There are rather a lot of halls in England and they aren’t all ancient seats – rather some of them seem to have been given the name hall to hint at an antiquity that didn’t exist. The Telegraph’s list of best stately homes has houses and palaces – the first hall is number ten on the list. So that is my post for today. Blickling Hall in Norfolk which definitely has a pedigree.
Blickling was originally a medieval moated hall of the end described in earlier posts this month. It changed hands several times but this post is particularly interested in its purchase by Sir Geoffrey Bullen. He was a successful merchant who would become Lord Mayor of London. Not only did he do well financially but he married up when he took the hand of Ann Hoo the daughter of the first Lord Hoo – not bad for the son of a yeoman farmer from Salle. Geoffrey was knighted by Henry VI and was a friend of Sir John Falstaff of Caistor who was the inspiration for Shakespeare and who left his home to the Pistons causing a feud between the family and the duke of Norfolk.
Geoffrey’s son William did even better in the matrimonial stakes than his father. He married Lady Margaret Butler, the daughter of the earl of Ormonde and one of his co-heirs. It was form here that the Boleyn claim to the earldom of Ormonde stemmed – and which could have changed Anne Boleyn’s fate had she been married off to James Butler in order to resolve an inheritance dispute over the title and lands. William was created a knight of the Bath by Richard III. He died in 1505.
Blickling was Thomas Boleyn’s residence from 1499 until 1505 when he inherited Hever from his father. Thomas did even better in matrimonial terms than his father or grandfather in that he married the daughter of a duke – Lady Elizabeth Howard. It’s thought that both Anne, Mary and their brother George were born there. If Anne was born after 1505 rather than in about 1501 then its more likely that she was born at Hever in Kent.
As with the medieval site there’s not a great deal of Tudor Blickling left as it was rebuilt during the Jacobean period by Sir Henry Hobart in about 1616. The house is worth visiting as one of the most beautiful Jacobean houses in the country but sadly I have no photographs of it as the last time I visited digital cameras were unheard of.
Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a good ghost story – so here it is. Anne Boleyn is said to return to her place of birth on the anniversary of her execution (19th May 1536). The former queen arrives in a coach, driven by a headless horseman and pulled by four headless horses, at midnight. Dressed in white, carrying her own head she descends from the coach to walk the corridors of her childhood home, undeterred by Sir Henry Hobart’s rebuilding of the hall, until the sun rises.
If that’s not your cup of tea, Blicking Hall is home to a portrait supposed to be a young Ann Boleyn. There’s also a portrait of her daughter Elizabeth I.