Mrs Hudson’s Holiday Fun

Summer holidays!  Walpole and I are going out and about with lots of families this month to make the most of the outdoors and gather in a bit of history at the same time.  We’re calling it Mission Fun because having fun is aim!  Here are my top 10 best places for a great family day out.

  1. Newby Hall, Yorkshire
Fozzie-1023x1000  Newby Hall

Fozzie now residing at Newby Hall

Award winning Newby Hall just keeps on getting better.  They’ve now given a warm welcome to the collection of teddy bears amassed over a lifetime by TV personality Gyles Brandreth. The collection includes Fozzie from The Muppet Show, Children in Need’s Pudsey Bear, Superted, Paddington and Winnie the Pooh. And there are busy bears , I loved seeing them picnicking, getting married, competing in the Olympics and lots of other silly stuff.  They join the gorgeous 65 dolls houses that arrived at Newby last year and if the weather’s fine, children can still have fun getting wet in the adventure gardens and riding the train.

 

  1. Ironbridge Gorge Museums, Shropshire
Ironbridge - Enginuity floating a locomotive

Ironbridge – Enginuity floating a locamotive

Spot Abraham Darby’s iconic cast iron bridge and enjoy 10 museums that mark the birth of the Industrial Revolution in a tranquil green valley in Shropshire.  Take the kids here for hands on fun at Enginuity and a taste of real Victorian life (all the treats and none of the child labour) at Blists Hill Victorian Town.  It’s something they’ll never forget.

  1. Alnwick Castle, Northumberland
Alnwick Castle-medium-Dressing-up-in-Knight-s-Quest-2

Alnwick Castle – Dressing up in Knights Quest

A must for all Harry Potter fans who can fly broomsticks and relive both books and films.  Alnwick also has awesome activities for children with lots of dressing up and mediaeval fun that allows them to get on with enjoyment while parents can just chill out, though watch out for the dragon.  This is a true castle with battlement walks and falconry, interesting museums and great ice cream.

  1. Mirehouse, Cumbria
Playground tyre swing Mirehouse

Playground tire swing at Mirehouse

Unexpectedly, I find this quiet pretty 17th century house with literary connections a great place for young families.  It has four woodland playgrounds, a family nature trail to spot wildlife, a heather path maze and rhododendron tunnel to tire young legs, grass banks to roll down, lawns to play endlessly on and a Poetry Walk to reflect upon.  Inside there is a history quiz to follow, a Victorian nursery that all children are encouraged to play in and a “spot the owl” trail.  All simple stuff but the secret is that they just like kids here.

  1. Osborne House, Isle of Wight
magnifying-glasses-at-swiss-cottage Osborne House copyright English Heritage

Magnifying glasses at Swiss Cottage. Copyright English Heritage

English Heritage are great at activities for children and Osborne is one of the best. It has its own beach for a start and the house is where Queen Victoria brought her family for summer hols.  These nine children had a child sized Swiss Cottage where they played and all the things they collected from rocks to curiosities and a deer with 5 legs are still in a museum alongside it.  There are lots of trails and a special exhibition of Childhood at Osborne.

  1. Blair Castle, Highlands
Hercules_bridge 2009-05-14Blair Castle

Hercules Bridge at Blair Castle

Any Scottish Castle is fun for children and Blair has everything you need.  There are towers and intrigues and scary stories galore, lashings of tartan and weird furniture made of stags’ antlers.  There are woods to roam in and trees to climb and the Hercules Garden is a haven for wildlife with a house for swans recreated from a 17th century original.

  1. Hampton Court Palace, Surrey
The new magical garden at Hampton Court Palace. March 13 2016.

The new magical garden at Hampton Court Palace. Copyright Robert Myers Associates.

For me as a child nothing beat the ghost of Queen Catherine Howard running screaming down the corridor.  Maybe she’s still here?  Hampton Court has more than its fair share of ghosts and plenty of history that kids will grasp.  The maze is fun and the Great Vine House appeals but the new Magic Garden in the Tiltyard will really get them going with lots of battlements to storm and tower houses to besiege.  The Tudor kitchens are interesting but the Georgian chocolate kitchens are the best.  Don’t miss the Royal Tennis Court where Henry VIII might have outplayed Andy Murray.

