Sandringham House

Sandringham House has served the British royal family as a private residence for many years. Today, the house and its surrounding 20,000 acres is open to the public, offering a public park, formal gardens, a museum, and tractor tours. Sandringham is conveniently located approximately three hours from both London and Birmingham’s major metropolitan areas, making it an excellent day trip for travelers.

History

History
History

The site of Sandringham House was originally Sandringham Hall, built in 1771. In 1862, Queen Victoria purchased the hall for her son, the future Edward VII, and his bride. Within a decade, Edward VII had the hall torn down and a new house rebuilt. Sandringham House has served as a private residence for the royal family ever since. Queen Elizabeth II is known to frequent the house annually, including the anniversary of the death of her father, King George VI.

Sandringham House & Gardens

Sandringham House & Gardens
Sandringham House & Gardens

While the current house was originally finished in 1870, the royal family commissioned several additions over the years. In the late 19th century, a modern new wing was added onto the original red brick house, bringing with it gas lighting and modern plumbing features. After a fire in 1891 destroyed part of the house, the rebuilt structure utilized many bay windows to bring in more natural light. Now open to the public for viewing, Sandringham’s main rooms display many of the royal family’s artifacts, including a Dresden porcelain chandelier, oriental armor, and oversized family portraits.

The gardens at Sandringham House are a destination not to be missed. Situated on 60 acres of the estate, today’s Sandringham gardens are a collection of contributions from every royal generation that has lived there, significantly different than that of the original plan. From the relocation of the lake in the 19th century to the utilization of the grounds during World War II, the gardens have been heavily influenced throughout the years. Today, visitors to the gardens can stroll through the Woodland Walk, the Bog Garden, a walled garden, and a Stream Walk.

Since 1968, a portion of the estate has been designated a Country Park for public enjoyment. This 600-acre green space offers two nature trails, multiple woodland paths, and tractor tours throughout the park. It is part of a continuing conservation effort by the Duke of Edinburgh to preserve green spaces for many generations to come. For that reason, thousands and trees and several miles of hedges are planted annually at Sandringham.

Sandringham Estate – York Cottage & Appleton House

Sandringham Estate – York Cottage & Appleton House
Sandringham Estate – York Cottage & Appleton House

Nestled within the estate boundaries were two other houses, namely York Cottage and Appleton House. Built at the end of the 19th century, both houses served as homes to royal newlywed couples. George V and his new wife, Mary, lived in York Cottage after marrying in 1893, while Appleton House was a wedding gift to Prince Carl and Princess Maud in 1896. Appleton House eventually became unused and was torn down in 1984, after restoration costs became too high. York Cottage still stands, however, serving as the Estate Office for Sandringham House, including flats for employees and holiday accommodations.

Visiting Sandringham House

Visiting Sandringham House
Visiting Sandringham House

Sandringham House has been open to the public since 1977. Within the house, guides are positioned in each room to provide information to inquisitive visitors. The former coach houses have been converted into a museum offering an excellent display of royal life at Sandringham, from a fire engine to a clock used in racing pigeons. Sandringham also offers a restaurant, a tea room, a visitor’s center, and a shop, all of which is wheelchair friendly.

Top image: Karen Roe (flickr)

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