A historical photo of the Longlands area in Holkham park, Norfolk

The Park

Longlands

An area called Longlands towards the south of the parish of Holkham was known in the Middle Ages and is shown on the earliest map of Holkham dated 1590.

In the early 1730s Thomas Coke, builder of the Hall (later 1st Earl of Leicester of the 1st creation) created a new farm which he called Longlands, providing it with new farm premises on the site which is also now known as Longlands. This was part of the process of enclosure and rationalisation of the Holkham farms which, at that time, numbered five or six tenanted farms that made possible his creation of a park to surround his proposed hall.

His great-nephew and successor, Thomas William Coke (later 1st Earl of Leicester of the 2nd creation), the famous farmer, took Longlands farm back in hand in the 1790s and proceeded over the next few years to equip it with extensive new buildings. These included a barn, a ‘hexagon keeping room for Mr Wright’, the farm bailiff, stables, granaries and wool chambers. In 1798 a “sheep shew house” was added. The new buildings were probably designed by the architect Samuel Wyatt, who was active at Holkham in 1792 to 1794. They replaced old farm premises in the original village, located near to the south end of the lake, as the headquarters of the hall farm (later known as Park Farm) and they became the focus of Thomas William Coke’s annual Sheep Shearings, first reported in the local press in the year that the sheep show house was built.

Some of the present buildings date back to the 1790s or earlier: probably the cattle yards and sheds and the surviving barn which, despite alterations, appears to be the setting for a famous painting of the Shearings. A new village to house eleven families working at Longlands was originally known as Longlands village, later New Holkham (since rebuilt).

Longlands as seen today is largely the result of massive re-development in the 1850s by Thomas William Coke’s son, the 2nd Earl of Leicester, and his new agent, H. W. Keary. More cattle yards, implement sheds and wagon lodges with granaries above were built and a large range of estate workshops was added, including implement sheds, carpenters’ shop, saw mill, smithies and workshops, with a steam engine to power the saw mill, bellows and lathes. They were designed by a prominent agricultural engineer and architect, G. A. Dean, and were on a scale comparable to the notable buildings at the Duke of Bedford’s Woburn estate (built about ten years earlier). They replaced the last of the old estate workshops that had remained between the lake and the kitchen gardens.

Through centralisation of farming practices the buildings had become largely redundant and one of the challenges for the estate was how to re-use these historic Grade II and II* farm buildings. In 2015 the first phase of a £2 million renovation of Longlands with the creation of 9,000 square feet of modern office accommodation was completed, transforming the former home farm once again into the commercial heart of the estate. The project is known as Holkham Studios.

The modern Holkham Studios in Holkham park, Norfolk