May 23 2013 Latest news:
Tracey Gray, Reporter
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Fairytales and fables tell of golden eggs and treasure being found in the strangest of places.
Now fantasy is set to become reality as a treasure hunt, with a top prize on offer of a uniquely crafted 23-and-a-half carat golden apple worth around £2,000, is launched in North Norfolk.
Treasure hunters are being challenged to pit their wits with the In The Search of the Golden Caroline Treasure Hunt event at Blickling Hall near Aylsham which runs from Sunday, July 1 until Sunday, August 12.
The hunt, run by the National Trust in association with The Red Dot Gallery in Holt, has been named in honour of a variety of apple, The Caroline, which in the 1820s was grown in the gardens at Blickling Hall and was named after Lady Caroline Suffield, the wife of Lord Suffield, who lived at Blickling for 83 years during the mid 18th and 19th centuries.
Now a unique wood-carved, gilded and jewelled apple, ‘The Golden Caroline’, which has been specially-commissioned to celebrate the historic variety, is to become the ultimate prize, as visitors to the National Trust’s Blickling Hall take part in a treasure hunt of a lifetime.
Hidden within 12 new paintings being exhibited as part of a collection of 19 pictures by local artist Lizzie Riches in the Long Gallery at the hall, are clues which visitors have to solve.
Six ‘keyholders’ will be chosen from those who correctly solve the clues and mark an X on a map provided to them, closet to the correct place where the treasure would fictitiously be buried. They will then be sent a letter and invited to come along to the Aylsham Show on bank holiday Monday, August 27, where they will be given a key to open a box. As well as the golden apple other prizes, which have not yet been confirmed, will also be on offer.
Mrs Riches said: “The paintings have been inspired by the house and grounds. I think it is a wonderful idea having a treasure hunt which gets people to look at the paintings and the property.” One of the pictures depicts Lady Suffield herself holding an apple.
The production of the prize has brought together the combined skills of Norfolk craftsmen and women.
Violin maker Philip Taylor has carved the apple from Norfolk wood and also the beehive box it will stand in. Norfolk master framers Richard Parks and Stacey Geary have gilded the apple in 23-and-a-half carat gold and jewellery designer Oliver Webb from Webbs County Jewellers situated in Holt has added faceted black sapphires to represent the pips.
Helping to organise the event is renowned treasure-hunt organiser Sam Gething-Lewis, who is the owner of Treasure Hunt Design and has featured on British television shows such as Country House Rescue. He has used the paintings as the source for his clues, which will take visitors on a treasure hunt through the house, garden and wider estate.
The treasure hunt idea was the brainchild of Colin Rawlings from The Red Dot Gallery in Holt.
Mr Rawlings, who lives close to Blickling Hall, said: “We wanted something to make people come into the house and also out into the grounds, something where people would experience all parts of the hall. The treasure hunt is something which will also engage with families.
“Some of the clues are visual, some are difficult and some are easy if you use your eyes.”
The Caroline Apple itself, described as ‘long keeping, flushed pink, crisp and firm fleshed’ was propagated and flourished at the hall during the 18th and 19th centuries, but eventually dwindled in production with the onslaught of the first and second world war, until it was deemed lost. It was some 150 years on that a surviving tree was found near Oxburgh, and now the East of England Apples and Orchards Project have helped preserve it, taking some cuttings from the surviving tree, so the apples can now be purchased via them, at www.applesandorchards.org.uk.
For further information on the hunt and opening times for Blickling Hall telephone 01263 738030 or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blickling