Todays blog may well be a little shorter than those so far this week. This is partly due to a rather surreal turn of events this morning which I will explain tomorrow and has somewhat delayed me but also as yesterday we went to Sandringham House.
Sandringham is one of the homes that The Queen calls home although she normally only visits there in the Christmas and New Year period. Due to security issues, photos were no permitted inside the house. Additionally yesterday was the coldest, wettest and windiest day since early spring. It would be a bad day for sightseeing in November or January, let alone early September so we didn’t explore as much as we might have. Out of the 20,000 square acres in the grounds, we saw maybe 1 or 2 but they looked great with huge lawns cut so finely you could play bowls or snooker on them. There were also trees and statues from all round the world, this we saw just from the walk from the carpark to the house.
The original house here was all but demolished in the 19thC to make a home for members of the Royal Family of the time. It is an incredibly lavish home inside, full of fine jewellery and furniture. Many of the walls are adorned by paintings of 19th and 20th century figures. Some of the walls are full of old swords and helmets. There are hundreds of them, most of them from India from what I can tell. Later on, there were several cabinets of guns.
As regal and luxurious as the house might be, it is also very clearly a home. The house is full of things that everyone else might have. Lots of family photos, some handmade sewn cushions about being the queen and getting old. There was a large table with jigsaw puzzles all half completed. Next to the dining area was a huge silver gong with ivory horns from the 19th century. It looked incredible, such a shame I couldn’t take a photo.
At the end of the tourist route (we estimate we only saw one sixth of even an eighth of the house) was a large exhibition of photos of The Queen with various figures from President Kennedy to Prince William. There was also the largest jigsaw puzzle in the world with 40 or 42,000 pieces featuring scenes from the Queens celebrations in 2012 and a selection of the 100,000 cards she received.
Other facts we learnt is that, the Queen gets 30,000 birthday cards, she brings about 100 staff with her when she visits the palace and that they live in different parts of the house at different times of the day to follow the winter sun.
After the house we visited their house museum. There were dozens of cars from all periods including some fine Rolls Royces. There was also a history exhibition featuring about changes in the house and the people who work there.
By now it was raining more than ever so we did a hurried walk to the Sandringham Church. Again no photos were allowed on the inside, this is where The Royal Family goes at Christmas and it is often featured on television news how members of the public go and meet them outside the church. Inside is a beautiful, if very Victorian church with memorials to dead monarchs and their families. It had the most amazing and colourful stained glass windows and internal decoration.
Finally having checked out the tourist shops, we went to the restaurant where I snacked on the most tasty smoked bacon and brie baguette that I can remember.
On our way back to our holiday cottage we detoured to visit a ruined castle called Castle Rising. It was raining and windy so we only went to the draw bridge to take some photos and then headed back, making one more detour to an old church before reaching home.