Saturday, 30 December 2017


And so 2017 comes to an end.... here are a couple of pictures from Thaxted taken on a Boxing day stroll.

John Webb's windmill built in 1804. It is a long a path by the church

 The church. One of the finest in Essex.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Canons Ashby

Canons Ashby  gets its name from the Augustinian priory which was founded in the 12th century. A small fraction of the monastic church survives. In 1551 it became the private chapel of the Dryden family who unusually kept the church open as a parish church.

Canons Ashby house was built in about 1550 by the Dryden family with additions in the 1590s, in the 1630s and 1710. It is largely unchanged since 1710. It has many Elizabethan and Jacobean features.

I ought to add it is one of my favourite properties. It has charm.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Croome & Middle Littleton Tithe Barn

Croome was built by the Earl's of Coventry.

The estate has had a chequered recent history... after WWII the Croome Estate Trust sold the house and 38 acres to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Birmingham. From 1979 to 84 it was leased to the Hare Krishna movement eventually it was purchased by the Croome House trust in 2007 and is now leased to the National Trust (the Trust owns the park). There is a walled garden which I never got to today.

The House was stripped of most of its contents.

The park was designed by Lancelot Capability Brown. Since I first visited the whole estate has much improved/restored!

Tthe visitors centre is unusual, in 1941 part of the park was transformed into RAF Defford and the visitors centre is the old RAF Medical buildings. Defford was used to test radar and Defford was the place the first automated landing took place.

I had never heard of Middle Littleton Tithebarn and from the road you'd be pushed to known it existed (very modest concealed sign) I knew it was there as they have a twitter account.

It was built in either the 13th or 14th century. It was supposedly built in 1376 by Abbot Ombersley of Evesham Abbey but a radiocarbon date suggested 1250. Whatever this is a seriously impressive building.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

The Brockhampton Estate

At the beginning of October I went to Hay-on-Wye and the Cotswolds for the last break of the year.

One of the more interesting places I visited was the Brockhampton Estate and in particular the late 14th century moated Manor House of Lower Brockhampton. The gatehouse is relatively recent being around 1540! The estate was gifted to the Trust in 1946 by John Lutley whose family had owned it for 20 generations.

The house had been  tenanted until recently.

I would definitely recommend a visit. There are plenty of estate walks. In Shropshire English Heritage have a property called Stokesay Castle that is well worth investigating as another example of pre-15th century architecture that is on a less grand scale than your typical castle.

Friday, 29 September 2017


Some pics from a recent holiday. I spent 4 days in South East Wales and 4 days on the Somerset/Wiltshire border.

Tintern was a cistercian foundation started in 1131. Most of the abbey buildings are gone but the church is fairly complete (it has lost its roof and window tracery). It was "refound" in the 18th century first by the Buck brothers prints, Gilpin's voyages down the Rye from Ross and finally by Wordsworth. Today it is in the care of CADW and scrubbed of the ivy and the stone floors laid to grass. Jenkins dislikes this (Wales Churches, Houses and Castles) I'm not sure I agree but life is about opinions. I must say the site seems a bit hemmed in by the 20th century I wish it was more isolated like Byland in Yorkshire.

The Kymin is a National Trust property I have never visited. It's a picnic house with a kitchen below and banquetting room above. It was built for the Kymin club of Monmouth but anyone could use it at a cost of 6d payable to the housekeeper if you brought your own food or a shilling if you wished her to  serve you tea.

Nelson and Lady Hamilton breakfasted  here in 1802. Nelson was pleased to see himself listed on the temple next to the Kymin celebrating British Admirals.

Raglan castle which is an oddity. Whereas most Welsh castle were established by the Normans to suppress the Welsh,  Raglan was built in the 15th century. Raglan's heyday was the 16th century when it was one of the great renaissance house of Britain. Little remains of that today but you  can see hints. In the 17th Century with the family becoming Dukes of Beaufort the castle was abandoned and the family moved to their other seat Badminton (apparently Badminton's great parlour chimney came from Raglan). Alas Badminton is not open to the public (groups can visit the gardens) Jenkins (him again) suggests it is one of the few great houses you can't visit, I respect the families right but oh I wish.

Lytes Cary is a relatively small property dating from the 14th through to the 20th century. The oldest extant part is the chapel dating from 1343 and the great hall is 15th century. The house was restored and extended by Sir Walter Jenner (he bought it in 1907). It has a nice garden and there are some fine park walks.

There are lots of pre-Warboys road signs in Somerset/Wiltshire..... I rather like them they have character.

 Farleigh Hungerford Castle was built between 1377 and 1383 by Sir Thomas Hungerford who was a steward of John of Gaunt. The castle survived the Civil War but it became unlived in during the 18th century and fell into disrepair. It's chapel (below) was once the parish church and is well worth the entry to see its fine wall-paintings and monuments.

The Courts a small, but lovely, garden in Holt just north of Bradford Avon. It was, I believe, created in the first part of the 20th century.

About a mile or so from the Courts is Great Chalfield Manor. Which is a rare example of an occupied pre-Tudor mansion. The setting with the church is fabulous. the manor was built by Thomas Tropnell around 1470, the current All Saints church was built by Tropnell around 1480. The house was repaired by Major Robert Fuller between 1905-1911. The house is still lived in by the Fuller's who manage it for the Trust. The house is visited by guided tour and there is no photography.

 Montacute is a late Elizabethan House built by Sir Edward Phelips Master of the Rolls and the prosecutor of the gunpowder plot. It is also home to a collection of portraits from the National Portrait Gallery.

2 miles up the road is Tintinhull.

The house was built in 1630 but it was enlarged and reshaped in the 1720's a few rooms are open but the reason for coming is the arts & craft small garden. I really love this garden it is so liveable and I am always happy to wander and sit and read here.

Friday, 1 September 2017

St Mawes & Padstow

A few pics from St Mawes a village on the Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall. Obviously tourism plays a big part it hasn't become too over commercialised

St Mawes castle in the care of English Heritage.... there is a "twin" across the river Fal in Falmouth which I will visit next time I'm in Cornwall.

On another day I went to Padstow. I first visited in 1982 and it was a lovely place. Today it has become famous as the home of celebrity chef Rick Stein as is known as Padstein. As much as I like his TV programmes I'm not sure I approve of the changes to Padstow. It has become overly commercialised with the lovely higgle piggedy book shop going  (I bought the Foundation Trilogy here as well as the first two volumes of Julian May's Saga of the Pliocene Exiles) as well as the small cinema I saw the Wrath of Khan in in 1982!!  I'm sure it has brought in jobs and money but at the cost of a bit of charm,