IMG_5527We had a very enjoyable walk around one of our local ‘haunts’ on Sunday – Sheringham Park, in north Norfolk. I think we can honestly say that we’ve visited this beautiful landscape in all weathers – I recall the children sledging down some of the steep slopes in the snow and also the time we took some visiting friends there in the pouring rain!  Fortunately the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky on this latest visit.

The Park surrounds Sheringham Hall (privately occupied), but Sheringham Park is in the care of the National Trust and is open for visitors. The Park was designed by the famous Landscape Gardener, Humphry Repton, who presented his proposals in July 1812 in the form of one of his ‘Red Books’ – he showed ‘before and after’ fold – out images to illustrate the differences his design proposals would make. He described Sheringham as his ‘favourite child in Norfolk’ and he is buried in Aylsham Church, about 15 miles to the south. At the time he was in his later years and his star was on the wane, but this Park is described by some as his most successful landscape design. Abbot and Charlotte Upcher bought the Estate in 1811, and successive generations of the Upcher family did much to develop it, as well as the Hall and the park, and also built a school.

The landscape has been moulded to make the most of the natural hills and vales (formed by glacial gravels). Many of the trees are now of a very mature age and there is some evidence of felling or ‘natural topple over’ as they near the end of their normal lifespans. The Trust has done much new planting and maintains the ‘wilderness’ feel of some areas, along with mature woodland with glades and pools, surrounding heathlands (with interesting views towards the restored North Norfolk Railway, the coast and North Sea), plus all the elements of the romantic landscape around the House and its setting.

The woodlands also contain a large variety of rhododendrons and azaleas. In the early 20th century Henry Morris Upcher obtained rhododendron seeds of various types from plantsman ‘Chinese’ Wilson. Many other species of tree and shrub are represented in the park, including fifteen kinds of magnolia, maples, acers,styrax, Eucryphia, Davidia involucrata and a fine example of the ‘Snowdrop Tree’,  Halesia. Several outlook towers and viewpoints provide good views over the park and of the nearby coast and surrounding countryside. Recently a new ‘Bower Garden’ has been created which provides a wonderful den building area, enclosed seating area and widllife pond which had many tadpoles, pond skaters and the like on our visit.

If you visit you’ll also have the benefit of an interesting exhibition about Repton and the development of the estate, a number of marked walks plus all the usual National Trust attractions – I particularly enjoyed some Stem Ginger Ice Cream!

Old School Gardener

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