COTE DE TEXAS: Behind The Crown–Part Two

Behind The Crown–Part Two


In the last blog post - “The Crown - Part One”  – we examined the movie sets that were used to portray both Buckingham Plaza and Clarence House.   Today, in “The Crown - Part Two,” we will discuss Sandringham House, the Queen’s country house located in Norfolk.   Today, Sandringham is where the Royal Family spends Christmas.   The entire extended family gathers on Christmas Eve for dinner and then, the next day, they attend Church services on the estate. 

Since we are now celebrating the Christmas season – I thought this would be the perfect time to visit Sandringham !!!


Sandringham Estate.

Since the Elizabethan Era, there has always been a house of some sorts standing on the Sandringham land, and in 1771, a new, large, white manor known as Sandringham Hall was built there.   Later, Queen Victoria’s son, The Prince of Wales, aka King Edward VII, was searching for a country house for himself and his new bride, Princess Alexandra.    In 1862, his duchy purchased the white manor house for the newlyweds.   The Prince’s father, and Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert, had wanted his son to have his own estate to further the idea of the royals as being genteel landed Country Gentlemen.    The Sandringham Estate was chosen in part because the shooting was excellent and also because the Norfolk landscape reminded the young Princess Alexandra of her native Denmark.

The comparison between Norfolk and Scandinavia is not an accident.  Sandringham lies right off the North Sea on the area called Doggerland, which is where there once was a land bridge between England, and Scandinavia.  Since the lands were once linked, it is no wonder the area reminded Alexandra of her homeland. 

The royals Alexandra and Edward VII


As the young couple began having children, they quickly outgrew their new house.    To make room for a larger home, the old white house was demolished, save for its Conservatory, which was incorporated into the new house. 


The Garden Side:  Here is the original white manor house before it was torn down.  To the right of the house – you can plainly see its red brick conservatory.  The conservatory was NOT torn down, but instead was kept and turned into the billiards room for Edward VII.  This move was very important since the red brick Jacobean facade of the conservatory provided the design for the new Sandringham House.   Later – a new, one story wing was added to the right of the conservatory/billiards room to house a bowling alley!!

A photo of the original red brick conservatory which remained from the old white house. If the conservatory had not be save - Sandringham House would look completely different today.


A rare rendering of the newly built Sandringham House, showing the then one story wing to the right of the house which housed the billiards room and the bowling alley.  Later, after a fire, a second story was added onto this wing, creating what the house looks like today.   This is the only photo I could find of the complete house with its original one story wing!!  And I tried…trust me!!!


  A side view of the new billiards room and the new one story wing that housed the bowling alley. 


Queen Alexandra took this photo of her grandchildren at Sandringham House from the Garden Side – with awnings at the windows!  Those beautiful trees must have died over the years.  Today – the lawn on the garden side is bare of trees.


And today – from the Garden Side.  The main section is on the left. In the center is the original conservatory and to the right is the wing that King Edward VII added to house the bowling alley.  On top of that one story wing – after the fire - he later added the second story, along with 18 bedrooms.  The second story was forever known as the “Bachelor Wing.”

The Front Side:   1870 - The view of the original house from the Front Side.  The entrance to the house is under the porte cochere.  To the far left is the back side of the original conservatory turned billiards room.  Later, Edward VII added a new ballroom and clock tower wing – that had it’s own entrance on the Front Side.  What is interesting is that the stone arched entrance seen here at the very left side is no longer there – it was incorporated into the ballroom wing when it was added.   This is a very rare view of Sandringham  House without the ballroom wing – again, the only one I could find!!   

And today.  The ballroom wing is at the far left.  After Edward VII added the two wings and the 18 bedrooms to the second floor, major alterations at Sandringham stopped.  Until Queen Elizabeth, that is.  She had 90 rooms demolished from the over 350 rooms palace! 


An aerial view of the Front Side clearly shows the ballroom wing that was added to the courtyard.    Notice the backside of the long wing on the garden side – it looks very plain, even unfinished in this view!!  This is the area that was damaged in the fire and 18 bedrooms were added on top of the wing. 

Another aerial view of the house from the Front Side with the Ballroom.  To the left is where the museum is now housed.  You can also see one of the lakes in this view.

  Another view of the entrance court – with the ballroom at the front center in the middle of the long facade. A larger view of the rather plain facade on the left wing.  In the 1970s, Queen Elizabeth had 90 service rooms on the south side torn down to make the estate more efficient.  Is it possible that these rooms were a part of this area and that is why it looks so forlorn?   In the bottom very left corner –the tiny white round building is the original Victorian game larder.  Sandringham was said to have the largest (or second largest) game larder in existence.

Close up stylized view of the entrance court with the Porte Cochere.  Across is the Ballroom Entrance in the Clock Tower.

The Garden Side:   Notice the beautiful brick work on the bowling alley wing.


A side view of the original Conservatory from the white manor house – with its three brick arches.  This entrance – on an angle – was a later addition which leads to both the dining room at the left and the billiard room at the right of the door.

The north side of the original wing.  The Jacobean architecture on this section is quite attractive.   King Edward VII’s suite of offices opened up to this side of the house.   These extensive gardens were a much later addition.


The most picturesque view of Sandringham House is taken from across its pond.

The first royals to live at Sandringham House:  Seated, Mary, Duchess of York, with Prince Edward of York (later Duke of Windsor), Queen Alexandra (with Prince Henry, later Duke of Gloucester) and King Edward VII. The Duke of York, later King George V, is standing behind his mother and wife.

