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15th November - Floristry Students Help Put HO HO HO into Holkham Hall Ahead of Festive Celebrations

Press Release from Easton and Otley College.

A group of floristry learners helped put the HO HO HO into Holkham Hall ahead of a series of festive events that will take place at the Norfolk based stately home this year.

The students – from Easton and Otley College – helped prepare the hall for a month of yuletide celebrations that will include Candlelight Tours, shopping evenings, workshops, a Festive Food Fair, music and the chance for children to meet Father Christmas.

This is the seventh year in a row that Easton and Otley College floristry students have supported Holkham in this way.

Floristry lecturer, Alison Cooper, said, “It’s really great to offer our students work experience like this in such a lovely place like Holkham. They really got into the festive spirit and were professional throughout.

Alex Mills, a floristry student at the college, said, “We get involved in lots of community work on our programme. We have supported the church at Easton recently and we have more experiences planned in the future. This really helps our development and it’s good to get the practice. It puts you in a business frame of mind and it’s a good stepping stone to our future careers.”

In terms of the college supporting the hall in this way, The Countess of Leicester, said, “We are grateful to the college for supporting us as we get ready to make the hall magical for our visitors this Christmas.”

Next up, students will be working with a local Norfolk charity called Leeway to help them prepare for their Christmas ball as part of an ongoing partnership with this benevolent cause.

1st November 2018 - Eurasian Spoonbills - A Breeding Success Story on the Holkham National Nature Reserve

Holkham National Nature Reserve is home to the first colony of nesting Spoonbills in Britain since the 1600s. Andy Bloomfield, Warden at the Holkham National Nature Reserve, will speak at a special workshop in Tunisia, organised by the AEWA Eurasian Spoonbill International Expert Group on 14th - 18th November 2018

October 2018 - Spoonbills started to prospect at the Holkham National Nature Reserve from the late 1990s and, after several failed attempts at nesting, a colony formed in 2010 of 6 pairs. This was the first successful breeding colony in the UK since the 1600s. Through careful protection, monitoring and maintaining the right habitat around the area, the population has since grown from 6 pairs to 28 pairs (in 2017 and 2018) and an incredible 244 youngsters have fledged in that time. The colony at Holkham is currently the only colony in the British Isles and one of the estate’s greatest conservation success stories. The birds fly to the reserve in March from Holland, France, Spain and Germany and migrate south to southern Europe and Africa with increasing numbers favouring southern England in more recent years.

Andy Bloomfield, Warden at the Holkham NNR, will speak at a special workshop in November, organised by the AEWA Eurasian Spoonbill International Expert Group. The workshop runs from 14th to 18th November and is being held on Djerba Island, Tunisia. Andy has been invited to talk about the Spoonbill breeding success story on the Holkham NNR and will cover topics such as their arrival on the reserve, behaviour and future. The workshop will provide a unique opportunity to exchange and strengthen connectivity between people involved in studying and managing wetlands for the conservation of Eurasian Spoonbill and associated waterbird populations.

Andy commented “I personally have been involved with the Spoonbills at Holkham since 2004, witnessing their failed attempts, the first ever nesting pair here and took the first ever photographs of British-born chicks and monitored their proceedings since. Part of my interest is behaviour and I am currently working on a paper on their ecology at Holkham. Being invited to a gathering of international experts is an absolute honour and privilege for both myself and the estate in recognition of the work we have done and still currently doing and gives us an opportunity in giving the estate a more prominent name within international bird conservation circles. The workshop will also allow us to share our experiences with an international audience who will be in a better position to offer advice on all manner of Spoonbill matters.”

Spanning the coast from Burnham Norton to Blakeney, the Holkham National Nature Reserve in north Norfolk covers an area of around 3,706 hectares. Designated in 1967, it is a unique and very special mix of habitats including freshwater grazing marshes, saltmarsh, mature pine woodland, sand dunes and also renowned for its golden sands. The area welcomes migrant birds, including thousands of Pink-footed Geese during winter and is home to rare flora and fauna providing a rich and diverse natural offering. In 2012, the Holkham Estate resumed control of the Holkham National Nature Reserve and in July 2017 the estate was awarded Approved Body Status under Section 35 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. This makes Holkham one of a select few privately-owned estates in England to hold this status and enables it to manage the reserve which was previously managed by Natural England. In August 2018, the Holkham Estate opened The Lookout, a brand new visitor centre located at the entrance to Holkham beach with a small café, central drinking fountain and lavatory facilities.

2nd October 2018 - Celebrate Christmas at Holkham

Thursday 29th November – Thursday 20th December 2018

Enter the festive spirit at Holkham this Christmas with candlelight tours of the magnificently decorated state rooms, seasonal opera, a series of craft workshops, a truly festive food fair and a special visit from Father Christmas and his elves. Holkham Hall will open its doors this Christmas for a variety of spectacular seasonal celebrations including Candlelight Tours of the hall, Christmas music, a two-day Food Fair, Christmas craft workshops, Christmas shopping and a special visit from Father and Mother Christmas and their all-singing and all-dancing band of Ukulele Elves.

