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Norfolk Map

Although there is evidence of Sandringham being occupied from as early as 1296, the current building dates from 1870, when the previous Georgian house was almost completely demolished to make way for a home fit for Queen Victoria's son Albert, the future King Edward VII. Apparently she wanted him kept well away from the temptations of London.

It is now the private home of the Royal Family, where they spend Christmas and two weeks in the summer. For the rest of the year, six rooms are open to the public, along with the grounds and the stables complex.

The House and Grounds

The rooms are stuffed with what in a less exalted context, would be described as nick-nacks. All no doubt valuable (especially the Fabrergé collection) and many of them gifts from important dignitaries. The overall effect, however, is of a down market gift shop.

Unfortunately no photography is allowed in the house, so you will have to imagine things like the gilded display cases surmounted by the 'monkey orchestra' (porcelain figurines of monkeys dressed in 18th century garb playing various instruments) and other such joys.

The grounds, however, are delightful. Not least because when I was there in June, the majority of the visitors were not up to walking very far and were all back on their coaches by 4pm, so I had the place almost to myself.

For opening times, ticket prices, etc., please go to the official web site detailed below.

The Stable Block Museum

The old stable at Sandringham, have now been converted into a Tea Rooms and Museum, the latter containing, containing an eclectic mix of things, including yet more porcelain figurines, and the severed heads of numerous animals killed by various members of the Royal family.

Surreally some of these have been carefully arranged into tableaux that try to disguise the fact that their bodies are missing (the animals that is, not the Royals).

The pride of the collection, however must go to the vehicles. From the first royal car, a 1900 Daimler Phaeton right up to the 1961 Rolls Royce Phantom V which was only retired in 2002.

Also of note are the toy cars, I would say pedal cars, but most of them are powered in one way or another. I can remember as a kid the Queen being presented with the model of the James Bond Aston Martin.

With its electrically operated revolving number plates, concealed dummy machine guns, bullet-proof shield, smoke discharger, two-way transistorised radios, etc. etc., that's what I call a toy. The rest of us had to make do with the Dinky version.

The museum is open whenever the house is open. for more details see the official web site detailed below.