Official Visitor Website

Royal Norfolk – 1000 years of Royal History in Norfolk UK

Norfolk has a long association with the Kings and Queens of England and Great Britain, from William I, who established Norwich Castle as a royal palace soon after The Norman Conquest, to the late Elizabeth II whose private home, Sandringham is in the west of the county. We’re proud to be a Royal County.

Castle Norwich projection, Norfolk

In 575AD Anglo Saxon King Uffa made Northwic a Royal city and capital of East Anglia.

Norwich Castle was founded as a Royal Palace by William the Conqueror. William II began the stone keep in 1094, which was completed in 1121. Henry I stayed at the castle in 1103 and 1108 and visited in 1121 for Christmas.

Norwich had royal charters granted in 1158 by Henry II and in 1404, when it was one of the first towns in England to earn the rights granted by Henry IV’s Charter of Incorporation. The growth in the city’s powers led to the building of The Guildhall, one of the largest and most elaborate medieval city halls outside London.

Guildhall and Market Norwich

The Guildhall and market place at Norwich.

Elizabeth I visited the city in 1578 when she may have stayed at The Maid’s Head Hotel. The hotel, which dates from at least the 1280s also played hosted to Edward the Black Prince (son of Edward III) and Catherine of Aragon (first wife of Henry VIII).

Maid's Head Hotel Norwich

The Maid’s Head Hotel, Norwich.

Queen Elizabeth I invited Dutch and French-speaking Huguenots and Walloons refugees fleeing religious persecution to the city in 1565. Their weaving expertise helped make Norwich one of the wealthiest cities in England.

Norwich: A brief history of time in the City of Stories

King John statue, King’s Lynn.

King’s Lynn’s charter was granted by King John in 1204, who famously lost the Crown Jewels in The Wash in 1216. Great Yarmouth also had its charter granted by King John in 1207. The renaming of the town of Lynn in 1537 from Bishop’s Lynn to King’s Lynn was by order of a charter from Henry VIII.

Little Walsingham. North Norfolk.

Little Walsingham.

The Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham, one of Europe’s great pilgrimage destinations was visited by most English monarchs from Henry III who made 12 visits from around 1226 to Henry VIII (1511). Walsingham is an important modern pilgrimage destination, home to both the national Anglican and Roman Catholic Shrines.

Castle Rising aerial Mike Page

Castle Rising Castle.

Castle Rising Castle dates from  around 1140. The most famous period in its history was when Queen Isabella mother of Edward III, took over ownership following her part in the murder of her husband Edward II. She spent a lot of time at the castle and was visited by Edward III in 1342, 1343, 1344 and 1349. After her death in 1358, the castle passed to Edward The Black Prince and remained in royal hands until 1544.

Edward IV fled from King’s Lynn by ship in 1470 at the height of the Wars of the Roses. He stayed the night in the house belonging to a Walter Coney at the south end of the High Street. He returned to England a year later with an invasion army travelling in Hanseatic ships.

Oxburgh Hall

Oxburgh Hall.

Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth stayed at Oxburgh Hall in 1487. Oxburgh is also home to an intriguing royal heirloom, needlework created by Mary Queen of Scots during her captivity at Tutbury Castle when she worked with ‘Bess’ of Hardwick, who sewed with her. Check out the Priest Hole.

Blickling Hall & Estate

Blickling Hall.

Blickling Hall is said to be visited by the ghost of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII, on the anniversary of her death, 19 May. Blickling was owned by the Boleyn family from1499-1505. Charles II visited Blickling in 1671.

Charles I stayed at the Swan Inn in Downham Market in April 1646 when escape abroad through King’s Lynn seemed possible. Unfortunately Parliamentary watches were kept on the river so no boat could be hired. The King and his two companions retreated to Snore Hall manor house at nearby Fordham until a treaty with the Scots was deemed the best course of action.

Panoramic view of cyclists on the Holkham Hall Estate in Norfolk.

Holkham Hall.

Princess Victoria came to King’s Lynn in 1835, two years before she became Queen, on her way to stay at Holkham Hall. Apparently the townspeople were so excited that they took the horses out of the coach and wanted to pull the carriage themselves. Princess Victoria and her mother, the Duchess of Kent, were so alarmed by this boisterous behaviour that they fled into a house in Buckingham Terrace until they could be reassured and were then pulled through the streets of Lynn by the men.

Great Yarmouth-born Sir James Paget (1814-1899) was surgeon to Queen Victoria for 41 years. He has an eponymous hospital in Gorleston and is regarded as the father of British pathology.

Sandringham House.

Queen Victoria bought the 20,000 acre Sandringham Estate near King’s Lynn in 1862 for the future King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, and his soon-to-be-wife Alexandra of Denmark. Edward’s son and heir George V described the sprawling property as ‘dear old Sandringham, the place I love better than anywhere else in the world’. He would eventually die at Sandringham house on January 20, 1936. His son and Queen Elizabeth II’s father, George VI, would eventually pass away in the house on February 6, 1952.

The Royal family have traditionally spent Christmas at Sandringham, walking to the local church on Christmas Day where there are always crowds of well-wishers.

In 1957, Queen Elizabeth II gave her first televised Christmas message from Sandringham. ‘I wish you all, young and old, wherever you may be, all the fun and enjoyment and the peace of a very happy Christmas,’ said the young Queen.

Since The Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 the public have been able to visit 600 acres of the estate, as well as the house itself and museum.

Prince Charles Sandringham Flower Show Norfolk

One of the highlights of Sandringham’s year is the annual Flower Show in July, traditionally attended by Prince Charles, now King Charles III.