Sandringham House. Albert Jenkins Humbert. 1866-70. Near Sandringham, Norfolk. Illustration taken from How (frontispiece). Text by Jacqueline Banerjee.
The chief interest of Sandringham House lies in its connection with the royal family. Lord Palmerston had seen its potential as a country seat, and the property was then acquired as a "shooting-box" for Prince Edward. The house already there was subsequently demolished to make way for a grander one, with some influence from Blickling Hall, a Jacobean house in the same county (see Turner). C. Rachel Jones describes the result as "a good-looking, red brick house with white stonework, windows of modern form, and a picturesque irregular outline" (21).
The east front (from C. R. Jones, between pp. 30 and 31).
Other accounts are more critical: "Vaguely historical in appearance, but without scholarly substance, it is pure mid-Victorian with its porte cochere, gables, bay windows, towers, turrets, and tall chimneys, all built in brick with pale Ketton stone details," writes Nigel Jones, adding that everything in the house "was and still is late Victorian dark abundance, with no surface left undecorated" (249). The latter comment also sounds negative, but of course this makes the interior intensely revealing for interior design historians.
Left: The large drawing room (from C. R. Jones, between pp.58 and 59). Right:The principal conservatory (from How, p. 333).
What has been preserved here is not an Arts and Crafts showpiece but something more generally representative, if up-market. Note especially the staginess of the large drawing room with its heavy, plush soft-furnishings (the hangings are of "rich chenille," How 332) framing a sculpture of Venus and Cupid in a surround of rocks and plants. A corridor ornamented with armour, swords, antique china, stuffed birds in glass cases, and so on, links the whole suite of drawing rooms (see How 330). Also on show in the large drawing room, and probably in the rest too, are embroidery pieces, sketches, feather screens and other pieces of handiwork that show off the skills of the womenfolk. Times were yet to change at Sandringham, and the royal household would have been particularly conservative. The main drawing room opens into the principal conservatory, which has fancy ironwork in the light-brackets and the dramatic palms and giant ferns so beloved of the Victorians. The interior was quite up-to-date in its amenities, with the latest kitchen equipment, and gas lighting: there was an "estate gas plant" (Nigel Jones 250).
How, Harry. "The Prince of Wales at Sandringham." Strand Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 28 (April 1893): 327-39. Available offsite here.
Jones, C. Rachel (Mrs Herbert). Sandringham, Past and Present. London: Jarrold, 1888. Available offsite here.
Jones, Nigel R. Architecture of England, Scotland, and Wales. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2005.
Turner, Michael. "Humbert, Albert Jenkins (1821-1877." The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Viewed 26 April 2010.
Last modified 26 September 2017