  1. Llanfaiach Fawr Manor, Caerphilly
The king and Steffan llanfaiach fawr manor

The King and Steffan at Llanfaiach Fawr Manor

Step right into the history of this 17th century manor house where costumed actors playing out the family history in front of you.  Much more fun for children than period rooms and they will pick up a few history facts along the way.  King Charles I is coming on the King’s Day, 7th August (they still think it’s 1645 here) so there will be more of a flurry than usual.

  1. Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
Chatsworth farmyard

Chatsworth Farmyard

Chatsworth of course, has something for everyone.  And for kids, the best bit may be the farmyard.  There are daily talks, milking demonstrations and handling sessions to help kids become young farmers and really get to know the animals.  The adventure playground has grown and grown and now has sand and water play areas, a spiral slide, mini diggers, a trampoline and climbing forest.  Those lucky few with birthdays in the summer holidays can book the Party Hut for a special celebration.

  1. Mount Stewart, County Down
Mount Stewart gardens copyright National Trust Images

Mount Stewart Gardens. Copyright National Trust Images

There’s lots of good healthy outdoor fun with the National Trust at Mount Stewart this summer with the opening of new trails around the parkland.  Hike up to the Temple of the Winds for a stunning view over Strangford Lough and a chance of spotting red squirrels en route.  Best fun for kids here is the formal gardens where statues of dodos and dinosaurs keep you interested.  On 20th August take the family and drop in on their Muck in at Mount Stewart day dedicated to Ivy Bashing in the Gardens – that’ll work off some energy!

Challenge yourself to relax with the kids this summer, picnic on sandwiches and ice cream, and do it all with a bit of history thrown in.

Mrs Hudson is amazed

Shouldn’t every child have a chance to get lost in a maze?  Not totally lost, of course, mazes provide just enough confusion for a thrill but you do always get out in the end (well, except in Harry Potter).  And they have a long history, starting out as Elizabethan labyrinths, just a twisting spiral one way path contained in hedges, and developing into puzzle mazes with lots of dead ends in the late 17th century. Walpole the dog doesn’t really get it and always tries to cut through the hedges at the bottom but that spoils the fun!

So where to find a maze to play in this summer?

Hampton Court Maze

Hampton Court, London

Hampton Court Maze is perhaps the daddy of them all, commissioned by William III in 1700.  It used to be one of a pair, made of hornbeam but was replaced with yew, providing a thick impenetrable series of sinuous hedges over a third of an acre.  If you keep walking with hedge on your right you will make it to the middle, but a couple of confusing corners have been added recently and a rather charming soundscape to tempt you further in. The maze had a lucky escape from Capability Brown’s itch to clear and landscape everything when he was Royal Gardener here in the 1770s.

hever-castle-attractions-mazes-water-maze-1020x599

Hever Castle Water Maze, Kent

Hever Castle has no less than three different types of maze:  a thoroughly traditional Edwardian yew hedge maze; a wooden tower maze for kids in the playground; and, my favourite, a splashy water maze on Sixteen Acre island.  The water maze is really fun, with unexpected water jets and stones that tip you into the pool if you don’t pay attention. Take a towel and take on the challenge to reach the stone grotto in the centre.

Traquaire maze

Traquair House

The largest hedge maze in Scotland is at Traquair House in the Borders. Planted in 1981, it echoes a formal parterre garden which was once behind the house. This cypress and beech maze is particularly complex, but you can direct your children from the terrace which overlooks it.

scone palace maze

Scone Palace

The star shaped maze at Scone Palace in Perthshire also has a high vantage point from a bridge built into the design but you have to find the steps to the bridge first.  The shape comes from the Earl of Mansfield’s family emblem and the colours of the 2000 copper and green beeches from the family tartan.  In the centre, if you can find it, is a statue of the water nymph Arethusa by David Williams-Ellis.

