Holkham Hall, Norfolk

William Kent
Copyright: RIBA Library Photographs Collection

RIBA East has some of the most magnificent Palladian buildings in the country.

Comprising the counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk, historically this has always been prime agricultural land. Economically rich in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a great number of Palladian buildings were erected in its towns and cities, and at the centre of country estates.

Largely untouched by the Industrial Revolution, and in spite of recent population growth encouraged by proximity to the capital, this Palladian legacy remains prominent today.

The primary example: Holkham Hall

Set near the north Norfolk coast, Holkham Hall (1734 - 1764) seems remote from London. How did such a great pile, in effect a giant Palladian villa, get to be built here?

Find out more about Holkham Hall


Other Palladian buildings in the region

Early Palladian work is surprisingly difficult to find in the region. Raynham Hall (c. 1622 - 1635) is often celebrated as a pioneering example of Palladian architecture in Britain, signalling the spread of Inigo Jones's court style. However, it is stylistically confused and has been much adapted. Cambridge, with its colleges, has plenty of fine later seventeenth-century architecture, however little is strictly Palladian.

Many other grand Neo-Palladian mansions in the region compete for attention. Houghton Hall (1722 - 1734) is one of the best of these; it too has outstanding interiors by William Kent. Other contenders include Peckover (1720s), Moor Park (1720s) and Woburn Abbey (1740s). These are complemented by many smaller houses, closer in scale to Palladio's original Venetian villas.

Towns such as Bury St Edmunds, St Albans, Colchester and Holt have fine brick town houses, calmly asserting their Palladian ancestry. And Norwich, well known for its varied historic built environment, has some surprising finds, such as the Neo-Palladian Octagon Chapel (1750), the model for Non-Conformist chapels in Britain and the United States. Even the Norwich Union headquarters are housed in an early twentieth-century Neo-Palladian mansion.

Find out more

Why not use the resources of the RIBA British Architectural Library to better understand the legacy of Palladio and the Palladians in this region?

Explore using our gazetteer, which lists Palladian buildings by county, and the wealth of information including books, journals and images related to these in the RIBA Library.

In addition to this, you can use our bibliography dedicated to the life, works and influence of Palladio.

RIBApix images

RIBApix, the RIBA Library's online digital database, is constantly expanding. Why not use www.ribapix.com to explore RIBA East and Palladian architecture in Britain?