Norfolk Adventures: Oxburgh Hall.

IMG_2146
It was a grey old day so the photos look a bit dreary, sorry!

“A family home, not a fortress,” is the quote that popped into my head as I caught sight of Oxburgh Hall for the first time – and, even with its moat and grand-looking gatehouse, it definitely felt welcoming.

In fact, I actually thought it looked rather romantic; in a sort of Gothic, wild on the (in this case very flat) moors, Healthcliff kind of way (I imagine in the summer when they sky is blue and the flowerbeds are blooming with colour, it would be more Mills and Boon).

Surrounded by countryside in the village of Oxborough, the hall is about an hour’s drive from Norwich. We decided to make a family trip with Mark’s parents who were visiting for the weekend (and who have National Trust memberships).

IMG_2165

History.

Built by rising courtier Sir Edmund Bedingfield in about 1482 – and still lived in by his descendants today – it is, apparently, a “fine example of a late medieval, inward-facing great house“. There’s a fantastic timeline history here, which is well worth a read whether you’re planning to visit or not.

The family have had some turbulent times and very mixed fortunes over the many years since the late 15th Century. At several points the house was neglected, with periods of near dereliction. It was rebuilt after a terrible fire during the Civil War and also survived the threat of demolition in the 1950s. In 1952, Lady Bedingfield gave the hall to the National Trust and it is now, thankfully, protected. It is currently undergoing more restoration work after the collapse of one of the courtyard windows in 2016 identified further problems but it is still open to the public.

IMG_2154

What can you see?

Much of the remodelling we can see today is the work of the Victorian 6th Baronet, Sir Henry Bedingfield, and his wife Margaret Paston.

Highlights include the King’s Room, where Henry VII stayed in 1487, embroidered hangings worked by Mary Queen of Scots and Bess of Hardwick (more about them here), the Queen’s Room, the library and the view from the roof.

IMG_6170 2

IMG_6152
There is also a much talked about cramped priest hole. It was enough to give the claustrophobic in me nightmares but I know it was a lifesaver in the late 16th century when, in upholding their Catholic faith, the Bedingfelds suffered. The small space, which would have been unlit at the time, was a refuge for a Catholic priest in the event of Oxburgh being searched. One of the guide’s said they could be in there for weeks at a time.

Let’s not forget outside, either. There are about 70 acres, including a walled garden, woodland walks and a den building area.

IMG_2215
View from the roof.

For children.

I really like the way the National Trust caters for their younger visitors. There was a picture treasure hunt for Freya to enjoy inside but also a conservationist set up in one of the rooms (not sure if this was just for March) who explained his job and then let her have a go at cataloguing a tea cup. She was really into it and even drew the pattern on the cup (proud mum moment).

IMG_6142

Freya is a proper people person and loves chatting to anyone who will standstill long enough to hear her out. I do think she sees the guides as a captive audience because we almost have to drag her away – luckily they were all very kind at Oxburgh and happy to indulge her (even when it was about the spaghetti bolognaise she had for tea the night before. Sorry!).

IMG_6157

Outside there were also work sheets and a bug hunt to enjoy as we strolled around the gardens and made the walk to the chapel in the grounds, which was also open to explore. Mark was also particularly keen to see the pet cemetery (too much Stephen King, maybe?).

My favourite thing.

I loved exploring inside but there was a definite “ooooh” when I spotted the reflection of the hall in the moat. I walked all the way round, taking photos at various points.

IMG_2229

IMG_2233

Entrance fee.

At the time of our trip, standard adult entrance was £6.10 (without GiftAid). You can find full details here.

My Top Tip: Don’t forget to visit the church of St John, which you can get to via the hall car park. I’ll be sharing some photos of it for My Sunday Photo this week so please pop back, if you’re interested.

CulturedKids
Fifi and Hop
Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Norfolk Adventures: Oxburgh Hall.

  1. That reflection really is beautiful, as are all of your photos. If I lived in the U.K. I would definitely get a membership for the National Trusts – I am so envious of all the amazing places you get to explore! Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

    Like

  2. Those reflections!! It really does look stunning – and I know my two would enjoy chatting to a conservationist, too. Thanks for sharing with #CulturedKids

    Like

  3. Hi Tara, I had an ‘ohhhhh’ moment too when I saw your photos of the reflection in the moat too! It’s like a mirror. What a wonderful place to visit, and great that the National Trust keeps things interesting for little ones. I’ve heard of hidy holes for priests before *shiver*, I would not have liked being a man of the cloth back in those days.

    xx

    Like

  4. I love that the National Trust caters to engaging little ones – makes history feel more connected for them. Although I’m sure I could sell my teens on the temptations of cataloging teacups to get them to visit this beautiful place! Wink wink! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles

    Like

  5. We visited Oxburgh Hall a couple of years ago. I loved it – a manageable size but still very impressive. I think my husband was keen to try our the priest’s hole but thought better of it in case he got stuck!
    #farawayfiles

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s