3 of the best reasons to visit Norfolk’s Holkham Hall

The glorious view of Holkham Hall

The glorious view of Holkham Hall - Credit: Ian Burt

A new farming exhibition is open at the Holkham Estate, the historic seat of agricultural innovation in Norfolk, as Mark Nicholls reports

Coke of Holkham helped to shape the way we have farmed for centuries as the new exhibition explains

Coke of Holkham helped to shape the way we have farmed for centuries as the new exhibition explains - Credit: Archant

1 From field to farm

The Holkham Estate has played a pivotal role in the evolution of farming in this country. It was the home of Thomas William Coke, the 1st Earl of Leicester, who was known as Coke of Norfolk and one of the great agricultural innovators.

Coke (1754-1842), who was also a long-standing politician, pioneered the principle of crop rotation and instigated the Holkham Sheep Shearings events, which created great interest. Many of the today’s modern agricultural and country shows can be traced back to this concept.

Holkham Hall's Field to Fork exhibition

Holkham Hall's Field to Fork exhibition - Credit: Archant

Now, that agricultural heritage is being celebrated in a new and interactive exhibition which will sit as the centrepiece of a £4.5 million investment in new visitor facilities at Holkham Hall.

Entitled Field to Fork, Food and Farming on the Holkham Estate, Past and Present, it will become the focal point of Holkham’s dedicated education programme.

Telling the story of Holkham’s contribution to farming history, the permanent exhibition will showcase the evolving relationship between the land and food production. With seven rooms to explore, visitors will see how modern day technology and farming techniques are embraced by a traditional estate.

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The Field to Fork exhibition will use audio visual, film, interactive displays and objects to help visitors understand the complex and interwoven stories of crop production, game-keeping and conservation and how this contributes to the food that ends up on our plates, following the journey “from field to fork”.

Holkham Enterprises general manager Celia Deeley explains: “The interactive farming exhibition is a first for Holkham and plays a key role in our commitment to educating visitors about the important role Holkham has played in agriculture regionally and nationally.”

The farming exhibition is one part of the new visitor experience at Holkham, which will also see the opening of the new Courtyard Café, with the Gift Shop nearby. The estate has also converted the former Holkham Pottery factory, creating an indoor events facility. The Lady Elizabeth Wing is named after the 5th Earl’s wife, Elizabeth Countess of Leicester, who started Holkham Pottery in the early 1950s. “This new events area will open in summer 2016 and will be capable of seating 250 dinner guests, 320 conference guests and 400 guests for a drinks party, enabling the estate to host weddings, conferences and events,” says Celia.

The Field to Fork exhibition is open from now until October 31, from 10am-5pm every day, and from November 1 to December 20, from 10am-4pm. Admission is £8 (adults), £4 (child 5-16).

2. Season of chamber music:

The Marble Hall at Holkham Hall will again provide the setting for a series of chamber music concerts this year. The inaugural concert, on May 21, sees pianist Angela Hewitt, return to Holkham to perform a programme which will include Bach’s Capriccio on the Departure of His Beloved Brother, a selection of sonatas by Scarlatti, Mozart’s Sonata in B flat major, and pieces by Beethoven and Ravel.

Pianist, Louis Schwizgebel, appears on June 10 to perform Schumann’s Kinderszenen, Brahms: Two Rhapsodies, and Schubert’s Sonata in C minor.

On September 23, soprano Sarah-Jane Lewis and baritone Gareth Brynmor John will give a recital of songs and duets by Mendelssohn, Brahms, Mahler and Britten, accompanied by pianist Simon Lepper. The final concerts will see Gothic Voices perform a programme of carols and songs for the season on December 3, and the Navarra String Quartet perform a programme of pieces by Haydn, Beethoven and Brahms on December 4.

For concert information and tickets, visit www.holkham.co.uk

3. Holkham on screen

Holkham Hall is to be featured on More 4’s new TV series, ‘Phil Spencer’s Stately Homes’, on 30th August 2016 at 9pm. The new series joins property guru, Phil Spencer, on a grand tour of Britain’s most extravagant country houses to find out how and why they were built.

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