[105]

Architecture and descriptionEdit

 
The porte-cochère to the saloon, with the entrance to Edis's ballroom on the left

The house is mainly constructed of red brick with limestone dressings, although Norfolk Carrstone is also prevalent, particularly in Eddis's additions.[106] The tiled roof contains nine separate clusters of chimneystacks.[107] The style is Jacobethan, with inspiration drawn principally from nearby Blickling Hall.[30][j] Construction was undertaken by Goggs Brothers of Swaffham.[84] The principal rooms of the house consist of the saloon, the drawing room, the dining room and the ballroom, together with various rooms devoted to sports, such as the gun room, or leisure, such as the bowling alley, now a library, and the billiard room.[109] The walls of the corridors connecting the principal rooms display a collection of Oriental and Indian arms and armour,[110] gathered by Edward VII on his tour of the East in 1875–1876.[111] Decoration of the house and the provision of furniture and fittings was undertaken by Holland and Sons in the 1870 rebuilding.[84]

SaloonEdit

The largest room in the house, the saloon is used as the main reception room.[109] The arrangement of entry under the porte-cochère direct into the saloon proved problematic, with no ante-room in which guests could remove their hats and coats.[28] Jenkins describes the decorative style, here and elsewhere in the house, as "Osbert Lancaster's Curzon Street Baroque".[1] The room contains portraits of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert by their favourite artist Franz Xaver Winterhalter.[109] The saloon functioned as a venue for dances, until the construction of the new ballroom by Edis,[112] and has a minstrels' gallery to accommodate musicians.[28] The room contains a weighing machine; Edward VII was in the habit of requiring his guests to be weighed on their arrival, and again on their departure, to establish that his lavish hospitality had caused them to put on weight.[28]

Drawing roomEdit

The drawing room is described by Jenkins as "the nearest Sandringham gets to pomp".[1] On one of her two visits to the house, Victoria recorded in her journal that, after dinner, the party adjourned to, "the very long and handsome drawing room with painted ceiling and two fireplaces".[111] The room contains portraits of Queen Alexandra and her daughters, Princess Louise, Princess Victoria, and Princess Maud of Wales, by Edward Hughes.[113] White marble statues complete what has been described as a "tour de force of fashionable late-Victorian decoration".[84]

BallroomEdit

The ballroom was added by Edis in 1884, to overcome the inconvenience of having only the saloon as the major room for entertaining. As it was also the main family living room, it had previously been necessary to remove the furniture when the saloon was required for dances and large entertainments. Alexandra recorded her delight at the result, "Our new ballroom is beautiful I think & a great success & avoids pulling the hall to pieces each time there is a ball or anything".[114] At the time of Queen Victoria's visit in 1889, the room was used for a theatrical performance given by Sir Henry Irving and Ellen Terry.[115] The present Queen uses the room for entertainments and as a cinema.[114]

Dining roomEdit

 
The dining room

The walls of the dining room are decorated with Spanish tapestries including some by Goya, a gift from Alfonso XII of Spain.[116] The walls themselves are panelled in oak, painted light green for Queen Mary who had been inspired by a visit to a Scottish castle.[77][k] Jill Franklin's study of the planning of Victorian country houses includes a photograph of the dining room at Sandringham with the table laid for dinner for twenty-four, a "very usual" number to seat for dinner in a major country house of the time.[117]

AppreciationEdit

Sandringham House has not been admired by critics. Its chief fault is the lack of harmony between Humbert's original building and Edis's extensions, "a contrast between the northern and southern halves of the house (that) has been much criticised ever since".[33] The architectural historian John Martin Robinson wrote in 1982, "Sandringham, the latest in date of the houses of the British monarchy, is the least distinguished architecturally".[30] In his biography of Queen Mary, James Pope-Hennessy compared the house, unfavourably, to "a golf-hotel at St Andrews or a station-hotel at Strathpeffer".[42] Simon Jenkins considered Sandringham "unattractive", with a "grim, institutional appearance".[1] Pevsner described the architectural style as "frenetic",[24] while Girouard expressed himself perplexed as to the preference shown by the Royal Family for A. J. Humbert.[25] An article on the house in the June 1902 edition of Country Life opined, "of mere splendour there is not much, but of substantial comfort a good deal".[17] The writer Clive Aslet suggests that the sporting opportunities offered by the estate were the main attraction for its royal owners, rather than "the house itself, which even after rebuilding was never beguiling".[56] The fittings and furnishings were also criticised; the biographer of George V, Kenneth Rose, wrote that, "except for some tapestries given by Alfonso XII,[l] Sandringham had not a single good picture, piece of furniture or other work of art".[118][m] In the series of articles on the house and estate published in 1902 by Country Life to celebrate Edward VII's accession, the author noted the Royal Family's "set policy of preferring those pictures that have associations to those which have merely artistic merit".[42] Notable exceptions came to include some of the collection of mainly 20th century English art assembled by the Queen Mother, including works by Edward Seago and John Piper, who produced a view of Sandringham; [120][121][n] and the extensive holding of works by Fabergé assembled by Queen Alexandra and later members of the family.[122][o]