 

somerleyton_mazeVictorians loved a puzzle and you can find another fine yew maze at Somerleyton Hall in Suffolk.  The curved edges are marked out by topiary sentinels in contrasting golden Irish yew.  In the centre is a little pagoda on a knoll allowing you to look back on the path you have followed.  The maze was designed in 1846 by the great 19th century garden designer W A Nesfield for Lord Somerleyton.

leeds castle maze

Leeds Castle, Kent

The maze at Leeds Castle has a real surprise in the centre.  Enter through the square hedge walls and hey presto, the paths are circular and draw you in towards a curving stone wall at the centre.  Wend your way up the slope of the central tower and down into a magical shell grotto that traces the tales of Ovid’s Metamorphoses.  And so through the lighted passages of the grotto back to the perimeter.

Blenheim Palace the Marlborough Maze.jpg

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

The Marlborough Maze at Blenheim Palace has a 25th birthday this year.  This is the second largest hedge maze in the world – you have to go to Hawaii to find a rival.  It takes 6 gardeners a whole week to trim the 3 kilometres of yew hedges.  The design incorporates cannons, banners, flags and trumpets in celebration of the 1st Duke of Marlborough’s military victories plus a V sign as a nod to Blenheim’s other hero, Sir Winston Churchill.

Arley Hall and Gardens in Cheshire planted a hornbeam maze in the Arboretum in 2009 and it is looking grand.  You can catch the views over the tops of the hedges to the countryside beyond and admire the pattern from the wooden fort at the centre.

Arley Gardens Maze

Arley Hall & Gardens, Cheshire

Look out for modern mazes which are great fun for children. The Alnwick Garden, Northumberland, abounds with mazes, The Bamboo Labyrinth encloses you totally in quiet rustling that cuts you off from the outside world while the Serpent Garden uses a hedge maze to guide you through a sparkling series of water sculptures.  Ragley Hall, Warwickshire,  has a 3-D playground maze with wooden walkways, bridges and blocks of passages and the ambitious maze at Riverhill Himalayan Gardens, Kent, based on the patterns found in Tibetan wood carvings has a few years to go to reach full height but lines of post and rails make running through it lots of fun – and you just might spot the famous yeti that lurks here! Newest of all is the maze at Sudeley Castle, built in partnership with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.  The willow boughs hiding willow sculpted characters from the Wind in the Willows.

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens - maze

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens

Mrs Hudson Takes a Seat

I’m off to Wiltshire for the Chalke Valley History Festival this June to hear RufCVHFAdvertus Bird, Deputy Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures (now there’s a lofty title) talk about the furnishings of the royal palaces. That set me thinking about the best places to see fine furniture collections in Britain. So here are some ideas for you in case June isn’t quite a flaming as you hope.

If you think medieval houses didn’t have much in the way of furniture, you might revise your assumptions when you see the furnishings of King Henry II’s keep at Dover Castle in Kent.  The brightly painted beds, stools and chests commissioned by English Heritage may not be authentic but they make this gorgeous medieval space sing and certainly set you thinking.

 

Parham House in Sussex is a Tudor house where you really feel that Queen Elizabeth has just stepped out of the room.  The house has a fine collection of 16th and 17th century oak furniture particularly the court cupboards in the Great Hall which sit well with the portraits, pewter and oak paneling. Tapestried walls, fine 16th century needlework and the sunlit Long Gallery create a convincing atmosphere of Parham’s original 16th century interior.

National Trust Images John Hammond pic1

Ham House, National Trust Images, John Hammond

For the turbulent 17th century, I love the National Trust’s Ham House, Richmond, partly because it is so much the creation of a clever woman – Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Dysart – and partly because it has an unmatched collection of 17th century furniture.  Walnut predominates with baroque swags fine tapestries and japanned chests.

HoughtonBed

Houghton Hall Green State Bed

For rococo extravagance, it’s a toss up between Holkham and Houghton Halls in Norfolk to see William Kent’s furnishings still in situ.  Both have side tables, pier glasses, stools and settees decorated with gilded exuberance but, for me, the ethereally green state bed at Houghton with its massive scallop shell headboard is where I dream of sleeping.

