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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. The house stands within a 20,000-acre (8,100 ha) estate in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Sandringham House
Sandringham - - 1062504.jpg
"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 Edward VII
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

The original house on the site was Georgian, constructed in 1771.

In 1862, the estate was purchased for King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, as a country home for himself and his soon-to-be wife, Princess Alexandra of Denmark. Between 1870 and 1900, the house was almost completely rebuilt in a style described by Pevsner as "frenetic Jacobean". Edward VII also developed the estate, creating one of the finest shoots in England.

Following King 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 King Edward VIII and at the abdication, as the private property of the monarch, was purchased by Edward VIII’s brother, King George VI. George VI 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.

The estate then passed to his daughter Queen Elizabeth II. In 1957 she gave her first televised Christmas message from the house. In the 1960s, plans were drawn up to demolish the house entirely and replace it with a modern structure but these were not acted upon. In 1977, the year of her Silver Jubilee, the Queen opened the house and estate to the public for the first time. The house, the landscaped gardens, park and woodlands are listed Grade II* on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.[2]



Early historyEdit

The site has been occupied since the Elizabethan era, and, in 1771, architect Cornish Henley cleared the site to build Sandringham Hall.[3] The hall was modified during the 19th century by Charles Spencer Cowper, a stepson of Lord Palmerston, who added an elaborate porch and conservatory, designed by architect Samuel Sanders Teulon.[4]

The Marlborough House settingEdit

In 1862, the hall was purchased by Queen Victoria at the request of the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII) as a home for himself and his bride, Princess Alexandra,[5] who found the surrounding Norfolk countryside reminiscent of her native Denmark.[6] The price paid, at £220,000, was high.[7] By 1865, two years after moving in, the prince found the hall's size insufficient for his needs, and he commissioned A. J. Humbert to raze it and create a larger building.[8] Humbert was an architect favoured by the royal family, "for no good reason", according to the architectural historian Mark Girouard, and also undertook work for Queen Victoria at Osborne House[9] and at Frogmore House.[4] The resulting red-brick house was completed in late 1870 in a mix of styles. One part of the house was destroyed in a fire during preparations for the Prince of Wales's 50th birthday in 1891, and later rebuilt.[10]

Queen Victoria only twice visited the house she had paid for.[11]

King Edward VII died at Buckingham Palace in 1910 and Sandringham has remained a popular retreat for successive monarchs.[1] Victoria, Princess Royal, the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria, sister of King Edward VII, and mother of Kaiser Wilhelm II, had a country house built at Friedrichshof, near Kronberg, in the style of Sandringham.

"Dear old Sandringham"Edit

Queen Alexandra continued to occupy the "big house" at Sandringham after the death of her husband King Edward VII in 1910, dying there in 1925. From the time of his accession until his mother's death, George V used York Cottage in the grounds, suffering from rather "cramped" conditions.[12] After his death in 1936, the house was inherited by King Edward VIII. Edward VIII ultimately spent a single night of his reign at the house. On his abdication, as Sandringham, along with Balmoral Castle, was the private property of the monarch and not part of the Crown Estate, it was necessary for King George VI to purchase both properties from his brother. George VI, like his father, died at Sandringham, in 1952.

Queen 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 the house, and use it as her official base from Christmas until February. In 1957, the Queen made her first televised Christmas broadcast from the house.[13] 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.[10] The plans were not taken forward although modernisation of the interior of the house was carried out by Hugh Casson, who also decorated the Royal Yacht, Britannia.[10] In 1977, the year of her Jubilee, the Queen opened the house to the public.[14]

Architecture and descriptionEdit

Charles Cowper's original seven-bay house was found to be too small and, plans for expansion having been abandoned, A J Humbert was commissioned to construct a new house.[8] Only the conservatory from Teulon's mansion was retained.[8] Humbert was an architect patronised by Queen Victoria, and had designed St Mildred's Church, Whippingham, near the queen's Osborne House estate on the Isle of Wight. The main features of the new building were bay windows, which helped lighten the interior. Despite the size of Sandringham and the spaciousness of the main rooms, the living quarters were relatively small.[1] The new building incorporated the galleried entrance hall which is used by the royal family for entertaining and family occasions. The building was ahead of its time in amenities, with gas lighting, flushing water closets, and an early form of shower.

