Nor­folk peo­ple: The Earl of Le­ices­ter

Country Life Every Week - - Visual Treasures -

THE Cokes have been at Holkham since the 17th cen­tury and the 1st Earl of Le­ices­ter built the mag­nif­i­cent Pal­la­dian ed­i­fice, with its awe-in­spir­ing mar­ble hall, in the mid 18th cen­tury. The present Earl’s ances­tor, Coke of Nor­folk, who in­her­ited Holkham in 1776, com­bined farm­ing in­no­va­tion with renowned hos­pi­tal­ity, his three-day ‘shear­ings’ the talk of the coun­try. The in­no­va­tive agri­cul­tur­al­ist would be pleased that the house is still at the cen­tre of a thriv­ing 25,000-acre es­tate. En­ter­prises in­clude a hol­i­day park, sev­eral shops and the in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed ho­tel, The Vic­to­ria Inn. The Count­ess of Le­ices­ter is ac­tive in bring­ing events to the house, such as the spe­cial Christ­mas can­dlelit tours and carols with opera singers.

I en­joyed a day’s shoot­ing there, the keep­ers in their bowler hats, and we rel­ished lunch in the fres­coed Temple. We parked by the newly re­stored foun­tain whose re­cently re­vived, joy­ous jets of wa­ter sym­bol­ise the es­tate’s re­nais­sance started un­der the present Earl’s fa­ther (01328 710227;

I asked the present Earl (be­low) for his rec­om­men­da­tions for en­joy­ing the county:

What do you long for when you’re away? A run along Holkham beach with the dogs into the sun­set What’s your favourite Nor­folk place? I cy­cle a lot. There are so many won­der­ful back roads with very few cars from where you can see our coastal views, our hills (yes, we have them in north Nor­folk) or the vast ex­panses of the Brecks

Where would you have a pic­nic and what would you eat?

I have an old crab boat at Burn­ham Overy Staithe, where you can chug or sail out to sea or beach your­self at Gunn Hill or Scolt Head is­land. We’d have crab sand­wiches with home-grown radishes and spring onions and a cold roast woodcock or wild English par­tridge

What piece of ad­vice would you like to give a vis­i­tor to the county?

Park your car, throw away the keys and get on your bike!

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