Sandringham: The Norfolk Home of The Queen


By Glynn Burrows, Norfolk Tours UK

Glynn Burrows, history expert and owner of Norfolk Tours in England, discusses historic Sandringham, Her Majesty’s private home that’s set in hundreds of acres of park and woodland, and features magnificent gardens, on Big Blend Radio.


We are so lucky, in Norfolk, England – not only are we able to enjoy the beautiful and varied coastline, with the striped cliffs at Hunstanton, pebbled beaches at Sheringham, fine sand at Holkham and open marshes at Brancaster, fantastic varied birding spots, ancient ruins and amazing countryside, we also have Her Majesty’s private home, set in the many hundreds of acres of park and woodland.

The house itself, is only open from April to October, with exceptions, as the family still live in the house when they are in Norfolk. It is always closed for the Sandringham Flower Show in August, but there is the compensation for visitors at that time, of being able to bump into members of the Royal Family while walking around the Flower Show itself. I was lucky enough to see Her Majesty the Queen Mother and the Duchess of Kent during the 1980 show and it was especially pleasing for me, when the Duchess stopped and smiled for me to take her photograph. Enough of my name-dropping!

This private home of Her Majesty the Queen, at Sandringham, has been one of the family’s favourite places for over 150 years and, when you have visited it, you can see why!

Now, let’s look at the house and estate which was purchased in 1862, for Prince Edward, later to become King Edward VII and his bride, Alexandra. The house, at that time, was a lot smaller than it is today and The Prince and his new wife moved in after considerable work had been carried out to improve it, in 1863. It soon became apparent that the house wasn’t big enough for the family and most of the old house was taken down and replaced with a much larger and grander building. This was completed by 1870 and, although there has been much work carried out on the house and grounds since then, most of what we see today is from that date.

The estate needed hundreds of workers and houses were built to accommodate them in the villages on the estate. Some new houses were also built closer to the main house, for the visitors as well as for the senior household, and one of those was Park House. This house was the home of the Althorps in the late fifties and early sixties and their family were all born there, including their youngest daughter, Lady Diana Spencer who later became the Princess of Wales.

Many other members of the Royal Family were born or died at Sandringham, including King George V and his mother, Queen Alexandra who both died there and King George VI, who was born and died there. There are very famous photographs of the coffin of King George V and King George VI, laying in the Chancel of Sandringham Church, guarded by estate workers, awaiting the journey back to London and two of my recent visitors, were actually the daughter and granddaughter of one of those gamekeepers, who had that honour in 1952.

  • One of the Queens cars - The Spirit of Ecstasy
    One of the Queens cars - The Spirit of Ecstasy

The gardens of Sandringham are magnificent and walking along the pathways and through the arches, it is a pleasure as well as an honour to be allowed to tread in the footsteps of the many hundreds of thousands of people who have visited Sandringham over the last 150 years. Those visitors have included people from every corner of the globe, members of the Royal Families of Europe, the Kings and Queens of the United Kingdom since 1862 and, of course millions of people like you and I. One of my favourite parts of the walk is the little dog’s cemetery, with memorials to some of the family’s favourite companions. The dogs are laid to rest in a part of the grounds, with beautiful views of the house.

Just across the road from the main house, is a walled garden which is not generally open to the public and there is a little gate in the wall of the main grounds, which gives direct access, so the family can just pop over the road and not have to drive around. Just up the road, are the Stables, definitely fit for all the Queens Horses and a few miles up that road, is the private home of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

On leaving the main grounds, across the park, there is a little Church, which, before 1862, was a simple Norfolk Parish Church but when it became the place of worship for the Royal Family of this country, things changed. The building has undergone a lot of renovation and improvement since then, but it is still a Parish Church and is attended by the inhabitants of the area. There are several furnishings that are not commonly seen in Churches of this size, the solid silver altar and pulpit along with the memorials to members of the Royal Family tend to give the game away, that this isn’t just another little Norfolk Church! It was here that Lady Diana Spencer was Christened and, just a short time ago, her Granddaughter, Princess Charlotte was Christened here too.

The woodland, around the house is open to visitors all year and there are many walks throughout this very well-managed park for all to enjoy freely, with planned routes for the able as well as the less agile of us.

If you would like more information about vacations in England, or even staying on the Sandringham Estate itself, please feel free to contact me!

Glynn Burrows is the owner of Norfolk Tours in England where he provides customized, private tours and also helps his clients trace their English family history. If you are thinking about taking a vacation to England, visit

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Glynn Burrows is the owner of Norfolk Tours in England where he provides customized, private tours and also helps his clients trace their English family history.

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