My great-grandfather was a pupil at this Blewcoat (Bluecoat) School in the 1850s/60s and I made a trip to London especially to visit the building. Tucked away between (ugly) modern giants this little building is reassuringly inviting and most pleasing to the eye. The front and back doorways of the cube are almost identical and there is only one room between them; the west door is blocked on the inside with a large (restored) fireplace where the doorway once was. I find it curious that when both doorways were in use, you would have entered by one door only to find yourself immediately confronted by the exit door! The one room is the total sum of the school but whilst it has been very tastefully refurbished into a comfortable, peaceful coffee and NT gift shop, I couldn't help but feel that the luxurious carpet and swank Chesterfield sofas did nothing at all to reflect the harshness of the wooden benches and splintery floorboards of the period school; indeed if it were not for the sign informing us that it WAS once a school,and the little statue of the 'Blewcoat Boy', I don't suppose that anyone would ever know - sadly every trace of school-life has been obliterated. I asked if there was a leaflet or any information about the school to be had but no - nothing at all. Even so, it was worth a visit and a lovely peaceful corner in which to grab a quiet coffee....and of course we should thank the NT for saving it from demolition.
What a fantastic stately home and estate! I was taken aback by the beautiful Robert Adam interiors, Chippendale furniture, wonderful Ayrshire settings and had a lovely lunch in the old Coach House Cafe. Thank you to our guide and all the helpful staff. We'll definitely be back next year!
We visited the farmers Christmas Market last Sunday, bringing mother and father-in-law for a day out. The tour of the hall was excellent and good value for money at £6.50 per person. However, having paid £1 pound each to park the car, a pot of tea in the cafe was £1.80 each with only one tea bag in a pot for 4. I was very upset and mince pies were a rip off too, displayed on a plate so big with a knife and fork. I would not recommend the cafe to anyone. The hall is lovely and well thought out.
Absolutely amazing that this has been discovered. The Roman Amphitheatre has been restored beautifully and is a must see if you are visiting Chester. The history goes back to about 74 AD which makes this city nearly 2000 years old. If you get the chance to go on a Roman walk to discovery the history in full.
I think this house is one of the most interesting that I have been to. The guide was fantastic - an absolute mine of information! Will make sure it is on my list for another visit.
Not only is this castle an amazing place to visit and located in a beautiful spot, it is also a fantastic part of the history of England. There are no sign posts so study a map carefully before you attempt to find it. I found it thanks to asking locals for directions. It is a shame and I find it surprising that it is not better maintained nor publicised, as it is a wonderful place to take a few hours out of your day to visit. The castle is exquisite while the river and the trees surrounding this wonderful ruin make it breath-taking.
Although hard to find King John's Castle is scenic, beautifully located and magnificent. Dating back to the 12th century and intimately tied to the history of the Magna Carta this is a must see for anyone in the area. It is a shame that it is not very well maintained and parts of the stones were falling onto the gravel below.
I travelled from the other side of the world to see the famous literary shrines of Britain and Gad's Hill Place was the most important on my list. Imagine my frustration then when the place wasn't even signposted. It took some time and the aid of locals to locate its position but even when I knew I must be standing within fifty metres of it, there was no indication of its existence. Please, this was the home of arguably the world's greatest ever novelist. How many thousands of fans must be frustrated and disappointed yearly?
A fine old building, dating from c.1496, to hold the harvest tithes due to the Abbey of St Augustine - payable by tenant farmers working the Abbey's large tracts of ecclesiastical land. A simple massive structure, built in blue lias stone, with a heavy roof of thick Cotswold slate, using recycled timbers in the roof trusses. This barn has a timeless air, set in a quiet location, adjoining Ashleworth Court, and the nearby Ashleworth Quay. It has stood for 500 years - a functional building of simple beauty.
We visited Kiplin Hall for the torchlit Ghost Tour in October 2011. Not only was it very interesting to hear the stories of several of the ghostly inhabitants, but the Jacobean interior is amazing too. Well worth a visit.
We visited Eltham Palace today and enjoyed it immensely. It's really nice to see something out of the ordinary. Easy to find and good "free" parking which was a bonus. We had lunch in the tea room and the food was excellent and well priced, the staff throughout were helpful and friendly. Overall, a very enjoyable and informative visit. Will strongly recommend it.
