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Round the houses

2 April 2018

North Norfolk’s stately homes are set for a busy spring with everything from contemporary art shows to immersive theatre. Harriet Cooper takes the tour

Thomas Coke 1st Earl of 1st creation by Trevisani © Holkham Estate

Holkham Hall

‘Treasures and Trophies: The Making of a Gentleman and a Great House’ at Holkham Hall, is one for the to do list. The interactive exhibition marks the 300th anniversary since Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester, returned from his Grand Tour of Europe, a journey that was to inspire the building of the Hall. Wander round the State Rooms to uncover the fascinating stories behind Thomas’s epic travels and their influence on the Palladian-style mansion and its impressive collection of paintings, sculptures and rare books.

This year also marks the 200th anniversary of the death of renowned landscape gardener, Humphry Repton and visitors will also be able to learn more about his work in Holkham Park.

Need to know 25 March to 31 October (Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays, 12pm to 4pm). £16 adults (includes entry to the Field to Fork Experience and Walled Garden), £8 children.

Damien Hirst’s English Lilac (2016), household gloss on canvas © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd

Houghton Hall

Damien Hirst fans will be delighted that a never-before-seen series of his paintings, entitled Colour Space, will be on display at Houghton Hall from 25 March. The works, a development of Hirst’s iconic spot paintings, will temporarily replace the old masters, which normally hang in the State Rooms. The exhibition will also see a number of the artist’s most celebrated and visually-arresting sculptures displayed throughout the 18th century house and gardens. To coincide with the show, Norfolk By Design’s Pop-Up Shop will be open in the Stables, with a selection of new work by more than 40 of Norfolk’s finest artists and craftspeople (

Need to know 25 March to 15 July (Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, 11am to 5pm). £18 adults, children free.

The Cabinet Room, Felbrigg © National Trust Images

Felbrigg Hall

Join Felbrigg for its wild and exotic season, an opportunity to explore the curiosities brought to the hall by generations of inhabitants following their adventures around the globe. Visit the Service Wing, where theatre designer Gary McCann has created four cabinets to showcase these weird and wonderful souvenirs. Outside in the walled gardens – which once grew pineapples and melons – there’s an unusual array of plants, plus there’ll be garden trails, and weekly garden tours from mid-March.

To top it off, you can also see the progress of the restoration of Felbrigg’s Cabinet Room, where William Windham II displayed objects acquired during his four year Grand Tour in the 18th century.

Need to know On display throughout the 2018 season (open daily, 11am to 5pm). Standard admission.

Librarian John Gandy at Blickling © Antony Kelly

Blickling Estate

Award-winning theatre company Les Enfant Terribles has been commissioned by the National Trust to create an immersive art installation that will highlight not only Blickling’s extensive library (currently undergoing a five-year conservation programme), but also the importance of books and their shifting role in a changing world. Set to open in May, visitors can admire a series of installations around the house and grounds, using sound and theatrical design, which will make you question what the world would be like without books.

Need to know 1 May to 28 October (open every day, 12pm to 5pm). Standard admission.

The Red Saloon, Raynham Hall

Raynham Hall

Music lovers are in for a treat. Raynham will host another series of musical recitals this year in its magnificent Marble Hall, under the direction of musical advisor Michael Chance CBE. The first is Monteverdi’s short opera Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, on 28 April at 7pm. Tickets from £30.

Need to know Raynham is also hosting three open days this year (4 April, 20 June and 5 September), giving visitors the chance to have an exclusive tour of this private house with interiors designed by William Kent. £30, book in advance.

All tickets from 01328 862133 or