When Sandringham House was built by Edward VII, all the modern amenities of the day were used, including gas lights, flushing toilets, and a shower!  After he saw an American styled bowling alley at another grand house, Edward promptly had one built at his own house.  Years later, he had the two lanes removed in order to create a large library – something he had also seen at another house.  Apparently its shelves were filled with pretty, but worthless books that had to be discarded later in order to make room for more appropriate books.  Alexandra was unhappy about the loss of the bowling alleys, which she had enjoyed.

    Today, the Sandringham Estate is located on over 20,000 acres and it is one of just two private homes owned by the Royal Family.  When the Duke of Windsor abdicated the throne, he had to sell his personal ownership of Sandringham House to the new king, his brother Bertie.  Balmoral, the Scottish estate, is the other private estate of the royals.

While Sandringham House is large with over 300 rooms – most are said to be relatively small, especially the bedrooms.   Sandringham has the reputation of being a very comfortable family home.   Previous generations of royals used the estate much more than it is used today, when the Queen visits only during the deepest winter months.    

While the Queen stays ensconced at Sandringham from Christmas Eve until February – the holiday decorations are kept up until after she leaves.  The Queen also marks the anniversary of her father’s death at Sandringham – where he indeed, did die in February of 1952.   Bertie was also born on the estate at York House, along with all of his siblings.   John, his tragic brother, also died there, too. 

Many other royal have either been born or died at Sandringham including Queen Alexandra and her two sons Albert Victor and King George V, who all passed away there.   King Olav V of Norway (a grandson of King Edward VII) was born on the estate in 1903.  And famously, Diana, Princess of Wales was born on Sandringham – at Park House - where she grew up before her father moved to Althorp when he inherited his title.  Today, Park House has been turned into a hotel for disabled guests by Queen Elizabeth.   William and Kate live at Anmer Hall which is also on the estate, although a few miles away.  Previously, Anmer Hall was the country home of the Duke of Kent.

Sandringham Estate is historically most famous for its excellent shooting and over the generations, scores and scores of royal shooting parties have been hosted there.  The shoots were legendary – during Edward VII time, over 14,000 birds were recorded shot during season.  Rabbits were another popular target.  Nothing was wasted and birds and rabbits that were not used at Sandringham or by its guests were delivered to the hospitals and other charities.   The excesses of Sandringham’s shoots are today reviled by the public.

Along with hunting, Edward was a very talented horse breeder.  He established the Royal Stud at Sandringham which produced two legendary racehorses, one which won the Triple Crown in 1900.  The Queen is very active in Sandringham’s Royal Stud.  A new sculpture of her legendary horse, Estimate, was just unveiled in the front courtyard.


Besides sports, Sandringham’s gardens and lakes are also popular attractions and through the years, the estate land has been well cared for.  Since the 1950s, over 2 million trees have been planted on the estate.  King George V even planted an apple orchard there and today, its apples are prized, and the juices are quite profitable.  

After King Edward VII died in 1910 his wife Alexandra continued to live at Sandringham House until her death in 1925.  The then King George V and his wife Mary stayed at York Cottage all those years until his mother’s death.  Normally the non-ruling spouse moves out of the royal house immediately – but since Sandringham is privately owned, the King had left the house in his will to his wife. Today, the sovereign wills the house to his heir instead. 

Recently, it was reported that Prince Philip was gradually relinquishing control of Sandringham estate to Prince Charles.  I do wonder what will eventually happen to all their houses.  When Queen Victoria died, her heir Edward VII gave her country house Osborne House to the government.  He loved Sandringham and did not want to give it up for Osborne House.  Today, Prince Charles loves his own county house, Highgrove, so much and has put his entire soul into its gardens, that I can’t imagine he will sell it and move to Sandringham or Windsor when he becomes monarch.  And then there is the heir-apparent Prince William.  He just spent a small fortune (actually a large fortune) renovating Anmer Hall – it’s difficult to imagine he will just sell it and move on to Highgrove.  I’m sure the royals have a plan for all their real estate – they just haven’t told us yet!!!!

I found an unfinished floorplan of Sandringham and added the room labels.  Some of the labels may not be absolutely accurate.  I tried!  

Sandringham House - The Interior:


When you enter Sandringham at the courtyard  – you first walk into the Entrance Hall that is attached to the Saloon, above.    The Saloon has two sections:   the single height Entrance Hall and the double Height Saloon section.   This room once doubled as a ballroom – until the wing with the new ballroom was built.   The Saloon here looks like a hunting lodge, which Sandringham really is.   The gas lights and the large mantel are no longer in the present Saloon.

BEFORE:  A closer view of the tall, former mantel in the Saloon. 


You enter the rest of Sandringham’s rooms through this doorway in the Saloon.  All the rooms flow off a series of halls, one of which is seen here.   Across this hall you can see into the White Drawing Room.    I love the books piled up on the side table – it looks like this really was truly once a family home.  Notice the two settees that flank the doorway, along with the statues.


I love this!  Queen Alexandra serves high-tea in the Saloon.  She said she was so happy when the ballroom was built so that the furniture in the Saloon didn’t have to be moved away anymore.


Looking at the opposite direction in the early Saloon – at the series of columns and arches that separate the Saloon from the Entrance Hall.   In this view, you can see the second fireplace in the Entrance.   I love that desk!!!      The front door opens directly to this Entrance Hall behind the columns. 


Today – the Saloon looks quite different than it once did.  When George V and Mary moved in, they got rid of much of Queen Alexandra’s Victorian excesses.   Later, when Bertie and the Queen Mother arrived – they simplified the great hall – painting all the dark molding on the ceiling a soft cream.  A new smaller mantel was installed and the doors flanking the fireplace were hidden away behind jib doors.  Above, a gorgeous tapestry was added that still hangs today, along with two others on the right wall.   Also – the darker wood floor – either was bleached, or it was replaced with stone.  Notice the desk that I like is still there today – on the left side of the Saloon.   In the foreground, the round marquetry table with the Prince of Wales feathers is quite beautiful.



