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Holkham Lodges - From Royal Connections to the Silver Screen

Written by Leah Smith on

Resting within the UK’s largest national nature reserve (NNR), Holkham National Nature Reserve, encompassing the stunning coastline of the Holkham Gap, it should come as no surprise that Holkham Hall is regarded as one of East Anglia’s finest country homes and a truly special Norfolk Estate. However, despite its unique character you might be forgiven for feeling a certain sense of familiarity for the Holkham Estate and its surrounding countryside and shoreline. If this is the case, you might be interested to learn that Holkham has played host to several royal visitors during the years and even provided a setting for several Hollywood block busters – so you may have already experienced this stunning location without even knowing it!

Holkham Hall

Holkham Hall has represented the ancestral home of the Coke family for more than 400 years and has therefore amassed a fascinating history and a lasting reputation as an imposing Palladian country house. The house was envisioned by Thomas Coke, the 1st Earl of Leicester following a Grand Tour of Europe and embodies his love of classical artwork, which is something that becomes increasingly apparent during a visit to this remarkable country estate.

Generations of the Coke family have remained true to their commitment to evolve and ensure that the Estate remains at the heart of the local community. At the same time, great care has been taken to ensure that the house retains the character and features of Earl Thomas Coke’s original vision. Indeed, over the years Holkham Hall has undergone several changes at the behest of subsequent Earls. During the 1850s Thomas William Coke the 2nd Earl of Leicester implemented several changes to the house including the installation of central heating and the addition of a vestibule on the northern side of the house, while to the south he also developed stables, offices, an orangery and impressive terraced gardens. The 3rd Earl of Leicester continued in this spirit of modernisation and development with the addition of electricity via private generator to the house and further upgrades to Holkham’s bathrooms, WCs and heating.

Not all of the additions to the house were later considered to be in keeping with the 1st Earl of Leicester’s original vision and Edward Douglas Coke, the 7th Earl of Leicester subsequently began a process of spirited investment to reverse some of these changes, including the reinstatement of authentic 18th century glazing to the windows and restoring the home’s state rooms to a more accurate representation of their original ideal.

Holkham Hall commands far-reaching views over an expertly maintained 25,000-acre estate, with stunning walks for visitors to enjoy. The estate is also comprised of 22 tenanted farms encompassing some 6,100 hectares, while a further 1850 hectares is fully managed and farmed by the Holkham Farming Company directly. The house and its estate are today overseen by Thomas Coke, 8th Earl of Leicester and continues to represent a thriving centre of the local community. Visitors may take advantage of a sweeping park famed of its wild Fallow Deer, the fascinating Ice House and fabulous Courtyard Café.

Famous Visitors and the Silver Screen

Given the Holkham Hall’s rich history and impressive standing, it’s hardly surprising that the Coke family and the Holkham estate has enjoyed strong ties to the Royal Family over the years. In 1835 a then 16-year old Princess Victoria paid a visit to the house, while the 2nd Earl of Leicester was known to be a close friend of King Edward VII. More recently the Coke family have played host to The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh on several occasions. 

The classical design of the house has also made Holkham and the surrounding estate a popular choice for film producers and agencies looking for regal locations to film in. Indeed, several highly successful Hollywood productions have made use of the Estate, including 2008’s The Duchess, starring Keira Knightly and Ralph Fiennes, All The King’s Men with David Jason in 1999 and Dean Spanley (2008), which featured notable performances from both Peter O’ Toole and Sam Neill. 

Holkham Beach is within just short distance of the Estate and has also provided a set for the filming of several feature films. 1976’s acclaimed The Eagle Has Landed starring Michael Caine was filmed in part on Holkham beach, while Shakespeare in Love (1999) also made use of this stunning stretch of coastline. Most recently, the 2018 Sci-Fi thriller Annihilation with Natalie Portman made extensive use of Holkham Beach to impressive effect. 

Holkham Beach in Norfolk
Holkham Beach

Living the Dream

Whether you would like to follow in the footsteps of royal visitors or imagine what it would be like to star in your very own Hollywood blockbuster, Original Cottages is proud to offer an exclusive collection on properties within the Holkham Estate that will allow you to enjoy luxury accommodation that oozes star quality. 

Each of the special Holkham Lodges within our portfolio offers a unique experience combined with irresistible individual charm. These enchanting holiday homes each sleep two and are comprised of the woodland hideaway Palmers Folly, the Grade II listed and romantic gatehouse Palmers Lodge, S. S. Teulon-designed South Lodge, and the exemplary Grade I listed Triumphal Arch, designed by the renowned architect, William Kent – a truly exception structure quite unlike any other holiday cottage.

Palmers Lodge Holkham Lodges
Sitting Room in Palmers Lodge
Triumphal Arch Holkham Lodges
The bedroom suite at the Triumphal Arch

If you feel inspired by the regal charm of Holkham Hall and its surrounding estate, why not speak to our local experts about how you can indulge in genuine royal treatment during your next Norfolk holiday or short break?

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