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A small village on the north Norfolk Coast, with a fabulous bay and one of the finest Palladian houses in England

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Holkham Bay
Holkham Hall
Holkham village itself contains just a few houses, and not too much more. But this place isn't famous for the village, it's famous for what the village is next door to. Less than a kilometre to the north, you'll find one of two star attractions: the beach.

The beach at Holkham Bay
The expanse of sand at Holkham Bay is sometimes referred to as the best beach in England. It's absolutely huge, and the feeling of space is overwhelming. The horizon seems to go on forever. The sand is backed by a long strip of pine trees, which help protect the coast from erosion. There's a path here, just on the border between the woods and the beach, which is Holkham's most popular walking route. It goes on for the entire length of the beach, all the way to Wells-next-the-Sea in the east. The scenery here is so striking that it was used in the film Shakespeare in Love, during the very final scenes.

The view over Holkham Bay
Much of Holkham is within a coastal nature reserve, which is one of the biggest in England. As well as the sand and pines, the area also contains marshes, salt flats, and narrow creeks. These places are home to plenty of birds, and other wildlife.

Birdwatching at Holkham Bay

Holkham Woodland Walk

Take the Coast Path through the pinewoods and around Holkham Bay to Wells next the Sea beach (around 1 ½ miles each way)

The Victoria

If you fancy a refreshment, try the Victoria on the main A149 between Holkham Hall and Holkham Bay
Holkham's other star attraction is in the other direction, south of the village. This is Holkham Hall, arguably the finest Palladian house in the country. It looks like a Roman palace, or perhaps an exotic villa, which has somehow gotten lost in the middle of Norfolk. The design has been praised for its exceptional simplicity. The exterior has barely any decoration at all, instead featuring stark, simple brickwork that makes for a very striking appearance. The concept was dreamt up in the 18th century by Thomas Coke, the 1st Earl of Leicester. Today, the hall is still home to Coke's descendent, the current Earl of Leicester, and his family.

Holkham Hall
Even though it's still in use, Holkham Hall is open to the public. The interior is grand and elegant, without ever being too extravagant. Visitors are encouraged not to be shy; they can walk on the carpets, and get close to the artefacts on display.
And of course, there's plenty to look at. Upon entering, the first sight is the Marble Hall, with its huge set of stairs. This first room is 15 metres high, and is decorated with plaster statues of classic deities. Elsewhere in the house, you can find patterned ceilings, classic art, and ornate fireplaces. Particularly notable rooms include the Saloon, which has walls lined in red velvet, and the Old Kitchen, which used to prepare around 1700 meals a month. As you explore, you may notice that each of the formal state rooms is designed to be symmetrical. In some cases, this means that the builders had to include false doors!
Nearby, within the house's former stables, you can find the Bygones Museum, the place that just won't let bygones be bygones. This is home to a vast collection of agricultural memorabilia, as well as many domestic items. Exhibits include old mechanical toys, a range of classic cars, and various strange-looking tools and implements.
Surrounding Holkham Hall is a huge area of parkland. This 3000-acre is full of grass, trees, and a lake. It's also home to around 800 deer, who roam freely around the estate. There are plenty of marked walks and nature trails, which are the best ways to see the place.

Wild deer roam the parkland
One of the most eye-catching sights in the entire park can be found directly south from the house. This is the 24-metre-high obelisk, which actually pre-dates the building of the hall. It stands on a perfectly straight road, on an avenue lined with trees.

The Obelisk in the Holkham Estate
Visitor Information
Car-parking can be found at both Holkham Bay (paid) and Holkham Hall (free).

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