The Obelisk, designed by William Kent, at Holkham

The Park

The Obelisk at Holkham

The obelisk is situated due south of Holkham Hall. It was the first work erected at Holkham by Thomas Coke, (later 1st Earl of Leicester of the 1st creation) evidently to signal his intention to build a great hall. The structure was designed by William Kent, although it differs from his original drawing. It is the only creation of his now visible from the house, and the only feature that has remained unchanged since Holkham Hall was built. It stands on the highest point within sight of the hall, although not so high as the Triumphal Arch, which lies further south, just outside Holkham park.

Work on the obelisk started in 1729 and was completed in 1732. The structure was built amidst the fields of the original Holkham village which lay around the site of the present hall, but it was exactly aligned with the centre of the future hall. This was the result of a masterly piece of planning and surveying, bearing in mind that building the hall did not start until 1734 and that the central block (with which the obelisk is in line) was not started until the 1740s.