Holkham Hall is one of England’s finest examples of the Palladian revival style of architecture. It is the ancestral home of the Coke family, who became Earls of Leicester. The principal entrance is through the Marble Hall, which is in fact made of pink Derbyshire alabaster. This leads to the piano nobile, or the first floor, and state rooms.
About Holkham Hall in brief
Holkham Hall is one of England’s finest examples of the Palladian revival style of architecture. It is the ancestral home of the Coke family, who became Earls of Leicester. The interior of the hall is opulent, but by the standards of the day, simply decorated and furnished. The principal entrance is through the Marble Hall, which is in fact made of pink Derbyshire alabaster. This leads to the piano nobile, or the first floor, and state rooms. The most impressive of these rooms is the Saloon, which has walls lined with red velvet. Each of the major state rooms is symmetrical in its layout and design; in some rooms, false doors are necessary to fully achieve this balanced effect. Holkham Hall was built by Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester, who was born in 1697. It was designed by William Kent and aided by the architect and aristocrat Lord Burlington. The style was loosely based on the appearance of the works of the 16th-century Italian architect Andrea Palladio. However it did not adhere to PalladIO’s strict rules of proportion. It eventually evolved into what is generally referred to as Georgian, still popular in England today. The house is exceptional for both its severity and for its adherence to Palladian ideals, being closer than many of the other numerous Palladian style houses of the period. It has been described as one of the most beautiful country houses in the world, and one of Britain’s most beautiful houses in both town and country, although it is located in a remote area of Norfolk.
It also has the distinction of being the only Palladian-style house in the UK to have been built in the 18th century. The current owner is the Earl of Gloucestershire, who has lived at the house since the early 20th century, and also owns a large estate in Suffolk and Dorset, as well as several other properties in the South East of England. The estate was built up by Sir Edward Coke, the founder of his family’s fortune. He bought Neales manor in 1609, though never lived there, and made many other purchases of land in Norfolk to endow to his six sons. His fourth son, John, inherited the land and married heiress Meriel Wheatley in 1612. They made Hill Hall their home, and by 1659, John had complete ownership of all three Holkam manors. The architect Matthew Brettingham was employed as the on-site clerk of works for the estate. He was responsible for the interiors of the Southwest pavilion or family wing, particularly the Longterter block, which produced a variety of alternative variety ofitecture. He also designed the Library, which was particularly influential in the design of the mansion, although he attributed the design to the Lordship’s buildings, particularly for the exterteriors of his exteriors. He died in 1759, having never fully recovered his financial losses. He left the estate to his wife, Lady Margaret Tufton, Countess of Leicester, in 1726.