Sandringham House, UK – the Queen’s private home
Do you know where is the Queen’s private home?
Everyone, ok maybe not everyone, but definitely everyone who visits UK, will have heard of Buckingham Palace, and probably Windsor Castle. Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s official home, call it the royal family’s HQ if you want. Windsor Castle is outside of London and is where the Queen and her husband Prince Philip stayed during Covid. It’s also where Prince Philip died a few months ago. Both properties are owned by the Crown and the Queen gets to live there as long as she’s the Queen. She doesn’t own them.
The Queen does, however, personally own a few houses, which in you and I eyes, we’d call mansions. One of them is called Sandringham House at Norfolk, in the east of England.
相信所有人都會聽過英國白金漢宮， 是英女皇的皇宮。 但聞說，英女皇其實至愛是位於英國東部諾福克郡，她的私人住所山靜咸府。 她每年都會跟家人在這裏度過聖誕節。
山靜咸府在1862年由維多利亞女王用22萬英磅購買給其長子愛德華七世。 這個銀碼相等於今天的2700萬英鎊！ 而據估計山靜咸府整個莊園今天價值4800萬英鎊。
最近我到山靜咸府莊園遊覽， 可惜大宅內不能拍照跟大家分享。 內裏裝潢顯得高貴但仍 透著優雅的氛圍。 雖然貴為英女王，其實她也跟普通人一樣喜歡展示自己得到的重要獎項。 英女皇愛賽馬是眾所周知， 她自己養了幾匹賽馬在大賽中贏得的獎盃，放在餐桌上 做生果盤。 我覺得這點很可愛。
莊園另一個必看景點是St Mary Magdalene Church 。這座教堂建於16 世紀，當英女皇及家人入住山靜咸府時，就會到這裏參加主日崇拜及每年一度最重要的聖誕崇拜。小小一座教堂，多年來也見證了不少皇室公主公子的領洗 ，而最近一位就是英女皇的6歲曾孫夏洛特小公主。
The Queen’s private home – Sandringham Estate
Sandringham Estate was bought by Queen Victoria in 1862 for her eldest son Edward VII. He was the Queen’s great grandfather. The entire estate has about 8000 hectares of land and includes the main house, a 16th century church, vast gardens and woodland and many other smaller properties rented out to tenants. Queen Victoria paid £220k for it back in 1862, which in today’s money is about £27.4m!!! Today, the estate is estimated to be worth £48.5m!!!
This is the Queen’s country retreat and apparently, she really enjoys it here. It is therefore not surprising that she normally spends Christmas here with her family every year.
THE FRONT ENTRANCE
During summer, the house is open to public and this is a great way to see how the other half lives in England. The house has three floors, but only the ground floor is open to public. Sadly, no photos were permitted inside so I can’t show you what it looked like. I’ll have to leave you at the front entrance.
Having done a tour of the Queen’s private home, I can report the house is old but not drapey. You can feel it’s someone’s loving home although not the type of home you and I are accustomed to. I think it’s probably the nearest the general public can get to the Queen, to see how she lives. Which to be honest, isn’t that much different from everyone else. Having your family by your side, gathering around the dinner table. The thing that amused me most, was the Queen’s prized trophy from one of the major horse races (I can’t remember which one). The Queen keeps it on the dinner table as part of the silverware and uses it as a fruit bowl! Even the Queen likes to show off her proud moments!!
THE REAR OF THE HOUSE
Considering this is the Queen’s house, it actually isn’t large, especially when you compare it to Buckingham Palace which has 775 rooms. This is the rear of the house and the tour included rooms on the left hand side up to the green dome part.
THE SIDE OF THE HOUSE
And this is the side of the house. It’s two rooms deep, even though you can see three windows on the side. You have to remember, you can’t compare the size of the rooms at the Queen’s private home with the rooms in our house!!!
The garden outside the house covers around 24 hectares and is included in the price of the house tour. The landscape has changed over the years as each monarch has added his/her mark to it. I probably didn’t spend as much time here as I should because it was getting a bit late after I came out from the house tour. I strolled around the North Garden which extended out from the side of the house.
Then I walked across the rear of the house, around the lake looking back to the house. The view was gorgeous from this angle and I can imagine how enchanting it would look in the winter when the snow falls on the trees.
ST MARY MAGDALENE CHURCH
Another must visit location on the Sandringham Estate, is the 16th century St Mary Magdalene Church. This is where the Royal family attends their Christmas service, and has baptised many royalties. This included the King Olav V of Norway who was the great grandchild of Queen Victoria. Other royalties baptised here were Princess Diane, and her grand daughter Princess Charlotte.
Due to social distancing, there was a short queue to go inside the church. I didn’t have to wait very long as the church was quite small and people don’t spend that much time inside.
And once inside, it felt very relaxing. It’s quite a low key church in my non church goer opinion, save the silver bling altar and the beautifully decorative panels on the sides.
This pair of plaque honours the Queen’s parents. Her father King George VI died at Sandringham when she was away on a state visit to Kenya in 1952. He lay in state in this church for two days before moving back to Westminister Hall in London. That’s another reason why Sandringham holds special memories for the Queen as she was not present when her father passed away.
England’s has a plethora of grand houses that belongs to the wealthy and noble. In the past I’ve been to quite a few such as Ham House, Chatsworth House, and Basildon Park. However, apart from Buckingham Palace, Sandringham House is the closest I’ve come to royalty.