A closer look at Sandringham House, the Queen’s stunning Norfolk home

The beloved family home where the monarch usually spends the festive period.

Sandringham
(Image credit: Getty Images)

She may spend the majority of her time living at Buckingham Palace, but it’s no secret that Queen Elizabeth II likes to spend her winters at Sandringham House...

  • Sandringham House is one of two personal and private residences owned by The Royal Family, unlike the Royal palaces that belong to the Crown - such as Buckingham Palace.
  • It's where the Queen usually spends the Christmas period, staying there until mid-February every year.
  • However in the latest royal news - this year, the Queen won't be there over the festive season. Find out why here.

Where is Sandringham House?

Located in Norfolk, Sandringham House stands within a 20,000 acres estate in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – so it’s no surprise Her Majesty enjoys being there.

It's located in the village of Sandringham, within the town of King's Lynn - just a three hour drive from London.

Earlier this year, the stunning house played host to 'crisis talks' between the Queen, Price Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they will 'step back' as senior members of the Royal Family.

A brief history of Sandringham House - when did the Queen inherit the royal home?

Queen

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Queen inherited Sandringham from her father King George VI in 1952, following his death on February 6.

Sandringham House has been the private home to four generations of sovereigns since 1862, when it was purchased for King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, as a country home for himself and his soon-to-be wife, Princess Alexandra of Denmark. Edward VII also developed the estate, creating one of the finest shoots in England.

Following King Edward VII's death in 1910, the estate passed to his second son and heir, King George V, who described the house as 'dear old Sandringham, the place I love better than anywhere else in the world'. It was the setting for the first ever Christmas broadcast in 1932. George V died at the house on January 20, 1936.

The estate passed to his son King Edward VIII and at the abdication, as the private property of the monarch, was purchased by Edward VIII’s brother, King George VI.

How much is Sandringham House worth?

Sandringham

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sandringham House is estimated to be worth £48.5 million.

When the Queen inherited the property in 1952, The Duke of Edinburgh took overall responsibility for its management.

One of His Royal Highness's principles has been to maintain the estate for future generations, so conservation has always been an important part of the Estate's management practises.

The estate is also home to York Cottage and Anmer Hall. York Cottage was built by Edward VII soon after he moved in and it has since become the country home of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, after Her Majesty gave it to them as a wedding gift when they got married last year. Anmer Hall is a Georgian house on the grounds. At one point it was the country home of the Duke of Kent, but it is now the country home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

When does the Queen stay at Sandringham House - and who else lives there?

Her Majesty normally resides at Sandringham House from Christmas until February every year.

The Queen enjoys spending December 25 there and is annually joined by many members of The Royal Family, who traditionally visit The Church of St. Mary Magdalene on the Sandringham Estate at Christmas time.

In 1957, the Queen made her first televised Christmas broadcast from the house.

But of course - this year will be the first time in 32 years that the monarch and her family won't be at Sandringham for Christmas. The monarch and Prince Philip have announced that they will instead be spending the festive season 'quietly' alone at Windsor Castle, in light of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The decision means we won't see the popular family walk to Church as in previous years, nor the Queen's annual train journey up to Norfolk.

In 1957, the Queen made her first televised Christmas broadcast from the house.

But of course - this year will be the first time in 32 years that the monarch and her family won't be at Sandringham for Christmas. The monarch and Prince Philip have announced that they will instead be spending the festive season 'quietly' alone at Windsor Castle, in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision means we won't see the popular family walk to Church as in previous years, nor the Queen's annual train journey up to Norfolk.

The royal family relish in their annual stays at Sandringham, throwing gatherings and parties for their nearest and dearest there - taking advantage of the vast countryside around them and the spacious home!

Sandringham

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Now, Prince Philip spends much of his time on the Sandringham Estate now that he is retired - living in the cottage Wood Farm within the grounds. But it's thought he lives in the main house with the Queen when she is there.

No other members of the royal family live at Sandringham House full time, but many of them do stay there temporarily over the Christmas period.

What are the Sandringham House grounds like?

The house is set within 24 hectares of land, providing ample outside space for the Queen and her guests to enjoy.

Each monarch to have lived at the house has put their own stamp on the grounds, adding to the wide range of shrubbery, flowers, lawns and trees.

There are also a multitude of lakes within the gardens, which are all fed by natural springs. Many parts of the gardens are cornered off by intricate walls and gates too, adding a special touch to the royal abode.

But not many people know that technically, the Sandringham Estate itself spans across a huge 13 villages in Norfolk. On the estate, there are over 300 residential and commercial properties, many of which are rented out and lived in by normal people.

Sandringham

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Can members of the public visit Sandringham House?

In 1977, the year of her Silver Jubilee, the Queen opened the house and gardens to the public for the first time. The house, the landscaped gardens, park and woodlands are listed Grade II* on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

However, only certain parts of the grounds and house are open to the public - including its museum, lavish gardens and visitor centre, and only at certain times of the year.

In 2020, the house had planned to be open from 3rd April - 14th October. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was shut for much of the year. 

In fact, the house is now closed until 2021, but you can still visit the country park surrounding the estate. Visit the website here to learn more.

If you are visiting next year, the Sandringham Estate website recommends that visitors allow at least four hours time to visit, in order to get the most out of their time there.

The Visitor Centre Restaurant offers a two-course lunch with tickets to visit the house, museum and gardens. Sandringham House also hosts a large garden show each July ensuring that this royal residence is well worth a visit, even if it’s just to see where Her Majesty pulls her crackers every year.

In fact, you can even stay within the Sandringham Estate now! If you're visiting, you can book a room at the Park House hotel, within the estate, or you can camp or caravan on the site. Find out more here.

Looking at pics of Sandringham House, we're not surprised the Queen likes to spend her winters holed up there!

Amy Hunt
Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is Life Channel Editor at womanandhome.com, having been with the brand since 2015. She began as the magazine's features assistant before moving over to digital as a News and Features Writer, before becoming Senior Writer, and now a Channel Editor. She has worked on either women's lifestyle websites previously too—including Woman's Weekly, Goodto.com, Woman, and Woman's Own. In 2019, Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards, for her work on womanandhome.com. She is passionate about everything from books, to homes, to food and the latest news on the royal family. When she isn't editing or updating articles on cleaning, homewares, the newest home gadgets, or the latest books releases for the website, she's busy burying her nose in a gripping thriller, practising yoga, or buying new homeware of her own.