Today.  A rare view taken in the hallway, from the side door in the Saloon, looking towards the fireplace.


Today:   Looking from the large area of the Saloon back towards the Entrance Hall through the wood arches.  Two dark Oriental screens flank the arches and probably help divert the winds.


An antique French bench sits in front of the Saloon’s fireplace – this has been a popular place for photoshoots over the years.

Well, well, well!  It’s true!  The Queen DOES loves to watch TV.  Just like in The Crown – the Queen is said to love to watch certain shows on TV.  Here, two of her corgis keep her company, along with  her younger boys, Prince Andrew and Edward.  Can you see the jib door behind the Queen?


A more recent photoshoot of the Queen and the Prince in front of the fireplace.

Another view with the Queen’s dog showing off for the camera!!   Too cute!!

Today:  A new photo of the Entrance Hall.   While the Saloon is double height, the Entrance Hall has a regular height ceiling.  The previously mentioned marquetry table is on the left, as are the two oriental screens which divide the entrance from the Saloon.   In the middle is a seat scale – Edward VII would weigh guests when they came and departed – to be sure they gained weight from the good food!!!!   Notice the two garden seats flanking the door.   I love the decor here.   OK.  I’ll say it.  I would love to decorate a royal home!!!   Especially this one!!!


Today.   The grand staircase off the main corridor is decorated with a series of horse paintings.

BEFORE:  The doors in the Saloon lead to the main corridor which runs from the North Entrance.  Here, it was once filled with trophies – these are now located in the museum housed in the former carriage house behind the main house.


Today.   To the left is the Saloon, with the curtains at the doorway.  The corridor with the red carpet leads to the ballroom wing  (I think!.)  The hall is lined with a small part of the Royals huge collection of antique weapons.

Before:  Directly across the main hall from the Saloon is the series of drawing rooms.   Here, is the large White Drawing Room which is divided into two areas.  Originally, King Edward VII had this curtain installed between the larger and smaller areas to give the illusion the drawing room was actually two rooms.   Queen Mary promptly had the drape removed once she moved in.   The portrait of Queen Alexandra is still above the same mantel today.   To the right of the fireplace – is a large bay window, where the piano is located today.


Today – a bad photo of the White Drawing Room – showing the smaller space with the Queen’s painting.  When Princess Charlotte was christened at Sandringham this year – the family took their photograph in front of Alexandra’s portrait.

Today:  A close up of the small side of the White Drawing Room with its pretty French styled furniture.   Connecting to this room through those doors – is the dining room.


Princess Charlotte’s christening – taken in the White Drawing Room.  Notice that the photographer photoshopped the sconces out!!!

Today:   The bay window to the right of the fireplace with the Queen’s portrait.   Years before – the families would linger out this door to the awning-covered terrace that runs along the west side of the house.  Today – since the house is used only in the depths of winter, no lingering is spent outside!!!!

Before:   The Garden Terrace on the West side – outside the White Drawing Room where awnings provided a place for the Queen to serve tea to visitors. 


Before:   The other side, the larger area, of the white drawing room.  I love the divan at the right of the fireplace!


Today.  The White Drawing Room, looking from the smaller space to the larger area.  The second fireplace has a mirror over its mantel and is flanked by two French doors that are mirrored.  Through the left door is a second, small drawing room.  And past the curtain on the left is a second large bay window.   The feminine White Drawing Room with its French furniture is considered the prettiest room in the house.

Here the Royals met with the Prime Minister from New Zealand in the bay window area of the larger side of the White Drawing Room.  Outside the windows is the terrace that overlooks the extensive gardens.


Today:  Another view of the larger side of the white drawing room.  Through the open French door is the what is called the Small Drawing Room:


Before:   The Small Drawing Room, with its collection of Dresden china and the Dresden chandelier – all gifts from Wilhelm II.  Through the door is the White Drawing Room.


Before:  The back view of the Small Drawing Room – with the settee and short bookcases that wrap around the walls.


Today:  The Small Drawing Room in aqua and cream.  You can see much is the same as it was under Edward VII – the mirror, the bookshelf on the left, and the glass shelves flanking the fireplace.  There is new wallpaper and fabrics though.  Through the open door is the larger White Drawing Room.

Another view of the Small Drawing Room.


A screencap from the Queen’s Christmas Message taken in the Small Drawing Room.  Here, you can see the two windows that overlook the western terrace with it garden view.  From this view, you can really tell how vast the lawn is.


Another screencap – here you can see the detail in the curtains along with a look into the White Drawing Room.

The Queen’s annual Christmas message is aired on Christmas Day.  The family watches the message together at Sandringham when they return from Church.  The Queen is said to watch it alone, in another room.


BEFORE:   The dining room – was originally painted dark with a set of murals given to Edward VII by King Alfonso XII of Spain – a nephew by marriage.  Apparently – when first given, the murals were very bright.  Over the years they have faded, but for a while, critics said they weren’t fading fast enough!!!


TODAY:  Besides remodeling the Saloon, Bertie and Elizabeth decorated the dining room, painting it light green, a color Elizabeth had seen at Braemar Castle near Balmoral.  Through the double door is the White Drawing Room – the door is next to Alexandra’s portrait.

Today:  Another view of the opposite direction.  The door by the fireplace opens onto the corridor that leads to the billiards room and the ballroom wing.