Gallery credit Harewood House Trust

Harewood House Gallery, Harwood House Trust

Things calmed down under the influence of neo-classicism, in furniture as in interiors.  In the 1760s, the newly enriched Lascelles family at Harewood House in Yorkshire invested in talent by commissioning the young Thomas Chippendale to create suites of furniture for the state rooms of their new Palladian house including another unrivaled bed.  He also indulged his love of Chinoiserie with japanned cupboards and hand painted Chinese wallpaper in the East Bedroom.

Thomas Chippendale’s Chinese style appears again in the best collection of 18th century furniture in Scotland at Dumfries House in Ayrshire.  The restored bed in blue damask once stood next to the exquisite breakfront bookcase that is now in the Blue Drawing Room with a matching mahogany suite of chairs and tables. Dumfries was also furnished by Scottish 18th century master furniture makers, Francis Brodie, Alexander Peter and William Mathie.

LeigtonHallMusicRoom

Leighton Hall Music Room

At the end of the 18th century emerged another furniture maker of talent and style, Richard Gillow of Lancaster. The best place to see his work is at his own home Leighton Hall near Carnforth.  The suite of furniture in the dining room in particular, where the chairs are solid enough for visitors to be invited to sit, glows with the warmth of mahogany.

LeightonHallChair

Gillow Chair

Few houses retain the concentrated clutter so typical of high Victorian interiors but it is perfectly preserved at 18 Stafford Terrace, the home of Punch cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne.

You’ve just got time to visit before the house closes for Housekeeping on 20 June until September.  This is a middle class home, stuffed with furniture and fringing, clocks, lamps, prints and bronzes clearly demonstrating the influence of global exploration on the tastes of the day.

To take you into the 20th century don’t miss the Art Deco jewel created within the walls of medieval Eltham Palace by wealthy socialites Stephen and Virginia Courtauld in the 1930s, opened by English Heritage.  Some of the furniture is a recreation but the dining chairs were discovered at Pinewood Studios in 2001 and remarried with the stylish walnut dining table.  This story alone gives you a hint of the theatricality of their taste.

Of course most English interiors have evolved over centuries and mix furnishings from all these periods, that’s really what gives them their charm.  Visiting historic houses is a great way of learning to recognise the key features of different styles and using them to give your interiors something unique.

Mrs Hudson goes Shakespearean

It’s a great year to go all Shakespearean, 400 years since his death.  I had such fun and learned so much at Stratford last year (look here for the full story) so I hope you too get to The Shakespeare Houses this year.

SBT - Tudor Cooking at Mary Arden's Farm

Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust – Cooking at Mary Arden’s Farm

The new visitor experience at Shakespeare’s own house, New Place, opens this July.

But what to do if you can’t get to Stratford?  I thought it might be fun to look at some other ways to get in touch with Shakespeare in other parts of the UK.

First stop, the National Trust’s  Charlecote Park in Warwickshire.  Less than 5 miles from Shakespeare’s front door in Stratford, I can’t resist the legend that finds young Shakespeare being caught poaching deer from Sir Thomas Lucy, who lived here.  Facts are few, beyond the plot of The Merry Wives of Windsor which may lampoon Lucy as Justice Shallow and certainly harps on about deer stealing. The deer, however, have been here since before Shakespeare’s time and today you don’t have to steal them, you can try the venison in the Orangery Restaurant or buy some to take home.  This neo-Elizabethan house of treasures has some early Shakespeare editions as well as several pieces bought after the death of eccentric collector William Beckford of Fonthill.

ComptonVerney

Compton Verney

Another 5 miles into Warwickshire takes you to the doors of Compton Verney, a gracious 18th century house remodelled by Robert Adam and Capability Brown and now an art gallery.  Compton Verney is mad for Shakespeare this year with two major exhibitions, Tempests, Tyrants and Tragedy, which combines paintings, photography and installation with reading from RSC actors and Boydell’s Vision which intriguingly re-imagines The Shakespeare Gallery, a popular 18th century tourist attraction in Pall Mall celebrating the Bard.  There are also talks, walks, games and trails for all the family and a screening of Peter Hall’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (which was filmed at Compton Verney) on 13 May for Museums at Night.

