“High in the breathtaking scenery of the Snowdonia National Park, this charming little cottage was built in 1863 for Henry Hovendon, Superintendent of the Ffestiniog Railway. Today, it is decaying; the lathe and plaster ceilings have collapsed from water penetration, and the floors and joinery are rotten. Abandoned for nearly a decade and recently listed Grade II, Coed y Bleiddiau’s remote setting has left it impractical for modern daily life.”
Last Saturday dawned bright and sunny and the day stayed perfect in every way throughout. I crept quietly out of Gladstone’s Library at 10 past 6 in the morning and arrived at Porthmadog Harbour Station Car Park at about 20 to 8. This was a day to remember! I was invited by two friends who are patrons of The Landmark Trust to ride the Ffestiniog Railway and view the ruined property which the Trust are about set to restore in partnership with the Railway.
Portrait of Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Those of you with a literary bent will recognise both titles from the one above and surmise, quite correctly, that I have been staying in Florence recently.
A Corner of Princelet Street Dining Room
Last week I spent a few days in London sharing again the lovely Georgian Landmark in Spitalfields: 13 Princelet Street. Over years of visits to London my sister and I have enjoyed walks in selected areas or on particular themes; getting to know the places a little more intimately and enjoying the exercise too. Continue reading
The tree is decorated, the presents have been bought and the cards have been written and posted. But there’s still shopping and cooking to be done and there are gifts to be wrapped so what better time could there be to take off for a 2 night pre-Christmas break, literally away-from-it-all, at a Landmark at Netherby in Cumbria – Coop House? Continue reading
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
On Friday I stepped back in time visiting a pre-Beeching era railway station. My friend, Ann, and I were on our way to spend a weekend visiting Pugin-related buildings in East Staffordshire, staying at a National Trust cottage in the Manifold Valley (Peak District) and, hopefully, fitting in a country walk in the valley. More about these in future posts; but our first destination of the weekend was the Landmark Trust’s Alton Station which Ann arranged for us to visit on this changeover day. Continue reading
Travelling between Leeds and Cornwall last week I decided to take a detour and visit one of the LAND sculptures created by Sir Antony Gormley for The Landmark Trust in celebration of its Fiftieth Anniversary.
Back in May, when I was in Ireland, The Landmark Trust celebrated it’s 50th anniversary with a variety of activities and events on a Golden Weekend – the sun even shone! That weekend (16 and 17 May) properties were open to the public, Antony Gormley’s LAND sculptures were unveiled and visitors at all properties were entertained by choirs singing simultaneous performances of An Anthem for Landmark.
I was disappointed to miss this event but in the annual Friends’ mailing I received an invitation to attend “A reception for Friends to include a talk and tour about Shottesbrooke, its church and Landmark’s offices” and the date was to be the afternoon of Friday 26 June. I knew already that I’d be flying out of Gatwick on 18 June and back on 25. So I decided to drive to London, leaving the car at Belsize Park, and drive to Shottesbrooke in Berkshire on the Friday in question.
What a beautiful day it was and how lucky the Landmark Trust staff are to work in such beautiful, rural surroundings. A buffet lunch was spread before us upon arrival; and not long after the first group was assembled to have an introduction to the Estate and its deserted medieval village by local historian David Ford. You can read here his history of the Estate and his entertaining history of the Church.
Spire inspired by Salisbury Cathedral
St John’s Church, Shottesbrooke features in Simon Jenkins’s “England’s Thousand Best Churches” which I’ve mentioned here several times before. “The spire is visible rising over the woods from a distance and is a splendid feature of the landscape.” Inside there are several extraordinary tombs, including the double tomb of Sir William Trussell and his lady with a canopy of eight ogee arches, and “The floors of Shottesbrooke are littered with splendid brasses still in place. one pair, of a priest and a layman of c.1370, has them both in prayer with singularly grim expressions on their faces.”
The Trussell Double Tomb
After visiting the church we were taken across the lawns to view the exterior of Shottesbrooke Park House. It is still owned by descendants of cousins of the Vansittart family who bought the property in 1716, namely the widow and son of Sir John Smith (founder of The Landmark Trust).
Sir John Smith Memorial in the Churchyard
Side View of the House
Rear of House
Following David’s tour we adjourned back to the cottage for further cups of tea and home made cake before being taken to see the anniversary exhibition in a barn, to offices in farm out-buildings and the Landmark main offices in the former farmhouse.
Welcome to the Exhibition
A Display Table
To be published soon!
The Director of The Landmark Trust, Anna Keay, then welcomed us and thanked us for our support before going on to tell us about two properties that are opening this year (Belmont at Lyme Regis and St Edward’s Presbytery at Ramsgate) and future projects. Strawberries and cream were served to round off a wonderful afternoon. Friday was the start of a weekend of festivities and receptions at Shottesbrooke including a Director’s Lunch for Landmark Patrons on the Saturday and a big anniversary celebration on the Sunday to which all staff including housekeepers and gardeners were invited.
Carousel Fun on Sunday!
There are three new Quiet London books. In the volume “food and drink” there are lots of ‘new’ listings. Flicking through I noticed that a cafe has now opened in the cloister of St Bartholomew The Great church, West Smithfield. Over the years I’ve stayed half a dozen times at 45A Cloth Fair one of three Landmark Trust properties in Central London.
Last week a friend of mine was staying there and invited me to join her on Thursday afternoon. I travelled down that morning for a big event on Saturday (more later). We decided to try out the cafe and it was indeed quiet. But then it was a lovely warm day and there were plenty of people in the churchyard having their offices lunches in the sunshine.
“Enter the beautiful Great St Bartholomew’s church by passing underneath the Elizabethan gatehouse” writes Siobhan Wall.
“After slowly wandering round its hallowed interior, find a table in this tranquil cafe to the right of the main porch.”
“There aren’t many places where you can sit and have a slice of chocolate cake [or a Higgidy pie, for that matter] among fifteenth-century cloisters, but the ancient surroundings make this one of the nicest cafes in London to have afternoon tea.”
“Fresh mint tea is served in white china pots, and with the pale green light filtering through the leaded glass windows this is one of the most peaceful corners in England.”