TODAY:   This unique room was decorated in the Turkish fashion.  Notice how similar the fireplace looks to those in the Topkapi Palace.  This room, decorated by Carl Haag, has remained exactly the same through the decades.


BEFORE:  The King’s Morning Room – where he had breakfast each day.  Of all the Victorian decor,  I love the way this room looks!!   I couldn’t find a photo of what it looks like today, though.


BEFORE:  The ballroom corridor.   The long halls that lead from the house to the ballroom wing – here is how it was decorated.


Today:  The ballroom corridor lined with books and bronzes.

Today:  Another section of corridor leading to the ballroom – is lined with gun cabinets.  Seeing all the guns reminds you that Sandringham was once a very important hunting spot.  Today, the Royal Family is much more concerned with visuals and are rarely seen shooting although Prince Charles was seen recently with a gun, something that he has not been photographed doing for years and years.

At the end of the bowling/library wing is a room where all the guns were kept.  Not sure if they are still kept there today.

Before:  The new ballroom has large windows at both ends with a fireplace in the middle. Weapons from an Asian tour line the leather covered walls.  Today, the windows at this end of the room are covered up for some reason.  Maybe the view at the back of the house is not appealing?


BEFORE:  An early view with a white tiger skin hanging from the mistral’s gallery.


BEFORE:  Another early photo.  That tiger skin!   Something you would never see today!!


BEFORE:   A rare photo of Christmas!  The family places long tables with ribbons dividing the table top into areas for each member of the family where their presents are placed.  Diana’s first Christmas was a disaster when she presented everyone with pricey gifts.  The family gives gag gifts and homemade ones only.    Once Prince Harry gave his grandmother, the Queen, a shower cap that read “Ain’t Life A Bitch.”   Princess Anne once gave her brother Charles a white leather toilet seat – that he still uses!   And Kate gave Harry a – ‘Grow Your Own Girlfriend’ kit.  Apparently, the funnier the gift, the better.


TODAY:  Birds eye view of the ballroom, which is the largest room in the mansion.   Bertie and Elizabeth remodeled the ballroom, removing the leather on the walls and replacing it with wallpaper.   Her mother-in-law Queen Mary brought the crystal chandeliers over from Buckingham Palace.

TODAY:  The ballroom also doubles as a movie theatre.


BEFORE:   The billiard room – this was the room created out of the original conservatory in the former house.  It is said to be one of the brightest rooms in the house.  Again, no current photo of this room. 


BEFORE:   This photo shows the light fixture with shades, which looks so much better.

BEFORE:  King Edward VII had seen an American style bowling alley and wanted one of his own. He built the long single story wing past the billiards room to house the alleys.   Here, you can see it was actually two lanes!!!   The left wall was painted with murals, the right wall had windows that looked out onto the garden side of the house.  Very pretty curtains!


Later, the King saw a library that he wanted, so books were brought in – you can see them at the left.  Eventually – the bowling lanes were removed, much to Alexandra’s dismay!! 

TODAY:  The long library.  When it was first furnished with the books, they were bought for their pretty bindings – but the books were of such poor quality, they had to all be replaced.  Look in the back left corner of the room – that is a false door that looks like part of the bookcase.  That faux door actually fits in the recess and a proper door is hiding behind it!

The library was said to be very important to the family, Edward VII especially, and they would all gather together in here to use it.  Somehow I doubt that is something the Royals do today.  The room looks like it is never used much at all.  Sad to think of all the old happy days.


A screencap from a documentary shows the library.  In the back left corner, the regular door is seen here. This may be the door to the gun room at the end of this wing.


The young Queen in the library about to record one of her Christmas Messages.


Before:  The Business Office with its corner fireplace and a skirted table!!!   Through the door is the Saloon – where the jib door flanking the fireplace is today.

George V in the Business Office – delivering the first radio Christmas Message in 1932.  This became a tradition that lasted for decades.  Today – the message is televised.


The Queen gives her first Christmas message from the Business Office.  That tufted chair looks like the ones from the original Small Drawing Room.

Today:  a screencap from the documentary.  That door leads right to the Saloon.  Through the window is the front courtyard of Sandringham.

Since this was the Business Office, it was noted to be rather plain.


Before:  To the right of the front Entrance Hall is a trio of the King’s private rooms, including this library.  The Equerries room is seen through the door.   This was his main library before the one in the bowling alley was built.



And the Equerries room.  One room was said to be in blue and the other was decorated in red.

Upstairs – the Queen in her private office.

A larger view of her office/private drawing room.

The Sandringham Estate was its own private country.   There was a dairy that churned butter and milk, a hospital for sick Royals, a stud farm where race horses were bred, a large kennel for all the hunting dogs, a school, and much much more. Surrounding the big house were a series of small and smaller houses for relatives and employees.   Everything that was needed to sustain life on the estate was once found there.

There is even a church.  The church at Sandringham dates to the 16th century and was restored both in 1855 and in 1890.  Queen Alexandra didn’t believe you should ride in the carriage on the Sabbath, so the royals walked to church, a tradition that some still follow today.


The church at Sandringham. 


While the outside is charming, the inside is beautiful – and probably very awe inspiring, as is expected from the Royals.


Walking to Princess Charlotte’s christening, the most beautiful family ever?


And a recent Christmas, the royals walking to church.   The Queen no longer walks – she is driven in her car. 


In 1848, this print of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria with their Christmas tree was shown in a magazine.  Since the Prince was German, the Christmas tree was a more familiar tradition on his side of the family.   This very picture is said to be what inspired the world to get their own Christmas tree!   The Queen made this claim, that her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, started the Christmas Tree tradition.  Now, I don’t know that this is true, but I would love to believe it!  It is such a charming tale AND tree!!! 