The celebrations begin on Friday 30th November with a sparkling performance of ‘Home for Christmas’ by Diva Opera, Britain’s foremost chamber opera company. ‘Home for Christmas’ is a lively and heartwarming tale about a family reuniting for the festive season recalling Christmases past and revealing their hopes for the future. Featuring arias, songs and carols, the show will delight audiences of all ages. The festive music continues on Tuesday 11thDecember with a Chamber Music Concert featuring Portuguese tenor, Luis Gomes who will be joined by Carole Presland on piano. The programme includes songs by Rachmaninov, Fauré, Bellini, Tosti and de Curtis with piano solos by Ravel and Liszt and arias by Mozart, Léhar, Donizetti and Verdi. There will also be a rare and wonderful opportunity to hear the Norwich Cathedral Choir performing a special Christmas concert in the beautiful Marble Hall on Tuesday 18th December. The 52 strong choir will perform a feast of best–loved Christmas music in aid of the Norwich Cathedral Music Appeal.

For the second year running, Holkham will be hosting a selection of Christmas themed workshops with a chance to get creative to suit every member of the family. ‘A Natural Christmas’ workshop will inspire children to get creative and fuel their imagination making their own decorations which they can proudly display at home. Nothing quite says Christmas like putting a handmade wreath on your front door and budding florists can try their hand at creating their own wreaths and floral arrangements at the ‘Wreath Making’ and ‘Festive Flowers’ workshops.

Holkham’s spectacular Candlelight Tours offer a magical opportunity to see the state rooms adorned with opulent decorations and beautiful flickering candlelight. The guided tours are a unique chance to see the wonderful decorations, learn about how they were created and find out the inspiration behind each room setting. The pièce de résistance for this year’s hall display is in the Statue Gallery where there will be a full size parterre garden, inspired by Italian gardens of the 18th century. Designed by landscape gardener Lucy Roberts the display will feature a wintry scene with the formal terraces laid out with box hedging, tall cypress trees, classical sculptures and wildlife and visitors will have a chance to wander through the magical setting.

Following the success of last year’s inaugural Festive Food Fair, The Lady Elizabeth Wing will host the second, two-day event showcasing a delicious collection of Christmas food and drink from local and regional producers. Entertainment in the form of a cookery theatre with demonstrations from local chefs, will provide plenty of inspiration and key tips for visitor’s own Christmas feasts.

Throughout the festive period Holkham’s Courtyard Gift Shop – the perfect place to seek out Christmas gifts - will be open daily offering an array of exquisite tree and room decorations as used in the hall displays, in addition to the shop’s usual selection of exclusive gifts from local artisans. There will be special Christmas shopping evenings with a 10% discount on all purchases and a gift wrapping service, along with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie to enjoy whilst browsing the Christmas selection.

Last but not least, families will delight at the arrival of Father Christmas at Holkham Hall, with his band of Ukulele Elves, as he stops off during his busy schedule for a very special Audience With Father Christmas. Father and Mother Christmas will be in the Saloon regaling children with tales of wonder and magic, along with music and surprises from his elves. There will be a present for every child as well as a biscuit and soft drink and a glass of Prosecco for adults.

For further details and to book online:

30th August 2018 - The Holkham Estate Opens 'The Lookout'

New visitor facilities at the Holkham National Nature Reserve in Norfolk for the 800,000 annual visitors.

Holkham National Nature Reserve on the north Norfolk coast was designated in 1967 due to the range of habitats and wildlife it supports. Much of the reserve is former saltmarsh that had been reclaimed since the mid-17th century by the Coke family and the Holkham Estate for grazing sheep and cattle. Today the grazing marshes are nationally important for wintering wildfowl and breeding birds such as Lapwing, Little Tern and Spoonbill.

There can be few people who have not been moved by the sheer scale and beauty of the beach and the wide variety of wildlife found on the reserve but the lack of lavatories has been a major source of dissatisfaction for the 800,000 people who come to visit each year.

In 2012 Holkham Estate appointed architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) to work on plans for a visitor centre that would provide lavatories and a modest refreshment facility, but most importantly, to provide a centre to inform and educate visitors of all ages about the diversity of the reserve and to increase awareness for the need to protect these special habitats.

FCBS are one of the leading practices in the UK and are noted for their commitment to sustainable architecture. In 2008 FCBS won the Stirling Prize which is widely regarded as the highest accolade in architecture. Planning permission was granted in December 2015 and the estate further appointed Wymondham based architects, Lucas + Western Architects, to manage the detailed delivery of the building and complete the project. The estate also appointed local structural engineers, Plandescil of Attleborough, to undertake the complex engineering works associated with the building.

