Visiting Sandringham House

August 9, 2016

By Tab Byrum

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Back in April, I did several posts focusing on the houses and castles Queen Elizabeth calls home, Sandringham House is one of those homes and we were able to visit it in person during our vacation in England. Our friends, the Potts’ were visiting the Harry Potter exhibit north of London so Michael and I took a train out of London also headed north to Norfolk and the village of Kings Lynn. We traveled for about an hour and a half then took a short walk from the train station to the bus station where we caught a bus for the 20 or so minute ride to the Sandringham estate. Sandringham House sits on a 20,000-acre estate and it’s beautiful, everything is lush and green with huge ancient trees forming a canopy over carved out trails leading you to the house. The house is privately owned by Queen Elizabeth and is where she and the rest of her family traditionally spend their Christmas and New Year’s holiday.

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As your walking, you make a small turn and through the trees, you can see the rooftop of the beautiful old house, Sandringham House is not as big as you would think but definitely beautiful. Since Sandringham House is a private residence everything in the house is the personal property of Her Majesty so no photos are allowed to be taken in the house which I hate but totally understand, you can take all the photos you want of the grounds around the house as well as the museum that’s housed in the former stables. Join me for a look at Sandringham House and the grounds and to see some images of the interiors visit my story here from April, Enjoy!!!

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After leaving the visitor’s center you pass through a gate and follow the path to the main house, the edge of the path is lined with beautiful flowering bushes and grass, all this against a backdrop of huge trees and lush greenery. 

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This is your first full view of Sandringham as you come out of the woods, and this is actually the back of the house. All the rooms you can tour are on the main floor of the house and look out onto this area of the grounds.

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This is the front door if you will of Sandringham House and this is also where you enter the house to tour. When you enter the house you’re walking where Kings and Queens have walked for over 150 years. Just past the front door, there is a set of scales that everyone coming to Sandringham for a visit had to sit on. Your weight was taken and recorded in a book, then you were weighed again when you left to see how much weight you had gained, this was done to let you know how much good food and drink you had enjoyed while visiting Sandringham, can you imagine if we tried to do this today?

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This is the front drive and main entrance to Sandringham House, the house is full of priceless artworks as well as amazing antiques, porcelains, and furniture. The house is kept much the same as it was when the Prince and Princess of Wales (Edward VII & Queen Alexandra) first started living here in 1870.

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The British Royal Family have always been fond of horses, riding, and racing, this statue at the end of the main drive is an homage to that. The tree directly behind the statue was planted by Queen Victoria who had bought the Sandringham property for her son and his new bride in 1862. Queen Victoria only visited her son’s country home twice in her whole life and on one of those occasions she planted the tree. 

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There is a wonderful museum on the grounds of Sandringham with the main focus being on transportation and the many cars the Royal Family have owned and used over the years. 

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This is a complete working child’s car, it’s a replica of a 1960’s era Aston Martin convertible belonging to James Bond in the early movies. The car was a gift to Queen Elizabeth’s second sign, Prince Andrew when he was a little boy. Everything on the car works and it has several of the same gadgets that 007’s car had in the films.

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Sandringham is a country getaway and the Royals often hosted hunting parties, there have always been large cars such as this Ford kept on the estate to move people and supplies around during shoots. This car was the last one ordered by Queen Elizabeth’s father King George VI, he ordered the car in 1951 and died in early February of 1952, the king also designed the trailer next to the car to haul whatever one might need for a shooting party. 

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Here’s a look at a couple of other “hunting wagons” used for shooting parties. 

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After leaving museum you can stroll the grounds of Sandringham as you make your way to the gate to exit the estate. The grounds are covered in lush grass and this lake goes up to the edge of the house and is surrounded by gorgeous trees, bushes, and flowers. 

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Eventually,  you come around and can spy the house through the trees and across the lake. 

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The last place to visit on the estate is St. Mary Magdalene Church, this is where the Royal Family attends church while visiting Sandringham. The church is famous for it’s Christmas morning service when all the Royals walk down for services, pose for photos and greet any well wishers who have shown up. We went inside and the church is beautiful, most recently the church was where Princess Charlotte was christened as was her grandmother Lady Diana Spencer when she was a baby.

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The church has a lovely cemetery with several headstones dating from the 1700’s.

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Prince John is also buried beside the church, Prince John was the youngest child of King George V and Queen Mary, he suffered from epilepsy and perhaps autism and died at the age of 14. He spent all of his life out of the public eye living at Sandringham with his nurse and nanny due to his illness, King George, and Queen Mary were known to be very strict parents except when it came to Prince John. 

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St. Mary Magdalene is a beautiful country church with stunning architectural elements.

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If you get a chance to visit Sandringham House I would very much recommend it, it’s a beautiful house and grounds and a great way to spend a day in the country and is an easy trip to make by train from London. For more information, you can visit the Sandringham website here.

All words and images are
my own.

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