Sandringham was built by King Edward VII and his Queen lived there for many years after this death.  Their children grew up at Sandringham and it was a much loved country house.  But, in reality – it was his son, George V who grew to love the estate even more and be more associated with it.  Sandringham was a huge presence in George V’s family life.  His children were all born at York Cottage, where they had lived until Queen Alexandra passed and since George V died in 1936 – he was only able to in the big house for approximately 11 years.  He is famous for this quote “Dear old Sandringham, the place I love better than anywhere else in the world.”


His son, George VI, or Bertie as he was known, lived at Sandringham from 1936 – until his death at 1952.    Bertie was born and died at Sandringham, and it was a very important part of his life.  He wrote “I have always been happy here and I love the place.”

The Crown filmed many important scenes at “Sandringham” – but unfortunately, the Royals would not allow the production to actually film there.  The hunt for a manor to stand in Sandringham produced this: 


Englefield House, is located in Berkshire.   The land had been in the Englefield family since the time of King Edgar in the 900s.   Originally built in 1558, the house on the estate was razed and rebuilt in 1820.  It is now held by the Beynon Family. Like Sandringham Estate, Englefield occupies over 20,000 acres.  It’s a popular house for films and The King’s Speech used it too.  While Sandringham is on the flat land just a few miles from the North Sea, Englefield’s terrain is a hour from London, and is a bit more hilly.  Still, Englefield is definitely grand enough to stand in for Sandringham.

Like Sandringham, the estate has its own church – which in The Crown, the family drives by while the citizens wave to greet them – just exactly how it is done at Sandringham!!!

The church at Englefield.  It looks very much like Sandringham’s church, down to the gate.


The Crown:  Here the family arrives at Sandringham for Christmas.  The crowds are waiting – just as it is in real life.  It’s actually hard to see this as fake – it looks so much like Sandringham.

Englefield – here in this view, the mansion reminds me of Sandringham so much with its gravel courtyard and stone porte-cochere. 


Englefield:  There is a two story entrance, like at Sandringham.  It doesn’t look too pretty in these AWFUL pictures, but it really looks gorgeous in The Crown.

Englefield:  The main hall on the first floor off the entrance.   The stairs are to the right.  These photos are just terrible, unfortunately.

The Crown:   Princess Margaret steals a kiss from her lover.  That art work is a bit spooky.     I love the fireplace!  The crew used all the furniture here from Englefield – just changing out the center table.


The Crown:   Another view of this scene. 


The Crown:   The entrance connects with the front hall with the statues and wonderful cases on stands.  It looks like the crew changed out the mirrors, for some reason?    And they changed the rug, which was very much needed.


The Crown:   Several important scenes take place in the front hall.


The Crown:   Her grandmother, Queen Mary, curtsies to Queen Elizabeth for the first time.   This scene is so powerful!!!


Englefield:  The red dining room.


The Crown:  The red dining room was turned into the King’s bedroom!!!   They put the bed in front of the fireplace – and removed all the furniture, but they did keep the art work and the curtains!!!


The Crown:   A larger view of the dining room turned into the bedroom.  The canopy bed was brought in to replace the dining table.

Sandringham:   In real life, the Royals are treated to tunes by a brass band on Christmas Eve at Sandringham!  You can see the Royals in the doorway listening to the band.


The Crown:  Art Imitates Life – here the royals are serenaded on Christmas Eve.   Englefield looks so much like Sandringham in this scene!!!


The Crown:   The hall is decorated for Christmas as the carolers are led into the library.


Englefield:   Their library has been filmed for scores of movies because it is beautiful.  The rug, the piano, the tables, the screen, and the BOOKS are all gorgeous!!!  Shown here is an incredible desk.  In other photos of the Englefield, the desk is actually in the stairhall.   For The Crown, this beautiful desk is moved to the King’s study to star in other scenes.


The Crown:  For Christmas, the King gets a paper crown.  These scenes with the dying King are some of the most emotional and well acted of the entire series.   I hope Jared Harris wins a Bafta and/or Emmy for his acting!  He is incredible in The Crown.

The Crown:  Another view of Christmas Eve with the carolers. 

The Crown:  Later the King and Margaret sing a duet – which is a tear jerker!!   Look at the molding over the door!!!  Margaret’s dress in this scene was beautiful.


The Crown:  And here the King turns around and sings to the family.  Remember, the King had a terrible speech impediment.  For him to sing in front of his family was very difficult for him, on top of the fact that he felt so poorly from his lung cancer.


Englefield:  And, here is the drawing room – in peach and red?!  

Englefield:  Another view of the drawing room.   It’s a very pretty room, especially in the daytime. 

The Crown:  Instead of a drawing room, this becomes the King’s office.  Here a young Princess Elizabeth sneaks into her father’s domain and tries it out for size. The production crew removed most of the upholstered furniture – which was all replaced for the movie.  The crystal chandelier, the rug, and the large mirror remained.


The Crown:  Here, with the red curtains open, you can see how pretty the room can look!

The Crown:  In another scene, a father-daughter talk, except here, the King knows he is dying and his daughter will be Queen when he goes.  He is trying to get her ready.  In reality, she was ready and has proven to be a highly effective and much loved monarch.  Her only misstep happened after Princess Diana died.


The Crown:   The desk is so beautiful.  This desk was seen in both the library and the stairhall location photos of Englefield.   This is a screencap, yet it looks so beautiful!!  Like a painting, almost.   The view outside is of the rolling landscape – very very different from the real flat land of Sandringham.   From the outside, Englefield looks HUGE – and I’m sure it is but in the location photos, it looks much smaller. 

