Saturday 20 August 2016

Sheringham Park

Here's a story about Sheringham Park: The hall was started in 1813. The owners, Charlotte and Abbot Upcher, originally wanted the house to face north and have a view of the sea, but Humphry Repton, their designer, was having none of it. "The sea at Sheringham," he wrote "is not like that of the Bay of Naples." 

If I had been Mr & Mrs Upcher, I would have said; "Quite right, Mr Repton, the sea at Sheringham is not like the Bay of Naples, because Sheringham is in North Norfolk and the sea is the North Sea. So we'll let you crack on with all of those Italian projects you undoubtedly have lined up and we'll find someone else to build our house."

They didn't say that though. Even though he was getting on a bit by the time he accepted the commission to design Sheringham, you don't hire Humphry Repton to design your house and then pooh-pooh his ideas.

Sheringham House
Sheringham Hall - the sea is only a few hundred feet behind, 
not that you'd know it if you lived there
In fact, Sheringham Park, near Cromer, is the best preserved example of Humphry Repton's work, according to the NT. Here are a few factoids:
  • Humphry Repton knew the area well and had been trying to find a use for it for a while before Abbot and Charlotte came along
  • In 1812, Repton presented his proposals to the Upchers in one of his 'Red Books' - the books contained watercolours of before and after his proposed ideas, along with some poetry and prose to flatter his clients
  • The Upchers decided to go ahead, and foundation stones were laid in 1813
  • By 1816 the woodlands, orchards, and parkland were being planted
  • Sadly, Abbot died in 1819 at the age of 35 and work on Sheringham stopped
  • It remained empty for 20 years, with Charlotte staying in the old farmhouse that had stood on the site for many years
  • Sheringham was eventually finished by her son, Henry Upcher, in 1839
  • The Upcher family continued to own Sheringham and they stayed faithful to Repton - in 1975, his design for a temple was finally brought to life
  • The National Trust bought Sheringham Park in the 1980s
You can't access the house. However, the coastal and woodland walks within Sheringham Park are really very lovely. It's just as well that I only found out about the 'Adder Adventure' events that the Trust holds at Sheringham when I got home though, or my leisurely walk might have been more of a sprint.

I'm going to include this next picture, even though it's a bit rubbish and probably nobody will find it funny BUT on turning a corner I suddenly found myself looking at a recreation of Liam Gallagher's head on the path. It turned out to be a little shelter for dog walkers (none of whom looked particularly mad for it);

The Sheringham scone
Anyway! Moving swiftly on from Liam Gallagher before you think I am completely mad; I don't think Humphry Repton's Red Books included a chapter on SCONES - he was probably more of a panettone man - but luckily Sheringham didn't let me down.

The Courtyard Cafe is more of a refreshment kiosk than an actual cafe, but they had cakes and tea and coffee galore. The scone wasn't home-made but it was nice enough and the tea was lovely. 

Sheringham scone

My one complaint; the guide book really needs a map. There's a big map on a noticeboard at the entrance to the park, but I failed to take a picture of it and I have the memory of a goldfish, so I was completely clueless on where I was going. I didn't see the temple or the rhododendron garden. But - I did get to see the sea and it was WAY better than the Bay of Naples if you ask me.  

Sheringham Park: 4.5 out of 5
Scone: 3 out of 5
Sea view from the master bedroom: 0 out of 5

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