While not highly regarded as architecture, Sandringham is a rare, remaining example of a full-scale Victorian country house, described in the magazine Country Life as "lived in and beautifully maintained, complete with its original contents, gardens and dependent estate buildings".[84] The house, the landscaped gardens, park and woodlands are listed Grade II* on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, Grade II* being the second-highest listing, reserved for "particularly important buildings of more than special interest".[107]

GardensEdit

 
The Upper Lake and The Nest

The gardens and country park comprise some 600 acres (240 ha) within the wider estate[123] with the gardens themselves extending to 49 acres (20 ha).[124] They were predominantly laid out from the 1860s, with later alterations and simplifications. Edward VII sought advice from William Broderick Thomas and Ferdinand de Rothschild, a friend and adviser to the King throughout his life. The original lake was filled and replaced with the elaborate parterres fashionable at the time. These have since been removed.[125] Two new lakes were dug further from the house, and bordered by rockeries constructed of Pulhamite stone.[126] A summerhouse, called The Nest, stands above the Upper Lake, a gift in 1913 to Queen Alexandra from the comptroller of her household, General Sir Dighton Probyn.[127][p] The gardens to the north of the house, which are overlooked by the suite of rooms used by George VI, were remodelled and simplified by Geoffrey Jellicoe for the King and his wife after the Second World War.[128][129] A statue of Father Time, dating from the 18th century, was purchased by the Queen Mother and installed in 1951.[130][q] Further areas of the gardens were remodelled by Sir Eric Savill in the 1960s for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.[133] The extensive kitchen gardens, which in Edward VII's time included carriage drives to allow guests to view the "highly ornamental" arrangements,[107][r] were also laid to lawn during the present Queen's reign, having proved uneconomic to maintain.[135]

Wider estateEdit

 
The Museum housed in the former coach house and stables

The 20,000 acre[123] Sandringham estate has some of the finest shoots in England, and is used for royal shooting parties.[56] Covering seven villages, the estate's main activities, aside from tourism, are arable crops and forestry.[136] The grounds provided room for Queen Alexandra's menagerie of horses, dogs, cats, and other animals.[137] In 1886 a racing pigeon loft was constructed for birds given to the Duke of York by King Leopold II of Belgium and one or more lofts for pigeons have been maintained ever since. The Norwich Gates, designed by Thomas Jeckell[138] and made by the local firm of Barnard, Bishop and Barnard, were a wedding present for Edward and Alexandra from "the gentry of Norfolk".[25] In 2007 Sandringham House and its grounds were designated a protected site under Section 128 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. This makes a criminal offence for a person to trespass into the house or its grounds.[139] The Sandringham estate has a museum in the former coach house with displays of Royal life and estate history.[123] The museum also houses an extensive collection of Royal motor vehicles including a 1900 Daimler owned by Edward VII and a 1939 Merryweather & Sons fire engine, made for the Sandringham fire brigade which was founded in 1865 and operated independently on the estate until 1968.[140] The coach house stables and garaging were designed by A. J .Humbert at the same time as his construction of the main house.[107] The estate contains a number of houses with close links to the Royal Family.

Anmer HallEdit

Anmer Hall is a Georgian house on the grounds, purchased by the Prince of Wales in 1896.[141] Formerly occupied by the Duke of Kent,[142] it is now the country home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.[143]

Appleton HouseEdit

When Prince Carl of Denmark (later King Haakon VII of Norway) and Princess Maud were married in July 1896, Appleton House was a wedding gift to them from the bride's parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales. Queen Maud became fond of Appleton, "our little house is a perfect paradise",[144] and their son, the future King Olav V of Norway, was born at the house in 1903.[145] The last inhabitants were King George VI and Queen Elizabeth who stayed there during a visit to Norfolk during World War II, when Sandringham was closed up.[144] Lascelles considered it "an ugly villa, but not uncomfortable".[146] The house was demolished in 1984.[144]

Park HouseEdit

 
York Cottage

Constructed by Edward VII,[147] Park House has been owned by the Royal Family for many years.[148] The birthplace of Diana, Princess of Wales[149] when the house was let to her father, it is now a hotel managed by the Leonard Cheshire charity.[150]

Wood FarmEdit

Wood Farm has been part of the Sandringham Estate since the time of Edward VII. In the early 20th century, it was home to Prince John, the youngest of George V and Queen Mary's six children. Born in 1905, the Prince was epileptic, and spent much of his life in relative seclusion at Sandringham.[151] He died at Wood Farm, his home for the last two years of his life, on 18th January 1919.[152] In the present Queen's reign, the farm has been used for hosting guests and as a retreat for Prince Philip and herself; since his retirement from official duties in 2017, it has been occupied by the Prince.[153]

