Reason to visit: if you want to stand by a polar bear raised on its rear legs, there are two in the entrance hall at Somerleyton, together with a fair old dash of taxidermy and Victoriana.
There is a maze (which I enjoyed; not too easy), some wooded walks in what feels like a Victorian garden, a sunken garden in what was once an amazing, large glassed “winter garden” area which was opened up to the elements in 1914 when it became too expensive to restore.
The tour of the house is guided, in blue plastic booties, via two dining rooms, the hall around the foot of the stairs, the entrance hall with the bears, a ballroom, the front sitting room and a small snug. No upstairs is on show. The current owners, relatively young, live in the wing furthest from the public, having moved in during 2012 upon inheriting. Thus, a new reign has begun.
It is Victorian and as I’m not a fan of this type of architecture I find it difficult to sing to loudly about it.
The second owner was a carpet tycoon from Halifax who wanted a house far enough from his mill workers that they wouldn’t criticise him for lording it up in his stately pile. In 1863 Norfolk was far enough away from Halifax (and I can confirm this, we having originally set off from West Yorkshire ourselves at the beginning of our East Anglia trip). His descendants still occupy the property. I wonder how often they make the trip back to Halifax?
When visited: June 2012
House * out of 5: **
Garden * out of 5: **
Further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somerleyton_Hall