Englefield:   The second floor overlooks the double height entry hall – which allows for staff to spy on Princess Margaret.


Englefield:  The second floor as it truly is.  Nothing was changed here during the filming of several very important scenes.


The Crown:  Here on the second floor, Queen Elizabeth is greeted by her family for the first time as Queen. I love the way this hall is decorated with large, antique chests and garden seats.


The Crown:  And since this IS Sandringham after all – several shooting scenes were filmed.   Here the King takes Prince Philip shooting.


The Crown:   And here, the movie’s stud farm at Sandringham.  There are several scenes at the stud farm with Porchey and the Queen.  I tried for DAYS!!  DAYS!! to find where The Crown filmed the stud farm.  I just couldn’t find the location. I’m so sorry!!!   I had to finally give it up so I could finish the story.  I will say, it’s a beautiful stable, wherever it is!!

The Crown:   The Queen and Porchey welcome their champion horse back home.


Here’s a photo of Porchey, Lord Porchester.  He is so much better looking than the actor that plays him!  Wow!  Isn’t he handsome!! 

And another photo where Porchey is older.  The actor who plays him is short and a bit heavy, not tall and trim like Porchey was.  There were rumors about the Queen and Porchey – even some saying that Porchey was Prince Andrew’s father.  It reminds me of people who claimed Prince Harry was actually the son of Diana’s lover, not Prince Charles.  I don’t believe that the Queen was EVER unfaithful!!!   But, the rumors were out there, unfortunately.


Most interesting is Porchey grew up here, at Highclere, his family seat.  Look familiar?  Yes, it’s the fictional Downton Abbey. It is said that the Queen loved to watch Downton Abbey because she had spent so much time at Highclere and knew the real “stories” about it.  Porchey had a fascinating history.  His grandfather was a mean, abusive man, as was his grandmother, Lady Almina – an illegitimate Rothschild heir.  His grandfather discovered the tomb of King Tut and died just a few months later – from an insect bite, but it was said he fell victim to the King Tut curse.  If you like history – it’s an interesting google search.

I had no idea that when I started to write this story about The Crown’s Sandringham set, that I would learn something about King Tut!

More to come….

And since we are Jewish and our Christmas season is always rather quiet, I may continue to write throughout.  But in case I don’t – I want to say today: 

Here’s to all of you, in this season of reflection, reverence, and celebration -

A wish for you all - a very, very Merry Christmas!!!  

Beautiful blue & white tree by Eleven Gables HERE – visit for a Bloggers Christmas Home Tour!


  1. Love this!

    I visit Sandringham most summers & it still looks very similar to the pictures. You are not allowed to take photos inside the house but it is amazing to look around.

    The rugs and floors are mostly covered in custom cut dull brown cloth to protect them and the Queen's personal staff act as guides! On the shelves in the living room are strange things like plastic ducks and joke gifts from her family. If you ask the staff where things like the Christmas tree are usually placed they happily tell you. If you ask them if you've met the Queen they say 'oh yes!' But when you ask what they have spoken with her about they said 'I'm sorry, it's private. I couldn't possibly'

    The museum has had an overhaul in recent times and all the big game (stuffed & mounted) has been removed from display. It's not considered PC any longer.

    The church is pretty and contains the royal gilded lily font where all royal babies were christened. Outside is the old giant stone font that you can climb in!

    The gardens are magnificent and you can happily spend a day there.

    1. wow!! how lucky you are!!!! so they cover everything?? I'm surprised that they still do the tours with everything covered. all the joke gifts! I think that they have very strong sense of humors. Charles was very good friends with Joan Rivers if you can believe that and she visited them many times. oh to be a fly on the wall!!

  2. I wait so eagerly for your blogs - both beautiful and educational. So much work for you but most appreciated. Never change your format. Best wishes for 2017. Deidre from Sydney Australia.

    1. Thank you so much!!!!! I struggle with should I just do the short,one page, one picture blogs. I just enjoy it sooooo much.

  3. Thank you Joni for a wonderful year of blogging. May you and your family have a wonderful holiday season.

  4. given that this object is produced easy to apply, you make investments more time appearing your exercise workouts than solving the changes, in that manner you likely can concentrate lots more on what you is probably doing and see some distance higher results right away.

  5. Your posts do take a long time to load on my computer here in the middle of nowhere. But it is SO worth the wait. I learn something--many things--every time. Your research is impressive. Your posts are a joy to linger over and savor.

  6. Thank you for your hard work on the best blog posts ever.

  7. You are a part of my daily routine, must check your blog as I sip my coffee before heading off to work…Thank you for sharing your eye for design and all that you do. I applaud you for your ability to thoroughly research your subjects, and your beautifully written posts. Wishing you and your family a happy holiday season. May 2017 be a good year for us all!

  8. Joni ~ I've been a long time reader and always enjoyed your wonderfully researched posts. I wish you and your family a happy holidays!

  9. The scale is a Jockey scale that was used to weigh the jockeys for horse races.

  10. You amaze Joni. The absolute best posts in the design blogosphere. I too wish you could remodel a royal residence. (But would you be tempted to Frenchify it? He He) Happy Hanukkah and so glad Merry Christmas does not offend. Aunt Jean

  11. I also agree, never change your style. I love all the detail you put into each post. I admire you for all the hard work that I know goes into each one. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  12. I generally adore your commentary, BUT the architecture of Sandringham vs the stand-in house are very distinctly different. From two very different eras of English history. Sandringham's facade is very distinctly late Jacobean ( William 2 + Mary 2's reign) whilst the stand-in house is very distinctly Elizabethan. A good example of an Elizabethan house to compare with is Hardwick Hall. A house built by Bess of Hardwick who incidentally also built Chatsworth and made the fortune that is enjoyed by the Dukes of Devonshire.

