I’ve been privileged enough to have looked round a few Royal residences in my time, but Sandringham was a relative unknown to me, until recently. One of the lesser thought of Royal households perhaps, but equally as charming from what I saw on the outside at least. Better still it is one of the most accessible with the Royal Park free for families to enjoy with their furry friends. Originally, I hadn’t planned to venture further than the great pines that adorn the immediately enticing Royal Park, but on arrival it appeared that the official gardens were also open to view, so of course I couldn’t deny the opportunity that arose.
Sandringham is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 and there is evidence of a residence on the present site dating back as early as 1296. In 1862, Sandringham House and its then smaller estate was initially bought as a country home for Albert Edward, Prince of Wales at just 21 years of age as place to escape when duty allowed. It has remained as a firmly Royal residence ever since with King George VI expressing his love for the place and since then it has evidently remained a cherished place by the Queen and her family to this day.
Lapping up the sun in the Royal Park, we enjoyed a quick cuppa and a savoury snack from the café before making our way over to the big house and its 60 acres of formal gardens from which to wander, including the grounds St Mary Magdalene Church, commonly recognised as the place of worship attended by the Royal family every Christmas. This fragrant landscape was first opened to the public in 1908, but the stately abode wasn’t open to the public until 1977, opened by Her Majesty the Queen during her Silver Jubilee year.
The house is at the heart of the 8,000 hectare Sandringham Estate, which also includes the wooded playground of Sandringham Royal Park, open to the public free of charge year round. Visitors are able to enjoy two waymarked trails winding through this tranquil corner of Norfolk and for those that desire there is also a gift shop and garden centre, which I couldn’t help but browse, picking up a few sumptuous artisan goodies made using ingredients from the wider Estate for family far-away. Whether you visit the house and gardens or only the park, there is a day out for everyone.