SherborneCastle

Sherborne Castle

Of course, Shakespeare may not have been Shakespeare.  Or so various academics have suggested since the 1840s.  One of the earliest candidates was Sir Walter Raleigh, soldier, adventurer, author, poet and irresistible hero of the Elizabethan age, famous for his mythical exploits with cloaks and puddles as well as the founding of Virginia and his eventual disgrace and beheading.  Raleigh built himself a grand house at Sherborne Castle in Devon in 1594.  It is still there, now owned by the Wingfield-Digby family, and you can sit in Raleigh’s Seat in the gardens to admire the house across the lake and landscape, one of Capability Brown’s earliest commissions. This Seat is where Raleigh is supposed to have had ale thrown over him by a servant who thought he was on fire having stumbled on him smoking tobacco, then a brand new import from the New World.

Perhaps a more convincing candidate was Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford proposed as the author of the plays in the 1920s by the suggestively named J T Looney. Make up your own mind at Hedingham Castle, his home in Suffolk and one of the best preserved Norman keeps in Britain.  De Vere was certainly accomplished and well travelled but was he Shakespeare?  A visit to his home reveals little but is a beautiful place that conjures up the Norman conquest and after all, Elizabeth I is supposed to have visited too.

2016-04-07T151214Z_2116733760_LR2EC471682C3_RTRMADP_3_BRITAIN-SHAKESPEARE-1024x704

First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays in the Library at Mount Stuart

If you are in Scotland and not a Shakespeare sceptic then there are treats in store this year.  In March, the librarian at Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute stumbled a previously unknown First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays.  This collection of his work, compiled and published in 1623 by his colleagues Henry Condell and John Heminge, consists of the earliest known edition of 36 plays.  Although widely distributed, copies are rare and this First Folio is one of only 234 known in the world.  It had belonged to Shakespeare scholar John Reed in the 1780s and was part of the library collected by the 3rd Marquess of Bute at Mount Stuart.  This library consists of over 25,000 volumes and papers, now mostly preserved in the Blue, Red and Purple Libraries. The house is an extraordinary Gothic Revival palace, crammed with the fine art and furnishings collected by generations of the Bute family.

GlamisCastle

Glamis Castle

Shakespeare’s Macbeth lived at Glamis Castle in Tayside and it was there that he brutally murdered Duncan, his rival for the throne of Scotland.  Yes, Macbeth did exist, yes he was King of Scotland, yes, he did kill King Duncan II but in battle not in his bed.  Even if Shakespeare moved the facts around a bit, Glamis is central to the story.  Duncan’s grandfather Malcolm II died here, King Malcolm’s Room has  gorgeous 17th century embroidered hangings’, and a Pictish stone in the grounds today may have been his gravestone. Shakespeare probably heard about Glamis at the court of King James I and VI from Patrick, 9th Lord Glamis who accompanied the King to London in the early 1600s, just the time that Shakespeare was performing plays at court.  His Macbeth is nothing like the real ruler who was a successful King for 17 years, but then Shakespeare wanted to flatter his new royal patron’s Stuart ancestors rather than the line of Macbeth. At Glamis, Duncan’s Hall captures the atmosphere of this ancient place whose thick walls and steep stone stairs remind us that the castle was here as early at Malcolm’s death in 1034.  But above these lower rooms the history of Glamis continued to play out alongside the history of Scotland up to the honeymoon of its most famous recent resident, the Queen Mother, and its current owner, the Earl of Strathmore.

Or of course you could just go to a play.

Mrs Hudson in search of Capability Brown

Picture England – rolling green hills, a glimpse of water, stately trees, a sprinkling of sheep – you’ve just described an 18th century landscape garden designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.  I’m off to celebrate 300 years since his birth striding across landscapes with Walpole the dog firmly on the lead (it’s those sheep, you see).

Let’s start at Croome Park in Worcestershire, C

Croome

Croome

apability Brown’s first major commission in 1751 for his friend and patron, the 6th Earl of Coventry. Brown designed not just the landscape but the house, rotunda and church as well.  The result is a wonderful balance between land, water and buildings gradually emerging from a major restoration programme by the National Trust.  I just can’t decide whether to go for a walk, a lecture or a play performance; all happening at Croome this year.