    I couldn't enjoy The Crown for this and many other inaccuracies that are very jarring though i appreciate that they tried to be as accurate to the period if not the actual places and events.

    Also, The Queen has made lots of mistakes of which Diana was nearly the most catastrophic. She is so beloved at the moment that people have forgotten her other mistakes and only remember the Diana one. The 90s, particularly 1992, were a bad decade and the reason her grandchildren Louise and James can't use their legal styles of HRH/Prince(es) per George V's letters patent that grants that style/title to children/grandchildren of the monarch. She gave a famous speech in 1992 in which she called the year her annus horribillis for all the bad things and mistakes that happened that year. The decade was to bring more mistakes including the Diana one.

    I didn't mean to go off on a rant because i really enjoyed your walk through Sandrigham and your attention to detail.

    This blog is both educational and wonderfully inspiring.

    I wish you a very merry christmas and a happy new year.

    A Historianxoxo

  13. HI!! Thanks for your great comment! You are right about the architecture. They don't look alike in that regard - at all, but I do think the church and the approach is very similar, and the entrance, with the gravel court and the porte cochere was alike - very much so. BUT, no, the houses are different. Honestly, I was let down by the interior of Englefield. The drawing room wasn't symmetrical - and it looked rather strange. I try to be more positive when writing the commentary because if I'm not, people get annoyed. For instance, I was saying last time that the rooms needed updating and someone got mad and said I didn't appreciate the charm, etc. BUT old and dirty are too different things!! Actually - the annus horribilis speech was given the year that I screencapped Sandringham from. NOt sure what you mean about Louise and James? The whole Diana episode was pathetic and there is NO doubt that they used her for her specs and then discarded when she wouldn't play along nicely. What they did to her is unspeakable...yet...I do think she had severe issues herself. The whole issue is Charles should have married Camilla to begin with but she ran off and got married. What a mess.

    Thanks again!

    1. I think they put much more effort into the costumes and jewels than they did production design. Have you watched Victoria starring Jenna Coleman and Rufus Sewell? That miniseries does a fantastic job in terms of accurate or near accurate production design. Amazingly, it was mostly shot on a soundstage, so i guess they could recreate accurate settings vs The Crown's choice to look for already existing houses to stand-in for the production design required.

      Regarding Louise and James, as a direct result of the Queen's bad decade, they are not known by their proper styles and title. Instead they are known by the lesser titles of an earl, nevermind that they are legally HRH Prince and Princess. This was part of a plan to repair the damage of the 90s to make the family more accessible. Same decision governed Camilla's use of the Doc title rather than POW title.

    2. No - I haven't watched that! But I'll look for it - I'm lucky that Ben also enjoys historical shows. Well - Camilla can't be POW can she? That whole thing is crazy. I never felt they should have married. Abt the titles - I always wondered why Anne refused titles for her own?

    3. Camilla is POW, but she goes by Charles's 2nd title of Cornwall. That decision was made to mollify the rabid Diana fans still angry at Charles and the monarchy in general. I wonder how they would react if they realised that DoC was also Diana's title.

      Per the rules of aristocracy, and in general, new wife acquires ALL the titles of the title holder whilst ex-wife loses them.

      The reason Sarah Ferguson remains duchess of york is because Andrew has not remarried.

      Anne's refusal is twofold. No one is forced to accept a title. A title may be offered, you are free to accept or refuse it.

      Secondly, titles can only be granted to males. With rare exceptions females - meteorite level rare. Anne's husband refused titles therefore their children couldn't be titled. Titles are granted and passed along on the male side only.

      Fun fact: the Queen's father had to write a special order to grant her children titles and the style HRH Princ(es) because as a female she couldn't pass on that style to them. The fact that she was heiress and future Queen did not and does not change this rule. If her father had not made this special order, her children would have been known as the children of a duke ie Lord Charles of Edinburgh, Lady Anne of Edinburgh, Lord Andrew of Edinburgh and Lord Edward of Edinburgh. The inheritance rule for gender supersedes the rule about who can be a prince and have the HRH style.

      A Historian

      Ps: apologising for digressing on your wonderful blog.

  14. Thanks everyone for your comments!!! Enjoying reading them! A jockey scale!!!! I had no idea!!!!

  15. Wonderful post as always, Joni! Absolutely fabulous!

  16. Haven't seen this series - but your posts on it are very interesting. It may not have been so difficult for George VI to sing for his family. Have you seen the award winning movie "The King's Speech"? Seem to remember the King's speech therapist discovered he didn't stutter when he sang. He was able to sing effortlessly so perhaps he actually enjoyed singing for his family.
    The Queen looks to be so very happy with Porchey. There were many rumours at the time - for years. It wouldn't be surprising if it had been more than friendship as Prince Philip was a notorious womaniser for years. The Queen just seems to have taken this in her stride and got on with life, probably one of the reasons she expected Diana to do the same. Of course the English media of those days, out of respect for the Queen, did not report on his infidelities, even though they were known in limited circles in the UK. However, they were overed by the Continental press at times.

  17. Happy Hanukkah to you, Ben and Elizabeth. I have been a huge fan and faithful reader since the beginning and have always said that Cote de Texas was my favorite blog. I love the way that you go in depth and find photos and details that aren't covered anywhere else. All of your work is SO appreciated. I dote on the minutiae that you provide since my mind works the same way that yours does but I don't have your resources or energy to unearth the info that you do. THANK YOU!!!!

  18. I echo everyone else; thanks for another year of fabulous blogging! Please don't be tempted to go to a more typical format! I really love what you delve into, and anything on the Royals is fascinating to me. Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah to you and yours.

