“We Have Done Our Best and Made A Garden Where None Was”* : Sissinghurst in Kent

house and garden

Sissinghurst Castle and Garden

Can it really be three years since some of us from the online book group met up on a summer’s day outside London? At least, it was in 2013 that I last posted about one. That was in Malvern and before that, in 2012, Chatsworth. This year it was the turn of Sissinghurst.

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Mattishall : The Geographical Centre of Norfolk.

This week I’m visiting family in Norfolk but I decided to book my own place for the week and now find myself in the geographical centre of the county staying in Mattishall.

Mostly I’ve been driving into Norwich to visit family and take my mother out for ‘days’. But today I stayed around Mattishall and took two walks around the village and local lanes. The first on my own and later with my schoolfriend and her husband, daughter and Phoebe their spaniel.

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Pugin’s Staffordshire Gems

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812 – 1852) was a prolific architect of the Victorian age. In fact he burned himself out through over work and died at the age of 41 having designed not only the exteriors but also the furnishings and fittings of  countless churches not only in England, but also in Ireland and Australia. He converted to Catholicism and most of his ornate designs are for Roman Catholic churches and cathedrals. There is a long list of his architectural achievements at the end of his Wikipedia entry here. He is most notably connected with the building of the present Palace of Westminster. Continue reading

Wentworth Castle Gardens Revisited

In June 2013 I wrote about my visit to Wentworth Castle Gardens mentioning that I hoped to return to inspect the completed restoration of the Victorian Glasshouse. Yesterday, at last, I managed to get back there and noticed that the trust, the employees, contractors and volunteers had made many further improvements and additions.

Glasshouse

The Fully Restored Victorian Glasshouse

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Travels in an Unwrecked Landscape : Elmley Castle, Worcestershire

The book “England : travels in an unwrecked landscape” published in 1996 is a collection of essays by the late Candida Lycett-Green which first appeared in The Oldie magazine.

unwrecked

My well-thumbed copy

If you enjoy discovering lovely places here in England this book can act as a guide. But I’ve also enjoyed just reading it from cover to cover.

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Report of a Sunday in Lancashire

Last weekend I ventured over to Lancashire. I’d been invited to a garden party at a friend’s allotment (dress code: fascinator and wellies) in Higher Walton, near Preston. It was raining as I left home in Yorkshire but by the time I was across the Pennines it had stopped and we enjoyed a Jacob’s Join lunch in the open air. I must say that allotment gardening, and gardening in general, look like an awful lot of hard work … but the gain is tremendous; Kath’s plot exceeded all expectations.

Plot 98 7

Welcome to the Party!

Wildflower bed

Wildflower Bed

Plot 98 1

Plot 98 6

Kath's Bee Hotel

Kath’s Bee Hotel

The Pottering Shed

It may be a shed

Trespassers

It turned out that the allotment is just a few minutes from Hoghton Tower so after lunch two of us made our way to the Tower where we came across a reenactment of the Battle of Preston (1715). Amongst the reenactors I was surprised to see the Leeds Waits a group of musicians specialising in medieval music and, incidentally, my next-door neighbours!

Leeds Waits

The battle of Preston at Houghton Tower 2015 : a short film showing the musicians that used to play at executions!”

We booked a tour of the house at 2.30 and made for the tea room for refreshments beforehand.

Hoghton Tower

Some significant people are associated with Hoghton. In particular our guide was impressed by the James I connection. James is reported to have spent a few nights at the Tower in 1617 and it was here that he was so pleased with his roast beef dinner that he knighted the joint Sir Loin. James was apparently a small chap and instead of dismounting outside in the courtyard he rode his horse right into the house and up the stairs.
It is also reported that William Shakespeare spent some time here during the period known as his ‘lost years’.

Charles Dickens was also familiar with the house and wrote a short story centred around it including a description of the building as a farm house: George Silverman’s Explanation.

And so, by fragments of an ancient terrace, and by some rugged outbuildings that had once been fortified, and passing under a ruined gateway, we came to the old farm-house in the thick stone wall outside the old quadrangle of Hoghton Towers.

Courtyard today

The “quadrangle” today

Read here about another blogger’s visit to Hoghton.

The Battle's over

The Battle’s Over – Time to go Home

 

 

Hales Great Barn

This weekend was our nephew’s wedding in Norfolk and as this was a family and friends occasion I never expected to conjure up a blog post about it. But, since we got home I couldn’t resist showing you the magnificent venue where the reception was held.

inside great barn

After a few days of seasonally summer weather at last, Saturday dawned wet and cloudy and the rain continued, on and off, throughout the day. It was a shame but it didn’t dull any of our festivities: it just meant that we were inside for rather more time than we had expected to be.

Hempnall Church

The wedding itself took place in St Margaret’s Church, Hempnall (above) and had a lovely relaxed country wedding atmosphere. From there a convoy of cars travelled along the quiet country lanes of Norfolk and Suffolk and across the huge Hales Green Common to reach Hales Hall Barn for the reception.

barn in full

About Hales Hall

The Great Barn at Hales Hall and the Hall itself were built in 1478 and the present Hall is the surviving wing of an even larger house built by Sir James Hobart, the Attorney General to Henry VII. There have been buildings on the site since Roman times.

The barn outside

The 178ft Great Barn is the largest surviving brick-built medieval barn in Britain and features a superb example of a ‘queen-post’ roof.

Massive roof

The Hall and Great Barn had fallen into agricultural use by 1971 when it was purchased by the Read family. It has been lovingly restored and owners Peter Sheppard and Keith Day plan to continue the restoration in the future.

Hales Hall is set on the edge of Hales Green, one of only a few ‘commons’ still grazed by cattle in the summer and is a haven for wildlife. At the heart of the Waveney Valley, Hales is surrounded by market towns and is close to the historic city of Norwich and within easy reach of the Norfolk and Suffolk coast.” [from the Hales Barn]

HH Accommodation

Remaining Buildings of Hales Hall

According to local information the Hall itself was demolished around 1700 leaving only the gatehouse and adjoining domestic building.

Remaining Hall

The Gatehouse

groom and bride

The Happy Couple in the Rain

A Beautiful Oasis of Peace and Tranquility in the Heart of Durham City : Crook Hall and Gardens

Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral from Crook Hall Tea Room

Writing this on a warm sunny Easter Monday it’s hard to believe that last Tuesday in Durham I managed to avoid snow showers whilst meeting a friend from my online book group for a day out at Crook Hall and Gardens in Durham.

Crook Hall

This fascinating house and garden deserve another visit in the summer time when there will be more colour and a less forbidding sky. However, we did manage to visit each garden and delighted in what we saw.

The Hall

 

Beams

The Hall is 13th century and provides a spectacular backdrop to the stunning gardens. It’s a short walk from the bustling city centre to this oasis of peace. There’s a tea room in the Georgian wing served by the house kitchen and you can visit many of the rooms in the house including the medieval hall with exposed beams.

The Orchard

The Orchard

Shakespeare garden

The Shakespeare Garden inspired by a book on plants in Shakespeare’s plays

Shakespeare in his garden

Shakespeare in his garden

Moat

The Moat Pool

Cathedral garden

The Cathedral Garden : the beds echo stained glass windows

Monks in garden

Durham Cathedral from the Cathedral Garden: the Topiary Box represent the Monks

Be entertained by Clare Balding as she takes a walk with the owners of Crook Hall and finds out about the history of Crook Hall and Gardens :

Crook Hall on Ramblings