Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Felbrigg, chickens and reminders of home

The second full day of our holiday started much like the first, dry but overcast. We were heading to Felbrigg Hall, and stopped off at the seaside on our way.

Cromer is a typical English seaside resort, with roots in Victorian England's love of promenading in the bracing sea air, hence there is a lovely late Victorian pier.

We noted, jealously, the sandy beach! 

As you can see, by the time we got to Cromer the skies were blue, OH kept telling me it was going to be a sunny day but I didn't believe him, think I need to get him a job with the BBC!

Innovative use of an old fishing boat and pebbles, maybe that's why there aren't many on the beach.

After a quick walk along the pier, we set off for Felbrigg Hall, a National Trust managed property a few miles inland.

As tempted as I was by these hobby-horses, I left them

Felbrigg is a 17th century property built on an estate owned by the Wyndham family since the 1400's.

Felbrigg has had it's fair share of characters, one of them being the Victorian William Frederick Windham, or Mad Windham as he became known (yes, the y in the name changes to an i back and forth through history). Mad Windham was the only child of William Windham and his wife Sophie, born in 1840 and said to be a strange child.  He declared a love of uniforms early on in life, particularly train guard uniforms. He allegedly caused chaos at local stations with unauthorised whistle blasts.

Mad Windham took a fancy to the kept woman of a local timber merchant known as Mahogany Roberts, who in turn took an unhealthy interest in the woods surrounding the hall. Mad Windham wanted to marry the woman, Agnes Willoughby, so agreed to a marriage settlement to guarantee her an income. 

His uncle, General Charles Windham, feared for the estate and what was left of the family fortune by this time, so petitioned to have his nephew declared De Lunatico Inquirendo.

The inquiry lasted 34 days and 140 witnesses gave evidence. But, the hearing collapsed and Mad Windham was declared sane.  

Not unexpectedly, Mad Windham's marriage didn't last. His spiralling debts meant the house was soon in the hands of the bankers, and mad Windham spent his final few years driving a coach from Cromer to Norwich, before dying at the age of just 26. 

We followed in Mad Windham's footsteps around the house, and upstairs entered the Chinese bedroom, where we were puzzled by these interesting wobbly headed figures placed high upon the walls. 

Interestingly, they are earthquake early warning systems, any slight tremor sets the heads wobbling, and at that point you know to get out of the building! So clever.

The beautiful wallpaper is presently undergoing restoration from damp, and unbelievably was hung in 1752 

Back downstairs and I was drawn to all the pots and pans so beautifully polished in the kitchen

A tour of the below stairs area and estate office proved interesting, with 18th century leather fire buckets and furniture made to fit in to the house in the 1700's

Some interesting old packaging in the service wing, particularly the Mander tin from nearby Wolverhampton.  I'm pretty sure Harrods no longer sell the other item though! 

Wandering through the walled gardens and I spotted this lady, minding her own business and looking for bugs, there were quite a few chickens around, but I only saw a handful of banties, allowed to roam wherever they wanted.

 We quickly negotiated the doorway into the dovecote, but didn't get 'bombed'.

 Halfway round the walled gardens we were caught in a sudden storm, and had to shelter under a brick archway, with another chicken!

 Back out into the sunshine again and through the meadow with a neatly mown path

 We left Felbrigg and headed to the coast once more, OH eager to get his feet wet.  We discovered Overstrand, a delightful village on top of the cliffs, with a sandy beach, and a great cafe.

 Finally, OH was able to walk on sand and have a paddle. 

More tales from Norfolk soon!


  1. Love your posts, they always make me want to visit the places you've written about.

  2. Lovely shots from Norfolk and what a rich history Felbrigg has.

  3. Lovely shots from Norfolk and what a rich history Felbrigg has.

  4. Hee! Sperm, . Love the early warning system for earthquakes. Thank you for posting those pics.

    Happy thrifting ;)

  5. Yay, I thought, when I saw your post pop up. All day long I was looking forward to properly reading your travelogue! I love Victorian piers, so Cromer's certainly doesn't disappoint. And what an interesting property Felbrigg Hall is! I love the earthquake warning system, the beautiful wallpaper and the row of gleaming copper pots and pans in the kitchen. Oh, and the ceiling in that first room is magnificent. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to resist one of the hobby horses, though ;-) xxx

  6. OOOh, I love the look of Cromer!! The house is beautiful too! I'm like your husband- I'm always on about paddling!!! The earthquake warning system is so clever!

  7. Mad Windham sounds my kind of bloke! That wallpaper is absolutely stunning, I'd love that in our house. The garden is truly gorgeous and I love the innovative use of the old boat in Cromer, too. xxx

  8. Felbrigg certainly is most impressive and the bedroom with its glorious wall paper is wonderful. Love the earthquake warning system too.The gardens are simply gorgeous.Sounds like you both had a grand time finishing with tea,cake and a paddle.


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