Burghley House – Stamford: Set in a 300 acre deer park, landscaped by Capability Brown
Lincoln Cathedral: One of the finest gothic buildings in Europe
King’s College – Cambridge: Marvel at the impressive architecture, set within the atmospheric cobbled courts, chapels and bridges of Cambridge
Ely Cathedral: one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe and a remarkable example of Norman and Romanesque architecture
Holkham Hall: One of Britain’s majestic stately homes set in a 3,000 acre deer park
Norwich Cathedral: One of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Europe
Norwich Castle: A Norman royal palace built 900 years ago, now a museum and art gallery
Sandringham House: The country retreat of Her Majesty The Queen, set in 60 acres of beautiful wooded gardens
Framlingham Castle: A magnificent 12th century fortress
Ickworth House – Bury St Edmunds: Explore acres of space, woodland, wildlife and a stunning architectural oddity
Orford Castle: One of England’s most complete and unusual keeps
Audley End House – Saffron Walden: One of England’s grandest stately homes with beautiful grounds to explore
Colchester Castle and Museums: Britain’s oldest recorded town. Discover the Roman and local history of Colchester
Layer Marney Tower – near Colchester: A Tudor palace with beautiful buildings, including England’s tallest Tudor gatehouse, gardens and parklands
Althorp House: Stately home and memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales
Rockingham Castle – Market Harborough: A former royal castle and hunting lodge in Rockingham Forest
Doddington Hall Gardens – near Lincoln: Five acres of romantic formal and wild gardens
Easton Walled Gardens – Grantham: 12 acres of gardens including Kitchen and Cottage gardens
Elton Hall Gardens – Peterborough: Flower garden, herbaceous borders, topiary and an arboretum, set in the grounds of a romantic Gothic house
Peckover House and Gardens – Wisbech: This National Trust´s best town garden is a hidden gem with over 60 species of rose
Bressingham Gardens – Diss: 17 acres of gardens with glorious views and vistas of year-round colour
Oxburgh Hall and Gardens – Swaffham: Attractive gardens and woodland surrounding a romantic 15th century moated manor house
Pensthorpe Hall and Gardens – Fakenham: Award winning beautiful gardens offering something to all lovers of nature and wildlife
Somerleyton Hall – Lowestoft: More than 12 acres of gardens and one of the finest yew hedge mazes in Britain
Helmingham Hall Gardens – Stowmarket: Magnificent gardens set in a beautiful park with red deer and a spectacular moated hall
Beth Chatto Gardens – Colchester: Five acres of gardens started in 1960 from gravel soil and boggy hollows. Transformed into a variety of informal gardens
The Place For Plants – East Bergholt: Covers 20 acres of garden and arboretum. Known as the ‘Cornish Garden in Suffolk’ it was originally laid out by present owners grandfather.
Hyde Hall Gardens – Chelmsford: This 360 acre estate is unforgettable in any season and allows visitors to immerse themselves in nature
Wicksteed Park – Kettering: Combines the excitement of rollercoasters, rides and attractions with a country park
Silverstone Racing Track: Site for the British Grand Prix, this leading motorsport venue is also famed for its exhilarating driving experience
Natureland Seal Sanctuary – Skegness: Not just seals – there are lots more amazing animals: penguins, butterflies, reptiles and goats!
Cambridge Punt Company – This is the best way to see the Backs and River Cam in Cambridge. Secure your departure time so there is no waiting around. Have the personal touch of your guide.
‘Let’s Go Punting’ in Cambridge – specialising in private and shared Chauffeured River Tours of Cambridge
Imperial War Museum – Duxford: Europe’s premier aviation museum with 200 aircraft on display as well as collections of tanks, military vehicles and artillery
Nene Valley Railway – nr Peterborough: For lovers of steam both young and old, visit Britain´s International Steam Railway for a great day out
Linton Zoo: the emphasis is on conservation and education, whilst providing an enjoyable family day out.
The Raptor Foundation – near Huntingdon: A bird of prey sanctuary and hospital. A 30 acre site offering children and adults to meet and learn about owls, hawks, falcons and buzzards
Scudamores Punting – Cambridge: A chauffered tour or self hire a punt – a great way to see Cambridge and experience the history.
Sea Life – Great Yarmouth: Magical marine world
Pensthorpe Waterfowl Park – Fakenham: Set in 500 acres of countryside with lakes and nature trails through ancient fen meadows and woodland
Banham Zoo – nr Attleborough: A wild day out for all the family with 35 acres of beautiful parkland and gardens with exciting activities
Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach: Occupying a nine-acre seafront location with rides and attractions
Bewilderwood – nr Hoveton: An award winning forest full of wild family fun and adventure
Pettitts Animal Adventure Park – Reedham: Family theme park with entertainment and rides for everyone
Bishops Boats Seal Trips – Blakeney: Running daily seal-watching trips from February to November. Departing from the picturesque Blakeney harbour and Morston quay
Go Ape – Thetford: High wire forest adventure amongst tree tops
Baylham House Rare Breeds Farm – Ipswich: 50 acre working livestock farm, breeding endangered farm animals
Sutton Hoo – Woodbridge: The ancient burial mounds of an Anglo-Saxon king
Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park – Lowestoft: A theme park with many exciting attractions for all
Southwold Pier: One of the finest examples of a pier to be found in the British isles
Easton Farm Park – Woodbridge: Lots of animals and activities to keep everyone occupied
Africa Alive – Lowestoft: A walking safari at one of the UK’s largest and most exciting wildlife attractions
Barleylands – Billericay: Farm park and craft village for all ages with indoor and outdoor play areas
Bure Valley Railway – Aylesham: 18 miles of steam train rides through the picturesque Bure Valley with themed trips
Colchester Zoo: One of the finest Zoos in Europe with a constant programme of development
Dedham Boathouse – nr Manningtree: Hire a rowing boat and see beautiful Constable country from the river
Old Macdonald’s Farm – South Weald: Animal petting farm with indoor soft play areas and fun outdoor activities
INFORMATION ABOUT THIS AREA
A land of big skies, wide horizons, forest and marsh, wild beaches and fen and river. A land of character and tradition and a spirit that has taken its time over embracing the modern world.
