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Our work at Oxburgh Estate

A gardener working on the restoration of the parterre at Oxburgh Hall
A gardener working in the parterre at Oxburgh Hall | © National Trust Images/Paull Harris

The team of staff and volunteers work all year round to care for Oxburgh Estate. Learn about some of the work we carry out to conserve the house, garden and estate, from tending to vegetables in the kitchen garden and planting trees, to protecting the collection from pests.

Our work in the house

Protecting Oxburgh Estate

Through all four seasons we work hard to protect the collection, building and interiors at Oxburgh from agents of deterioration. All our collections need to be protected from sunlight, humidity and pests. The team puts protective measures in place and then monitors items through regular checks and condition reports.

The annual clean

Once a year the house is thoroughly cleaned from top to bottom during the annual clean. Each room is done systematically from the ceiling, walls and curtains down to the furniture and floor. Overcleaning can be damaging to historic materials, but so can dust or dirt. We try to balance these concerns by avoiding abrasive methods and using a variety of specialist cleaning tools.

Understanding Oxburgh

The team at Oxburgh regularly undertakes or commissions research and investigations to help us understand the history of this special place. This has helped us uncover Jacobite links, locate historic graffiti and discover long-lost items that were hidden under the floors. Every new find helps to further our understanding of the people who lived here and their experience, often as Catholic recusants in a Protestant country.

The fragment of a rare 15th century manuscript discovered beneath the floorboards at Oxburgh Estate
The fragment of a rare 15th century manuscript discovered beneath the floorboards at Oxburgh Estate | © National Trust Images/Mike Hodgson

Our work in the garden

Providing fresh produce

We work all year round in the kitchen garden to supply the tea-room with fresh produce. Many of the vegetables we grow from seed are heritage varieties, including the fat lazy blond lettuce that dates back to 1859 and skirret, a forgotten Tudor vegetable that was often added to salads in a similar way to spring onions.

Growing plants

In 2010 a group of volunteers rebuilt the glasshouse – where we care for many of the garden’s young plants until they are ready to be planted out – to reflect an earlier Victorian version. We now use the rainwater from the roof to water the beds and an energy-saving air-source heat pump to heat the building.

Managing the orchard

Meanwhile, we’re working to restore the orchard that once grew here. Adding to the established medlar and quince trees, we’ve planted apple and pear trees. The grass is managed as a wildflower meadow and we cut it using the traditional method of scything.

Our work on the estate

Tree planting in the parkland

As part of the Parkland restoration project, we planted 130 trees over the winter of 2021/2022, including 20 rare black poplar trees. The black poplar is one of Britain’s rarest native trees and planting more will increase the species' genetic diversity.

Thank you

With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.

Visitors by the river at Oxburgh Estate, Norfolk


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