Christmas Magic at Holkham: A Decades-Long Tradition

Christmas Magic at Holkham: A Decades-Long Tradition hero
Lady Leicester has lived at Holkham Hall since her marriage to Lord Leicester in 1996.

Daughter of fashion designer Belinda Bellville and a first cousin of Cath Kidston, she is a milliner by profession.

In 2011, she led the development of the first Christmas at Holkham and continues to do so with co-creator Catherine Zoll, personally dressing the hall and state rooms in their festive finery.

Life at Holkham Hall -

We live in the family wing which has just enough bedrooms for 
us and the children. We’ve made it home and had fun with the   decoration, as it’s not part of the formal state rooms – there’s   modern art and a lot of colour that’s not red!

We sometimes hear the visitors as the statue gallery sits above   our kitchen and when it’s busy we hear footsteps. I had never   been to Norfolk before I met my husband.

I am a Dorset girl and used to hills, but I’ve grown to love it   here and feel very lucky to live at Holkham. It comes with a   huge burden of responsibility and it’s a rather wonderful thing,   family after family living here, trying to do their best to pass it   on in a better state than they inherited it.

What's your favourite...?


The Victoria, because I can walk there and know all the staff,   many of whom have been with us since we opened. I feel like   I’m eating at home.


Gurneys in Burnham Market where I buy chorizo, which I use lots of in cooking. I also love good buffalo mozzarella and to buy things I can pretend I’ve made at home. The Thai fish cakes are delicious!


Monica Vinader. She’s my best friend and daughter’s godmother, and I have a lot of her jewellery. She’s an inspiration to all of us, because she started out so small and has become a global sensation. I call myself her greatest brand ambassador.


Not in Norfolk, but the Victoria & Albert Museum. It always has incredible exhibitions and I’m looking forward to the upcoming Chanel retrospective. My mother designed dresses for Princess Margaret, Princess Alexandra and Diana, Princess of Wales, so I grew up in a world of fashion and love every aspect of it.


Lesley-Anne Palmer at Wannabe Hair Salon in Fakenham.

...Nature spot?

My best times are when it gets really busy in the summer when I cycle down to the beach and along towards Meale House, which is our holiday home. I love walking through the woods, it’s just something else. There’s a path you can go down and you have to mark the spot where you exit, because it’s always hard to find. I can do it now, but it took me a long time. Then I wander down for a swim, walk around barefoot before cycling back home.

Christmas at Holkham -

On the last day of Christmas, we walk around thinking about what we can do next, and the pressure to be better every year is quite something. When I think back to the beginning, we bought all the decorations we thought we needed and they were used up in one room! It’s a big operation and we get inspiration throughout the year.

In January, Catherine and I go to Frankfurt for the Christmas trade fair and this year there was an amazing stall with wedding decorations. I saw a bauble which is a wedding ring and we thought we should do a sugar craft wedding look. We’re creating a room with Lady Glenconner’s and my own wedding dresses. We try to reuse things and love to see what we can create.

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