York CottageEdit

York Cottage, originally known as Bachelors' Cottage, was built by Edward, Prince of Wales, soon after he acquired Sandringham to provide additional accommodation for guests.[154] It was home to George V from 1893 until his mother's death enabled him to move into the main house in 1925.[127][s] The cottage was no more highly regarded architecturally than the main house; Harold Nicolson described it as a "glum little villa (with) rooms indistinguishable from those of any Surbiton or Upper Norwood home".[156][t] James Pope-Hennessy, the official biographer of Queen Mary, was even less impressed, "Tremendously vulgar and emphatically, almost defiantly hideous".[157] York Cottage is currently the estate office for the Sandringham Estate.[158] Although some press reports have suggested that the Queen has given it as a wedding present to the the Duke and Duchess of Sussex,[159][160] other commentators dismiss the claim as "utter nonsense".[161]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ The Marlborough House set consisted of a group of Edward's friends, many of whose whose backgrounds or faith made them socially unacceptable in mid-Victorian England. The Countess of Warwick, a mistress of Edward, recalled her class's dislike of the Prince's many Jewish friends, "We resented the introduction of the Jews into the social circle of the Prince of Wales … because they had brains. As a class, we did not like brains."[11]
  2. ^ The architectural historian John Cornforth suggests that the purchase was in fact funded by the Prince himself, "out of the capital skilfully built up for him during his minority by his father".[17] A. N. Wilson, in his biography of Queen Victoria, is clear that the Queen paid the bill.[18]
  3. ^ While exact comparisons are difficult, the Bank of England's inflation calculator suggests a 2017 equivalent value in the order of £25M.[22]
  4. ^ Although the damage, through the collapse of the roof and by smoke and water, was considerable, Humbert's efforts during construction to make the house fire-proof, combined with the efforts of the estate fire brigade, averted greater loss.[33]
  5. ^ Both Pevsner[31] and Messent[37] record the Appleton Water Tower as being designed by Martin ffolkes, a civil engineer and friend of the Prince who lived at Hillington near Sandringham. The tower, now restored, is managed by the Landmark Trust.[38]
  6. ^ The clocks were reset to Greenwich Mean Time during the two visits to the house made by Queen Victoria who considered the practice "a wicked lie".[45]
  7. ^ James Lees-Milne, biographer of Harold Nicolson, who was in turn the biographer of George V, recorded Nicolson's despair at how he would cover the period in the King's life between his retirement from the Navy and his accession: "How was he to deal with the long blank of the King's life..? During this time the Prince, as he then was, merely shot partridges and stuck stamps into albums. For seventeen years...he did absolutely nothing worthwhile at all".[60]
  8. ^ The Kaiser's visit, in November 1902, was neither a social nor a political success, King Edward commenting on his guest's departure, "Thank God he's gone".[63]
  9. ^ Lascelles's final verdict on the man he had served as Prince of Wales and King was damning, "I wasted the best years of my life in (his) service".[74]
  10. ^ There are also similarities with Somerleyton Hall, built some 30 years before in neighbouring Suffolk. That house was used as the stand-in for Sandringham House in the 2003 television drama The Lost Prince, about the life of Prince John.[108]
  11. ^ A 2008 article in the magazine Country Life suggests that the decoration was undertaken for Queen Elizabeth in 1938, following a visit to Braemar Castle.[84]
  12. ^ These were the Goya tapestries hung in the dining room.[116]
  13. ^ Writing of the redevelopments at Buckingham Palace undertaken by George V, and previously by Edward VII, the architectural historian John Martin Robinson noted that, "the King had no more aesthetic sensibility than his father and expressed impatience with his wife's keen interest in furniture and decoration".[119]
  14. ^ John Piper's sombre palette did not always find favour with Queen Elizabeth or her husband, George VI remarking, "You seem to have very bad luck with your weather, Mr Piper".[121]
  15. ^ The Royal Collection of Fabergé is the world's largest and includes representations of farm animals from the Sandringham estate commissioned by Edward VII as presents for his wife.[122]
  16. ^ Sir Dighton was devoted to Queen Alexandra and the summerhouse bears an inscribed plaque: "The Queen's Nest – A small offering to The Blessed Lady from Her Beloved Majesty's very devoted old servant General Probyn 1913 – Today, tomorrow and every day, God bless her and guard her I fervently pray".[127]
  17. ^ Sir Robin Mackworth-Young's 1993 guide suggests the statue was purchased by Queen Mary[131] but both Walch and Titchmarsh disagree.[132]
  18. ^ The Prince of Wales liked to claim that the development of the kitchen gardens was entirely funded from his racing winnings. When showing guests around, the Prince would murmur, "Persimmon, all Persimmon".[134]
  19. ^ In discussing his father with Harold Nicolson, when the latter was working on the late King's biography, Edward VIII, by then Duke of Windsor, remarked "Until you have seen York Cottage you will never understand my father".[155]
  20. ^ Nicolson recorded his particular disdain for the Royal bathing arrangements: "Oh my God! what a place. The King's and Queen's baths had lids that shut down so that when not in use they could be used as tables."[60] "It is almost incredible that the heir to so vast a heritage lived in this horrible little house."[155] Nicolson's strictures did not appear in his official biography of the King.

ReferencesEdit

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SourcesEdit

External linksEdit