Oxburgh Hall ticks all the boxes

Oxburgh Hall
Oxburgh Hall
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TRISH TAKES FIVE: By Trish Burgess

After the great success of our day at Burghley House over Easter, Dougie and I have been inspired to continue with our new game of ‘where to go within an hour of Holbeach.’

Sitting with a road map, I came across Oxburgh Hall, a National Trust property south of King’s Lynn. A sunny Saturday beckoned so we headed East to check it out.

What a beauty! Built in 1482 by the Bedingfeld family, this splendid manor house is still home to the family (not Natasha and Daniel, in case you were wondering. Remember to drop the ‘i’.)

The house is a mix of medieval through to Victorian architecture, as parts of the building have been altered over the centuries, but it is an imposing structure, surrounded by a moat and 28 hectares of gardens and woodlands.

The highlights of the house include hidden doors in the library, embroideries worked on by Mary, Queen of Scots while she was imprisoned in England and a very small priest’s hole used by the Catholic family in Elizabethan times to conceal persecuted priests.

We peered into the hole but Dougie, initially gung ho about manoeuvring his way in, changed his mind as he thought, with his back, he might never get out again. “Hmm, they were a lot smaller in those days,” he mused and we decided a climb up to the roof was more manageable.

In the grounds, there is a formal parterre garden, a kitchen garden and a delightful woodland walk which was particularly pretty as the paths were lined with daffodils. We came across a den-building area where previous visitors had tried their hand at the craft. My own Bear Grylls fashioned a rudimentary wigwam out of fallen branches but it soon collapsed. We walked on.

There were a number of families enjoying the day; little ones were searching for tiny bunny rabbits inside the house and in the grounds. It took me back to the days when Rory would become so obsessed with children’s trails we would hardly have time to look around before he was urging us to move on to the next location to find a hidden clue. I smiled as I watched other parents having the same frantic experience.

I came home and dutifully updated my Facebook status with a photo of the hall, saying what a fantastic place it was. Turns out many people were well aware of it. One friend had purchased his trusty walking staff from ‘a master stick maker in a marquee’ 15 years ago and a cousin in Ireland squealed that she had just finished a jigsaw puzzle of Oxburgh Hall after two years. She doesn’t get out much...

You can follow Trish on Twitter @mumsgoneto and read her blog at www.mumsgoneto.blogspot.com