The History Of Blickling Hall
Dating back to the 11th century, Blickling Hall was once home to Harold Godwinson, who later became King Harold II of England. However, the King’s reign was short; his life ended in the Battle of Hastings in 1066. And William I (better known as William the Conqueror) succeeded him.
The hall’s history was relatively quiet after the death of King Harold II. But it would soon become one of the most famous buildings in the UK.
Blickling Hall tells tales of heartbreak and sorrow. Most commonly associated with the unfortunate execution of its most famous spectre. But before this gruesome tale unfolded, this gorgeous estate was owned by the renowned Boleyn family; it was in the care of Sir John Fastolf.
Sir John was said to be a wealthy man who made his fortune (with which he acquired Blickling Hall) during the Hundred Years’ War. He owned the estate for almost 80 years, from 1380 to 1459, before the estate passed to the last private owner, Sir Thomas Boleyn.
The Boleyn family
Sir Thomas Boleyn and his wife Elizabeth made Blickling Hall their home from 1499 to 1505. Their children, George and Mary, were believed to be born within the great halls. Their most famous daughter, Anne, was also likely born in the hall. Of course, Anne would become the Queen of England before her untimely demise in 1536.
The current structure of Blickling Hall, as it’s known today, was built in 1616. It lay on the ruins of the Boleyn’s property, designed by the architect of Hatfield House, Robert Lyminge.
Over the years, the house underwent several renovations and transformations. But it continues to retain its historic beauty. It passed from one owner to the next, including Philip Kerr, the 11th Marquis of Lothian.
World War II and beyond
During the Second World War, Blickling Hall was requisitioned and used as the Officers’ Mess for RAF Oulton. And with so many soldiers having passed through the doors of the grand home, it’s no wonder that their spirits are said to linger here. After the war, the National Trust received the property and the entire estate.
Since then, the Jacobean house has retained its charm and has offered visitors a chance to glance into its historic past. Blickling Hall still features notable highlights like the grand entrance hall. And the original-style staircase, the 1930s-style Brown Drawing Room, and the iconic Chinese Bedroom. This room has some of the most well-preserved examples of original Chinese wallpaper in the UK.
The Ghosts Of Blickling Estate
Blickling Hall, known as Blickling Estate, has earned itself a reputation as one of the most haunted houses in England. Of course, the most active ghost that haunts the estate is that of Anne Boleyn. But other apparitions and supernatural activities have excited (and frightened) guests for years.
Although you can’t take all your ghost-hunting equipment with you, a tour of the estate’s grounds is worth your while! You’re sure to feel the unsettling atmosphere around the home. And, if you’re lucky, you can snap a picture or two of the estate’s more active ghosts.
Anne Boleyn is one of England’s most famous queens and is an essential figure in the history of the Blickling Estate. She’s significant in the lore and the legends surrounding the old hall. Maybe because of her ties to the home, the rumours are that she was born there.
Anne’s tragic fate is well-known and has been told and retold for generations. She caught the eye of King Henry VIII while serving in the court of his first wife, Queen Catherine. For Henry, it was love at first sight. His infatuation with Anne led to him establishing the Church of England and getting an annulment of his marriage to Catherine. Henry and Anne were married shortly after, in 1533.
The marriage was fated to be short-lived, though. Despite giving birth to Queen Elizabeth I, their daughter, Anne failed to produce an heir for her husband. Resulting in accusations of infidelity and treason brought against her by the King. The King had her arrested and kept prisoner in the Tower of London until she was beheaded on the 19th of May in 1536.
It’s believed that Anne’s ghost returns to the Blickling Estate on the anniversary of her execution. She’s said to appear in random locations around the estate.
Several visitors have claimed to see her ghostly apparition dressed in white and carrying her severed head in her arms. Some stories even describe her arriving in a phantom carriage, driven by a headless horseman and pulled by headless horses – talk about horrifying!
Another ghostly resident of the estate is Anne’s father, Thomas Boleyn. Over the years, there have been whispers that his spirit haunts the grounds. Maybe it’s a curse for his role in his son and daughter’s executions.
According to legends, Thomas suffers from a curse. He must cross twelve bridges before daybreak for a thousand years. His restless spirit can be spotted as he travels through Blickling Hall. Like his daughter, his anguished ghost carries his head under his arm, with flames flowing from his open mouth.
In addition to the Boleyn family ghosts, the apparition of Sir John Fastolf haunts the hall. His spirit and the figure of a mysterious ‘grey lady’ roam the grounds and can even be seen as far from the home as the formal gardens.
Can I go ghost-hunting at Blickling Estate?
Unfortunately, Blickling Estate doesn’t allow for paranormal investigations or overnight ghost hunts. But that shouldn’t stop you from exploring the estate! Guests have spotted the spirits of the hall as they tour the home and walk around the magnificent garden just outside the front of it.
The good news is that you can take your camera with you. So there’s a chance to snap a picture of one of the spectres who roam the grounds.
What is there to do at the Blickling Estate?
During your visit to Blickling Estate, you can explore the hall or the gently undulating historic parkland. Most hall visitors enjoy wandering through the enclosed garden (the Secret Garden), the formal garden, or any beautiful surroundings and inspired planting that makes up 55 acres of land.
Remember to visit the RAF Oulton Museum, too. People say that the spirits of the officers of old make their appearances around the museum, giving quite the scare to unsuspecting visitors. There is also free entry for National Trust members!