The soft coastline of sand cliffs, saltings and strand is constantly under siege by the North Sea. Among its victims is the ‘lost city’ of Dunwich. Nowadays, a tiny hamlet is all that remains of the former seat of the kings of East Anglia. Legend has it that, on a still night, the city’s church bells can be heard tolling from beneath the waves. Not far down the coast, at Aldeburgh, erosion has resulted in the town’s Tudor Moot Hall, once well inland, now sitting just off the promenade. The nearby Snape Maltings is home to the world renowned Aldeburgh Music Festival.
The wool trade brought incredible wealth to this part of the world with Lavenham at its centre. This gem of timber-framed houses – 300 of them are listed – has been described as the most perfect of all English small towns. Bury St Edmunds and Bildeston, the Guildhall, at Hadleigh, and the Old Moot Hall, at Sudbury are also a legacy of those days.
Let’s go up the River Stour into the Dedham Vale…Constable Country. The stunning countryside and skies inspired John Constable to paint masterpieces such as Willy Lott’s Cottage, Flatford Mill and The Haywain.
((In 1696, a young minister arrived in Maldon and soon attracted huge congreations with his energy and passion. He was Joseph Billio and his name passed into the language…to do something ‘like billio’.))
In Epping Forest you can join the ghosts of the kings and queens of England in one of their favourite hunting grounds. Now tiny compared with centuries past, there are 6,000 acres of woodland and lakes and Henry VIII’s hunting lodge still stands.
While we are in Essex we must visit Colchester – the oldest recorded town in Britain. It became the Romans’ first permanent colony and its fascinating history includes being sacked by Queen Boadicea and being besieged by Cromwell’s troops during the Civil War. The stories are told in the town’s award-winning Castle Museum housed in a Norman keep.
One of the county’s stately homes was the largest house in England when it was built, in 1614. Audley End has since been halved in size but is still a magnificent Jacobean mansion with its parkland crafted by Capability Brown.
All aboard a punt and absorb the architectural gems that are the colleges of the University of Cambridge. The Bridge of Sighs and the Mathematical Bridge span the Cam. Henry VI founded King’s College in 1441. He wanted the chapel, with its inspirational fan-vaulted ceiling and Rubens altarpiece, to dominate the city. Explore the university and visit the Fitzwilliam Museum, one of Britain’s oldest public museums.
Ely Cathedral stands huge and proud over the flat Fens. It was the hiding place of Hereward the Wake as the Normans swept across East Anglia.
Northeast to Norwich and its perfectly preserved medieval streets dominated by the cathedral, founded in 1086. Its thin spire was added to the tower in the 15th century, making it the second tallest in England after Salisbury.
To a wonderland of reed fringed waterways and lakes, woodland and fen – The Broads. It is still a place of mystery and enchantment. Joined by six rivers, the broads are medieval peat diggings which flooded when the water level rose in the 13th century.
The wilder stretches of the region’s country and coast are dotted with nature reserves and bird sanctuaries. Every habitat is available to the wildlife enthusiast from windswept shingle banks and salt marsh to woods and meadows.
The villages and small towns of the north Norfolk coast sit back from the worst of the North Sea winter behind sand dunes and mud flats. Their flint-built homes are a stark contrast to the pink-washed cottages of Suffolk and reflect the character of the rugged, hardy folk who fish and farm here. Don’t forget that Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson was born and brought up in Burnham Thorpe…if you call being packed off to sea at 12 years old being brought up! Visit his father’s parsonage and church.
((The Rowley Mile, at Newmarket, the headquarters of English horseracing, is 2½ miles long and is the longest and widest horseracing straight in the world.))
After admiring the house and gardens at Sandringham House – the Queen’s Christmas residence – we are off to King’s Lynn. Its name was changed from Bishop’s Lynn in the Reformation and in the Middle Ages was one of England’s most prosperous ports.
Across the flat, fertile peat of The Fens to the rolling chalk uplands of the Lincolnshire Wolds, which hide quiet wooded valleys and dreaming villages. Somersby, at the southern end of the wolds, is the birthplace of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who wrote lovingly of this part of the world.
The triple towers of Lincoln Cathedral are visible for miles. It is a fascinating mix of Norman and Gothic styles. Look for the gargoyle of an imp sent by Satan to disrupt the cathedral, who was turned to stone by an angel. Then explore Lincoln’s castle, built just two years after the Norman conquest of 1066.
Enjoy an Elizabethan extravaganza at Burghley House, home to the world famous horse trials. Climb Hell Staircase into Heaven Room and marvel at the beautiful and the bizarre in this magnificent building.
All in all a fascinating part of the world. One that has matured from a violent past into one of dramatic contrasts and subtle sophistication. Be prepared to stay here longer than you planned.