|Looking across the courtyard towards the old pottery factory|
Ever since it was built in the middle of the 18th century the hall has welcomed visitors: “Strangers or travellers on Tuesdays” but the hall “may be seen any day of the week, except Sunday, by noblemen and foreigners!” My ancestors recognised that visitors would be intrigued by the hall, the interiors and of course the fine art collection, but a house like Holkham, with a history of over 250 years, doesn’t rest in aspic. It develops to meet different needs. Hence in Victorian times the stables, the terraces, the steward’s office (now the estate office), porter’s lodge and a laundry were added. In the 20th century a building to house electric generators was added, as was the pottery factory.
The development was organic and not necessarily planned with visitors in mind. As the hall and park are now very definitely a large tourist destination and as the pottery/bowling alley building was beginning to fall into disrepair, we felt this was the time to address these issues. It is also an excellent opportunity to provide some state-of-the art, new open-plan offices for our staff. Hopkins Architects were chosen because, amongst other reasons, I have not seen a Hopkins-designed building I have not liked. We are lucky in Norfolk to have a number of fine examples of their work including The Forum and The Hostry at the cathedral in Norwich, the refurbished St George’s Chapel in Great Yarmouth and, closer to home, The Longhouse in Cockthorpe village. They have brought great design flair to our project and I am confident we will have a fantastic 21st century conversion of the buildings around the hall.