Halloween Events at this property in recent years have been brilliant - Children's Ghost Hunts, Paranormal Events, Fireside Tales, Spooky Tours - highly recommended! I just wish my old favourite events would return.... the Shakespeare Outdoor Theatre Plays.
I visited Highclere Castle for 'Heroes at Highclere'. And what a Fabulous Time I had, The Castle is so beautiful and full of character and the grounds superb, The Cafe is well catered with China cups and saucers and real cutlery not the polystyrene cups and plastic knives/forks that you get catered with everywhere else, I had a really enjoyable tea with delicious cream and jam scones, in the most tranquil of surroundings. I will definitely return, well worth the visit!
This was my school from 1963 for 8 years. Under the main stairs is a chalk tunnel leading to the cliffs. Several times I went into this smugglers tunnel. It is no longer mentioned, but it is still there. In the conservatory room I first learned of Keith Richards, someone who kept me alive through the most unbearable period of my life. Thank you. I know why Pugin died so young, that place has an effect that can drag you down. There is a negative energy there that is tangible. Something is very wrong there. Pugin had problems other than mercury, that place is alive with something awful. Thank you Keith for getting me through this. Pugin built this tunnel and the lookout room, in the tower, for reasons that HMRC would not appreciate. An interesting story is waiting to be told! (I claim copyright)
We went to Highclere yesterday (Saturday 15th October 2011) and were amazed by the number of people queuing to get in to the grounds. They came in their thousands to the extent that they were turned away as the castle could not cope with the sheer volume of people. We were very lucky as we managed to get to the ticket office just as they were announcing the castle's closure so we gambled and paid for tickets anyway managing to eventually get inside. We were so glad as we had travelled all the way from Lancashire. Please pre-book your tickets if you are travelling from afar as due to its current popularity because of Downton Abbey you may not get in. Be warned! It was well worth the wait though and a very beautiful building and home. A great day out in the end with beautiful weather too. Result!
I am surprised the archaeology work currently being undertaken has not been mentioned in the articles on Copped Hall Essex. The Tudor foundations on the older Medieval Manor are undergoing excavation by West Essex Archaeology Group with Copped Hall Trust. The digs are open to the public in the summer, with opportunities to dig.
We visited the gardens on October 9th 2011 and was pleasantly surprised by what we found. The gardens were magnificent and the heritage was very interesting. The staff were extremely polite and helpful.
The cost of entry was excellent value for money and the entire facility was a joy and well worth a repeat visit.
Interestingly, the stables at Stratfield Saye were built out front on purpose. The house we were to visit was intended to have been demolished and replaced by a grand “Wellington Palace”. Knowing this one fact explains a lot about this house and its interesting history. Entrance to the house is by guided tour only and Neville, dapper in blue blazer and pink trousers, took us around.
In short, this Jacobean/Stewart H-shaped house (probably built circa 1630 by Sir William Pitt, Comptroller of the Household to James I) was modified and extended in the 18th century, given a coating of render and lived in ever since. The garden is mainly lawn, though to the front left corner is a domestic-scale fenced garden with herbaceous borders. Not really a plantsman’s house.
The house was originally red brick, showing the owner had the wealth to afford such a building material. Pitt, 1st Baron Rivers, however, decided stucco was more suiting and a white icing was applied to the exterior during a programme of extensive work to the house and park in the 18th Century. Today the colour is more golden honey.
After Waterloo, Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington, had the enviable task of choosing a country house for himself – a gift from the State. He wanted somewhere close to London and Windsor, with good land. He rejected Uppark Park (poor land) and settled on Hampshire. The estate, accumulated by the Pitts, was sold for £263,000 by George Pitt, second Baron Rivers, to Parliamentary trustees for the use of the first Duke of Wellington in 1817-18.
The estate remains vested in these statutorily-appointed trustees (who include the Prime Minister, ex-officio) rather than in the Dukes themselves; the Dukes pay an annual rent of a flag, presented to the sovereign on the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. Location Location Location was the key. ‘Waterloo Palace’ would be built in the grounds in the north-east of the park and Stratfield Saye demolished. This explains the location of the stables.