Despite rebuilding, the house still failed to provide accommodation sufficient for the Royal couple's needs, and in 1883 a new extension, the Bachelors' Wing which incorporated a ballroom,[1] was constructed to the designs of a Norfolk architect, Colonel R. W. Edis.[8] Following the 1891 fire, Edis undertook further extensions, attempting to harmonise both with Humbert's original house, through the use of a Jacobethan style, and matching brickwork with Ketton stone.[8] Edis also built a billiard room and converted the old conservatory into a bowling alley,[8] after the Prince of Wales had been impressed by a similar example at Trentham Hall.[11]

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 and the billiard room.[15] The saloon is the largest room in the house and acts as the main reception room.[15] 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.[15] The walls of the corridors connecting the principal rooms display a significant display of Oriental and Indian arms and armour,[16] collected by Edward VII on his tour of the East in 1875-1876.[17] 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".[17] The room contains portraits of Queen Alexandra and her daughters, Princess Louise, Princess Victoria, and Princess Maud of Wales, by Edward Hughes.[18]


The house has not been admired by architectural critics; Simon Jenkins describes it as "unattractive", with a "grim, institutional appearance".[1] Pevsner considers the style "frenetic",[8] while Girouard expressed himself perplexed as to the preference shown by the Royal family for A. J. Humbert.[9] 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".[12] The fittings and furnishings were no more highly regarded; the biographer of George V, Kenneth Rose, records that, "except for some tapestries given by Alfonso XII of Spain, Sandringham had not a single good picture, piece of furniture or other work of art".[19]


The Sandringham estate has some of the finest shoots in England, and is used for royal shooting parties.[12] Such was Edward VII's fondness for hunting on the estate, he ordered all the clocks to be set half an hour ahead of GMT to increase the amount of evening daylight available for hunting. This tradition of Sandringham Time was kept on the estate from 1901 until 1936 when it was reversed by the new King Edward VIII.[20]

The grounds provided room for Queen Alexandra's menagerie of horses, dogs, cats, and other animals. The kennels were a particular delight to the children.[21] In addition to stables 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.

York CottageEdit

York Cottage

The estate is also home to York Cottage, built by Edward VII soon after he moved in. York Cottage was also a favourite of George V.[22] York Cottage is now the Estate Office for the Sandringham Estate.

Anmer HallEdit

Anmer Hall is a Georgian house on the grounds. At one point it was the country home of the Duke of Kent.[23] It is now the country home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.[24]

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 came to love the house; in 1899 she described it in a letter, "Our little house is a perfect paradise, it all seems like a dream, that we are here at last, that it is so beautiful and light, every single room is so clean and fresh."[25] Their son, the future King Olav V of Norway, was born at Appleton House on 2 July 1903 .[26] The last inhabitants were King George VI and Queen Elizabeth who lived in the house during a visit to Norfolk during World War II.[25][26] The house was demolished in 1984.[25][26]

Public accessEdit

1969 Princess at Sandringham House

The house was first opened to the public in 1977, and there is a museum with displays of royal life and estate history that is also open to public.[27] About 600 acres (240 ha) are a country park or garden, open to the public.[27]

On 1 June 2007 the house and its grounds were designated as a protected site for the purposes of Section 128 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. The effect of the act was to make it a specific criminal offence for a person to trespass into the house or its grounds.[28]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Jenkins 2003, p. 530.
  2. ^ Historic England, "Sandringham House (1001017)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 23 December 2016 
  3. ^ "History: Sandringham official website". Archived from the original on 27 July 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Mackworth-Young & Ransom 1993, p. 31.
  5. ^ Harvey Eugene Lehman (13 October 2011). Lives of England's Reigning and Consort Queens. AuthorHouse. p. 617. ISBN 978-1-4634-3055-9. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  6. ^ Battiscombe, Georgiana Queen Alexandra (Constable, 1969) pg. 56
  7. ^ Rose 2000, p. 38.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Pevsner & Wilson 2002, p. 627.
  9. ^ a b Girouard 1979, p. 419.
  10. ^ a b c Pevsner & Wilson 2002, p. 628.
  11. ^ a b Mackworth-Young & Ransom 1993, p. 32.
  12. ^ a b c Aslet 2005, pp. 284-285.
  13. ^ Mackworth-Young & Ransom 1993, p. 1.
  14. ^ "History". Sandringham Estate. Retrieved 2017-11-26. 
  15. ^ a b c Mackworth-Young & Ransom 1993, pp. 3-9.
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b Mackworth-Young & Ransom 1993, p. 3.
  18. ^ Mackworth-Young & Ransom 1993, p. 5.
  19. ^ Rose 2000, p. 291.
  20. ^ "Royal Family website: Sandringham House". 
  21. ^ "Official website: Royal Kennels". 
  22. ^ Mackworth-Young & Ransom 1993, p. 13.
  23. ^ "Anmer Hall". Amner Social Club. 
  24. ^ Birchley, Emma (3 May 2015). "New Norfolk Home For Royal Family Of Four". Sky News. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  25. ^ a b c "Appleton House". 5 March 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2016. 
  26. ^ a b c Sandelson, Michael (28 October 2011). "Norway's Queen Maud in euthanasia speculations". The Foreigner. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  27. ^ a b "Norfolk extra". BBC. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  28. ^ "Home Office Circular 018 / 2007 (Trespass on protected sites - sections 128-131 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005)". GOV.UK. Home Office. 22 May 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2017. 


External linksEdit