October 7, 2001
On his grand tour Thomas Cooke developed a taste for the antique style in the manner of Palladio. This house is his answer. You enter into the Marble Hall where you get to view the acquisitions from his grand tour, a fine collection of ancient statuary. The most valuable piece in the collection is a statue of Diana said to have belonged to Cicero. The contents of the house are almost intact, there were some valuable drawings that have been sold to pay the death duties.
One amazing fact we learned is that all the gilding in the house is original since there is a lack of polution in Norfolk. The current Earl is trying to return everything to the way it was in Thomas Cooke's lifetime. Most of the rooms were created to house certain pictures and there is no other placement that does as much for them as the original.
Among the more famous Cooke's are Edward Cooke, who prosecuted Guy Fawkes in the Gunpowder Plot and the saying "An Englishman's Home is his Castle" is attributed to him.
Another is Thomas Cooke who was an expert in farming methods. There are 2 portraits of him: one by Gainsborough and one by Battoni. He attended Bonnie Prince Charlie's wedding to Princess Louise and it is said she fell in love with Cooke and commissioned the Battoni portrait.
The Landscape Room was built to house this collection of landscape painting. The silk damask was replaced in 1989 with silk woven on 18th century looms.
The State Bedroom has furniture designed by William Kent. The North State Bedroom was a favorite of mine with the beautiful flower arrangement at the foot of the bed.
Among the outstanding art here is a Reuben's portrait of Jesus as a young boy, The Duke of Arranburg by Van Dyke, a Poussin and a Claude Lorraine.
This is a beautiful house in excellent condition. There is also a Bygones Museum, restaurant and gift shop. They make their own pottery and have an extensive collection.
Open May 27-Sept 30 Sunday to Thursday 1-5pm. Entrance is 5 pounds with Bygones Museum 8pds. Covered on the Great British Heritage Pass.
From journal Visits to the Treasure Houses of England