Wyatt’s plans for Waterloo Palace are framed on the walls of Stratfield Saye. It would have resembled Blenheim and then some. In the events that happened, Wellington seemed to have had more lust and resources to purchase the furniture for his intended palace than he did building it. In 1821 the plans were eventually abandoned as being too expensive, in favour of extending and improving the existing house: turning the entrance hall into a double-height space (creating a rear wing with new bedrooms above) and adding a conservatory (1838 – now housing an indoor swimming pool) and outer wings (1846). The house has a very ‘Regency’ feel.
Wellington certainly took advantage of the French furniture that was going cheap during the late 19th century and he built quite a collection. He also received over 200 pictures from the Spanish Royal Collection, which had been looted during war. At the Battle of Vitoria in 1813 they were captured from Joseph Bonaparte: some had been ripped from their frames and used to protect horses from the rain. They survived remarkably well but the King of Spain, Ferdinand VII, thought it more befitting that Wellington took them. 80 are sited at Stratfield Saye (including a series of reproduction Van Dycks), the rest at the Wellingtons’ London home, Apsley House.
Rooms on the tour are limited to the ground floor:
¦library: with elaborate, gilded paper mache ceiling;
¦morning room: now the study with a very well-used Chippendale desk;
¦dining room: added circa 1775 by Lord Rivers and housing pictures of many ladies who took the eye of old Arthur;
¦sitting room: with the ‘stolen’ Spanish Royal paintings and original wallpaper.
Part of the stable block houses the 1st Duke's hearse and an exhibition, which shows some effort has been put in to create an attraction here.
The visitor reception/cafe and toilet block are found in the grounds near the field where cars park. On offer is quiche and potatoes, cake and a pot of honey. Given their limited opening, it’s nice to see they go to the effort of producing hot food, though I’m sure they’d do better offering really good scones and clotted cream with a pot of tea for £5. I certainly would have bought that.
We visited Charlecote Park earlier this year. It is absolutely beautiful inside! Some of the guides chew your ear off a bit... (seem to find this at a lot of NT properties though!) Although the (we think) head gardener, was fabulous, he let us go into the 'staff only' greenhouse and showed us all the plants he was bringing on ready to go into the main gardens! It really was a lovely experience!
The gardens at the time we visited were at the end of a season and so slightly delapidated, but there were a lot of volunteers on site working hard! Definitely worth a visit! Also.... do make a detour to the little garden centre over the road! Not your run of the mill garden centre, but something rather beautiful about it!
Intent on making the best of the unexpected mini heatwave this weekend I headed to the ever popular National Trust Estate of Ashridge in Buckinghamshire.
There is free parking, a National Trust shop and information centre as well as Brownlows café which is open from 8am till 6 pm and sells the most wonderful homemade cakes. The Duke of Bridgewater Monument is open to the public for a small fee and after mounting the many steps the view is stunning across the Herts and Bucks borders, toilets and drinking water for dogs is also available.
I decided to park up and head towards the Ashridge Business College which was once Ashridge House which is a less busy route and ideal for walking at a leisurely pace. The warm sunshine was drying the still damp grass from an early morning shower that had washed everything clean. On this walk you cross the edge of the Ashridge golf course and head towards the cricket field that stands facing Ashridge House which is (now the business college). Today it was school boy footballers packing up after a practice sessions that covered the edge of the grass field. The cricket session finished for another year. Fallow deer darted through the dense trees and hid once again amongst the oaks leaving me still looking for the your camera. Red kites also nest here but I seen none today and the woodpeckers were quiet today.
I walked to the far edge of the cricket field and sat in the shade to enjoy an hour with a book and my picnic. My dog lay dozing amongst the fallen acorns, although he kept one eye open hoping for the return of the deer. Autumn is such a lovely time to visit Ashridge, the gold and maroon tints are only just painting the trees but enough leaves litter the ground to walk through and feel the childish delight of the crunch underfoot. It will be another few weeks before the full effect of the golden archways of trees on the drive through the estate is at its most colourful and dramatic.
There were plenty of people enjoying Ashridge today and although I stayed on the quiet paths it was nice to see families enjoying the sunshine. I left feeling envious of the people who live nearby and have access to the estate as their back garden.
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