Autumn scene lake

Blenheim

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire has “the loveliest view in England”.  Capability Brown worked here from 1763 to 1774, turning a canal into a majestic lake and giving the Palace a glorious setting which I’m going to see from the new Trail around the Park, maybe even from a horse-drawn carriage.  The exhibition here will tell me more and I’m dying to see the reconstruction of Capability Brown’s famous machine for moving full grown trees.

At Weston Park in Shropshire, Brown was employed by Sir Henry Bridgeman to createVB21970294
a’modern’ setting for the baroque house he had just inherited.  What he got was a classic Brown landscape, a stream became a lake, avenues became carefully positioned clumps of trees all framing the view of the house and the elegant Temple of Diana (in which you can now stay overnight).  There’s a new exhibition about Brown here every month so I’m spoiled for choice!

 

Harewood House South Front angle.jpg

Harewood House

Harewood House in Yorkshire’s Brown landscape was created over 6 years from 1775, as a setting for the new house built by Robert Adam for wealthy landowner, Edwin Lascelles.  I’ll be there in June for talks and walks and to see the year long exhibition of views of the park by the likes of JMW Turner and Victorian photography pioneer Roger Fenton.

 

Berrington Hall in Herefordshire was Brown’s last landscape where he worked with his architect son-in-law, Henry Holland.  The National Trust are rediscovering it this year with the help of environmental artists, Red Earth, in a series entitled Genius Loci.  This contemporary way of looking at Brown’s legacy sounds really intriguing.

And so to Hampton Court Palace in London, where Brown was Head Gardener to King George III until his death.  The best survivor of Brown’s work here is The Great Vine, planted by Brown in 1768.  It is the largest grape vine in the world and still produces a huge harvest each autumn.  Brown preserved the celebrated royal gardens and The Empress & The Gardener is an exhibition of watercolours of the garden in Brown’s day (Catherine the Great of Russia’s the Empress).

www.capabilitybrown.org.uk

MRS HUDSON’S SECRET PLACES

Make a little effort and you can find some heritage places that are open at Easter but not much at other times of year. Here are a few that are pretty secretive but I wouldn’t want to miss.

Gosford House, East Lothian

Robert Adam’s late masterpiece, Gosford House, home of the Earl of Wemyss is Gosford Housea short drive from central Edinburgh. Adam, our most celebrated neo-classical architect, died before the house was completed about 1800.  The next architect to work there was William Young, commissioned by the 10th Earl in the 1890s. Young’s Marble Hall is unmatched for magnificence, a confident creation in marble and alabaster hung on a steel
skeleton that allows for an overarching glass dome and an expanse of windows. The 10th Earl’s impressive art collection includes works by Murillo, Rubens and Botticelli.  Enjoy the views down to the Forth and the elegant Adam stableblock.

Norton Conyers, North Yorkshire

Norton ConyersThe smart Dutch gables hide a timbered medieval manor house, recently beautifully restored by the Graham family who have lived here since 1624. There are wonderful 18th century paintings including plenty of country gentlemen liberally supplied with horses and dogs. Best of all is the news that the secret stair discovered here during the restoration is certain proof that Charlotte Bronte used Norton Conyers as her model for Thornfield Hall and inspiration for the story of Jane Eyre. She was here in 1839 and the family must have told her the story of the mad woman who was confined to the attics. I can almost hear Mr Rochester calling.

Arbury Hall, Warwickshire

More literary connections at Arbury where novelist George Eliot was born on the estate. You can walk where she walked. But save your energy for the hall itself and its unmatched Strawberry Hill Gothic interior. Sir Roger Newdigate came home from his Grand Tour to Italy in 1742, but he seems to have been unimpressed by Rome (apart from a brief classical flirtation in the chapel), but instead must have popped into Westminster Abbey on the way home because the whole house is filled with soaring fan vaulting, light and airy and exquisitely pointy. George Eliot thought it was “petrified lace”, you might think of royal icing but the whole concoction is so extraordinary you will feel like dancing.