  19. This all is accurate. Diana, although we all adored her, was a very unstable woman. Elizabeth.....endured. And now here they are in their nineties..... The press did not expose Philip.( KInd of like JFK.....or more than "kind of" "same". It was astonishing the protection the press used to give)
    It all worked out for her....(.I think those corgis helped comfort her for her whole breaks my heart she isn't having any more.....she MUST!!!! My favorite pictures of her are when she was a little girl with her dogs....and they have helped her through everything in her life.....honestly.....dogs can do miracles......) Are they in this series? My favorite pictures were the ones with the dogs in your great post!
    I love them in your pictures, Joni....they are so important in her life! HUGE!!!!

    What a great sense your pictures give is the progression of life! Those buildings....with centuries old pictures, drawings, paintings of the same people....and then their descendants in the same rooms with the same paintings....two hundred years later! Fascinating! And beautifully done....Bravo Joni again!!! What a gift you are!!!

    1. It's not that she doesn't have dogs - I think she has four now. BUT, she realizes how old she is and she isn't breeding anymore. she doesn't want to leave a lot of dogs when she passes. You HAVE to read that Vanity Fair story about her dogs!!! It's wonderful!!!! the link is in the blog story.

  20. I have to say that Cote de Texas was the very first blog I found. I think the second one was Velvet and Linen.

    Still my two favorite blogs......Bravo!! What a wonderful ride it is!!! Onward!!!

  21. I'm just...dumbstruck...this was SO ENTERTAINING, BEAUTIFULLY NARRATED AND could charge for this course...franki

  22. Another totally fabulous, wonderfully detailed, meticulously researched, excellent post, Joni! Please continue as you have, they are so wonderful, and very much appreciated in their thoroughness! I love reading anything related to the Royal Family, and your posts are a real asset and addition to the published books for sale.

    Happy Holidays:)

  23. Nothing short of SPECTACULAR! Loved every single word and photo! Thank you for your painstaking attention to every last detail! A very blessed holiday season to you and yours!

  24. I really enjoy the unique flavor of this blog and especially the plethora of pictures which I love. There is always something to learn about the people and history we are interested in. I marvel at how you manage to load so much onto your website and admire your tenacity in researching what you write about. I have a passion for history and especially enjoyed that aspect of your post today. We were just in England this past July to Cambridge and Duxford for the wonderful air show and visited the Imperial War Museum. We went to the flower show at Hampton Court and thoroughly enjoyed touring the grounds and apartments of Henry the VIII. Thanks for taking me back to England for a few minutes today.

  25. Joni has the best blog on the web for interior design; (in my opinion) on the web. I have been saying for years that she also has be best commenters!! (we will leave out the trolls and the weirdos!!) The commenters are such a gift!
    You win the prize as neither...weirdo nor troll!!!..

    what a lovely comment.....and I adore the word "Plethora"! It is a lovely and descriptive word! Thank you!! It means " many of...... or an abundance of" Great word!!!

  26. I am always totally amazed at the scholarship of your posts..they should be required reading for anyone interested in history and/or design...better yet, why not publish them all into one fantastic tome? really, they are amazing works of art in themselves..bravo, Joni!

  27. Love this post!
    Just one small correction, from a Southern horsewoman. The bronze horse is indeed Estimate, but she is a modern race filly. She won the Gold Cup for the Queen and was later disqualified for a morphine positive which appeared to come from contaminated feed. She was a wonderful race filly. The other bronze equine statue present on the farm is of the legendary Persimmon, who won the Epsom Derby and the St. Leger for the Prince of Wales in 1896. He did not win the English Triple Crown, as he was defeated in the 2000 Guineas. The American Triple Crown was first won in 1919, but not referred to as the Triple Crown until 1930. Only a horseman would pay attention to this!! :D
    Joni, you consistently have the best blog of any kind on the web! Thank you, Happy Holiday, and have a wonderful New Year!!

    1. Thank you!!!! I am lost on horse racing. My cousin loves it and goes to the races and knows all about it - but he's never been to Ascot or any hoity toity races that I KNOW of!! Thanks for the details. Did you read the Vanity Fair article about the Queen and her dogs- if you like horses, you will love the dogs. It's the same thing, but they are just bigger and faster. right?!?!??!

      Thanks for your kind words!


  29. Such an entertaining post, Joni. You work very hard on your blog, and it shows. It was a good series, and obviously the producers didn't have that much access to royal residences, but they gave the feeling of the lifestyle, and I think did a good job of it. All in all it was well done, and your research lends an added layer. Thanks for all you do. Happy holidays and a healthy and prosperous new year.

  30. Hey mate, thanks for sharing but this page doesnt format correctly in Chrome it is is overlapping.
    Just want to say your article is astounding. The clarity in your post is simply spectacular and i can assume you are an expert on this field. Well with your permission allow me to grab your rss feed to keep up to date with incoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the fabulous work. Elite Male Extra

  31. This information is impressive; I am inspired with your post writing style & how continuously you describe this topic. After reading your post, thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel happy about it and I love learning more about this topic.
    Civil engineering outsourcing services | hoa lan ho diep | Civil engineering services | Outsource Structural Drafting Services | Outsource CAD drafting services

  32. Great post! Where did you find the unfinished floor plan of Sandringham?

  33. The big stud farm you looked for and couldn't find is Manton, near Marlborough, Wiltshire.

  34. Sometime it becomes very hard to find a well written and well established bog which give you correct and useful information. However, I found this blog and got some relevant information which are really helpful for me.

  35. The stables filming location was Manton Grange near Marlborough, Wiltshire