The construction of The Lookout was awarded to local company, Robson Construction Ltd, who, as a major building contractor in the Norfolk area, has been responsible for several major projects on the Holkham Estate.

Holkham Estate’s Managing Director, Peter Mitchell, commented: “The Lookout already feels embedded in the landscape. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to raise awareness of the valuable conservation work on the Holkham National Nature Reserve and how visitors can play their part. The project’s completion highlights Holkham Estate’s continued investment in enhancing the visitor experience.”

Holkham National Nature Reserve is one of the most important nature reserves in the country and a second important principle behind the project has been to provide a centre to inform and educate visitors of all ages about the diversity of the reserve and to increase awareness for the need to protect this special habitat. The reserve is best known for its stunning panoramic beach and the rich and varied wildlife found on the grazing and salt marshes. Within the building visitors can find out about the reserve through a variety of visual, interactive and informative interpretation, along with three television screens highlighting the wildlife to be seen from photos and video footage. Outside high-tide times are displayed and the reserve’s bird sightings are displayed. The reserve’s wardens and estate’s education team will be planning engagement events to inspire and educate visitors. For birdwatchers, there are spectacular views out over the grazing marshes with opportunities to see some of the many species of birds that the area is renowned for, whether a single rare migrant or the spectacular sight of thousands of pink-footed geese.

The Lookout is located at the entrance to Holkham beach and was completed in mid-August. This uniquely-designed, circular structure is aesthetically pleasing and sits happily within the landscape. The building provides a modest catering facility committed to reducing single-use plastic using 100% plant-based compostable packaging. Visitors can purchase a ‘cup for life’ with drinks. A feature of a central sculpture of reeds created by local blacksmiths at Holkham Forge on the estate, will supply free water at three different levels for customers. An electric vehicle serves the business with two electric charging points installed close by. The Lookout serves freshly cooked and locally sourced food and a ‘wrapper free’ ice-lolly machine is sure to be a highlight over the summer and hot soups in the winter. The café also offers much-needed lavatories for the area; comprising five lavatories, including an accessible lavatory and baby-changing facilities.

28th August 2018 - Holkham appoints Jake Fiennes to new role as General Manager, Conservation

Jake Fiennes will join the senior management team at Holkham later this year in a newly-created role as General Manager, Conservation.

Peter Mitchell, Managing Director at Holkham, explains the new role: “I am delighted to announce Jake’s appointment to join the senior management team at Holkham later this year. He will take direct responsibility for the management of Holkham National Nature Reserve, working closely with our team of wardens, with our Advisory Board and with Natural England. In parallel with this, he will steer Holkham towards the very best conservation practices across the Estate.

Holkham is justifiably proud of its track record in conservation, not just as evidenced by our approved-body status to run a National Nature Reserve, but for our approach to farming, gamekeeping, forestry, landscape management and for our wider sustainability policies in energy, recycling and visitor impact. Jake’s role will be to seek out and champion all the opportunities to raise our conservation practices and policies to the next level.”

In his role, Jake Fiennes will spearhead and continue to develop the estate’s wildlife programmes, such as Holkham’s award-winning Grey Partridge programme which has been widely acclaimed. Headkeeper Mark Fitzer and his team will report into this new conservation role - Holkham’s keepers play a critical role in creating successful habitats for all the species on the Holkham National Nature Reserve, as well as all gamebirds, songbirds, raptors, wildflowers, pollinators and invertebrates across the Estate.

The Earl of Leicester’s passion for conservation is widely known and apparent from the way the Estate is managed. Lord Leicester chairs the Norfolk branch of the CLA and the Wildlife Estates, England committee and travels widely in the UK and across Europe to see the best practices in conservation at Estate scale, bringing the ambition and challenge back to North Norfolk.

Lord Leicester commented: “Conservation practices – what really works at landscape scale, how they fit within modern commercial farming and how they are recognised and supported by government – are all changing fast. I am keen to see Holkham take a leadership role in developing and proving how conservation-focused practices and a supportive approach from DEFRA can push up productivity and make a meaningful and sustained improvement to wildlife habitats. Jake Fiennes has been a pioneer in this journey and will bring his expertise and ambition to Holkham. I am delighted to see him join our team.”

Jake joins Holkham from the Raveningham Estate in Norfolk where he has been Estate Manager. In this role Jake has managed all aspects of the 5,500-acre estate, from its contract farming agreements to its property, gardens, forestry, gamekeeping and visitor business and the operation of Raveningham Hall for the owners.

Through this work, Jake has achieved great success in creating a highly productive conservation regime, developing and enhancing a range of farmland species and habitats. His work has generated widespread interest and has won awards for the Raveningham Estate for its integrated wildlife farming system.

Jake serves as a Trustee and Director for Norfolk Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), as East Anglia’s representative on the NFU’s Environmental Forum, as a Norfolk committee member for the CLA and as a member of the Steering Group for Wildlife Estates, England.

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