Tissington Hall, Derbyshire

The magic of Tissington is the survival unaltered of a Jacobean manor house at the centre of a village off the main road in its own time warp. The house is sturdy and speaks of the long generations of the Fitzherbert family who live here still. The rooms are unpretentious and filled with a charmingly arranged melange of Stuart and Georgian furniture and portraits. The principal rooms are on the first floor and overlook the village green and its ancient well. At the rear is an Art Nouveau library where the plaster frieze captures the wildness of the Peak District.

Stanford Hall, Leicestershire

This is a perfectly proportioned house built just after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 byStanford Hall William Smith of Warwick for the Cave family who still live here. There is plenty to see, family portraits and a portrait of an aging Bonnie Prince Charlie as well as textiles and tapestries. Best is the cantilevered staircase in the light and airy central staircase hall which carries your eye through tiers of Stuart portraits. Or the Baroque Ballroom, where the trompe l’oeil scenes of tumbling classical deities on the ceiling have recently been restored to glory.

Whittington Court, Gloucestershire

Whittington Court.jpgThere was a house here before the Elizabethan manor that survives today and the group of house, church and barn feel peaceful and unchanging. Inside, the highlights are the rump of the Elizabethan Great Hall, the fine carved oak Charles I staircase and two overmantels from a contemporary house, one of which sports the Washington Arms – the earliest form of the stars and stripes and always a find for Americans.

Cobham Hall, Kent

Here is one of England’s great Elizabethan houses now a school. Elizabeth I stayed here, in fact the present house was conceived because she was not impressed, and Charles I spent his honeymoon night here. The house is brick with long parallel wings ending in turreted towers. Under the Georges, the house belonged to the Earls of Darnley who turned it into a largely Baroque house without changing the layout. The interiors are remarkable, gilded Baroque plasterwork, the Darnley art collection still on the walls, and magnificent surviving fireplaces so you can sometimes overlook the schooly atmosphere. Don’t miss the grounds where the first recorded cricket match took place in 1776 and the Darnley Mausoleum, restored by the National Trust.

Cornwall House, Monmouth

A deliciously pretty Georgian town house in the centre of historic Monmouth, open over Easter weekend. Originally a brick house in Queen Anne style, the street front was updated in the mid-18th century and it has been divided many times in its history; you’ll find the local newspaper currently in half. The bones of the well-proportioned interior survive with a handsome staircase and fireplaces. It’s fun to peek inside a private house like this and learn a bit of its history.

Cobham Hall

Hudson’s Heritage Awards 2016

Hudson's HA 2016 Landscape Logo 600pix

Tuesday 1st march 2016 marked the annual Hudson’s Heritage Awards; a great time was had by all and we thank everyone for their participation. Below are the winners and highly commended:

Best Accommodation

Winner: Frampton Court Estate
Highly Commended: Bruisyard Hall
Special Judges Award: The Churches Conservation Trust

 

 

Best Eating Out

Winner: Waddesdon Manor
Highly Commended: Glansevern Hall Gardens

 

 

Best Event/Exhibition sponsered by Ecclesiastical

Winner: Dunham Massey
Highly Commended: Houghton Hall

 

 

Best Family Day Out

Winner: Newby Hall
Highly Commended: Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust

 

 

Best Hidden Gem sponsored by Smith & Williamson

Winner: Blenheim Palace
Highly Commended: Keats House

 

 

 

Best Innovation

Winner: Blenheim Palace
Highly Commended: Croome
Special Judges Award: Woburn Abbey & Gardens

 

 

Best Loos

Winner: Lowther Castle
Highly Commended: The Alnwick Garden

 

 

Best New Discovery

Winner: Bletchley Park
Highly Commended: The Judge’s Lodging

 

 

Best Shopping sponsored by Jarrold Publishing

Winner: The Harley Gallery
Highly Commended: Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts Centre

 

 

Best Wedding Venue

Winner: Combermere Abbey
Highly Commended: Chiddingstone Castle

 

 

Best Picnic Spot as nominated by the public, sponsored by Fortum & Mason

Winner: Clearburn, New Lanark

 

 

Signpost

Best Leisure and Spa Hotel: The Coniston Hotel, Country Estate and Spa
Best Hotel: Dart Marina
Best Dining Experience: Langar Hall