Monday, 4 January 2021

NATIONAL TRUST

A SUMMARY  OF SOME NATIONAL TRUST PROPERTIES




IGHTHAM MOTE



Ightham Mote, near Sevenoaks in Kent, is without doubt one of the best examples of a Tudor Manor House in England. It really does have it all, from medieval moat to a Victorian gentleman's billiard room. There is also the crypt of a medieval knight and the painted ceiling of a Tudor courtier. All of this comes with an American's take on an English country home.

The grounds are a delight and include beautiful gardens, featuring tranquil lakes, an orchard and many beautiful and generously stocked flower borders. There are some steep inclines to navigate so the less able bodied should contact the information desk prior to their visit to assess suitability.

Coaches are welcome, with parking just 200 yards from the main entrance. Suggested time needed to explore this site is around two hours, and guided tours are available. There is a licensed restaurant and a shop selling all manner of interesting gifts.





SUTTON HOO



Overlooking the river Deben in Suffolk, this impressive Anglo-Saxon burial ground was excavated in 1939. One of the biggest and most exciting finds was that of a burial ship measuring 89 feet in length. The ship had lain undisturbed for over 1,300 years. Also discovered was a hoard of richly ornamented weapons, utensils, and jewellery. The site was handed over to the National trust in 1998.





Besides the burial mounds and museum, there is also beautiful country walks around the extensive estate. Tranmer House makes for an interesting visit, being furnished in the fashion of the 1930s. Visitors will also find a shop and a café For those visitors wishing to spend a little more time visiting the area, there is also three holiday apartments for rent.
 
 



MELFORD HALL
 
 


Opposite the Green in Long Melford, Suffolk, Melford Hall is still home to the Hyde-Parker family. Visitors will be enthralled by this magnificent building, and intrigued by its fascinating history. Surprisingly, although not evident today, a large part of the building was destroyed by fire in the 1940s.
 
 


The property is home to some very interesting artefacts, including Beatrix Potter sketches, family photographs, a collection of Naval paintings and Chinese porcelain, and the original Jemima Puddle-Duck toy.



The Hall is set in beautiful grounds, with landscaped gardens which are well worth a walk around. There is also a splendid tearoom serving snacks and cakes, with a variety of hot and cold drinks.





ICKWORTH




Nestled in the Suffolk countryside, not far from Bury St Edmunds, stands Ickworth. A substantial building featuring an 18th century Rotunda, commissioned by the 4th Earl of Bristol to house his collection of priceless treasures, acquired during his tours of Europe.

This collection was added to, over the following 200 years, by the Hervey family, who also created the earliest example of Italianate gardens in England. Portraits of the family by Gainsborough, Hogarth and Reynolds adorn the walls.

Visitors can enjoy walks around the extensive grounds and gardens, as well as experiencing the lives of 1930s domestic servants in the restored servants basement.

There is a gift shop as well as a licensed restaurant in the West Wing, and a café serving snacks and drinks in the Porters Lodge, near the car park. Ample parking is available in the main car park and coaches are welcome. There is a golf buggy service from the car park to the West Wing during the main season.


BELTON HOUSE


 
Built in the 1680s for Sir John Brownlow, Belton House is a very classic English country house. The house sits within the splendour of the beautiful formal Italian and Dutch gardens, and if the gardens themselves are not enough to keep you occupied outdoors, there is also an impressive 1,300 acre Deer park.

Belton House is steeped in history, there are links to the abdication of King Edward VIII, as well as being the base for The Machine Gun Corps during the first world war. The house itself is a delight to visit and I would highly recommend the Basement tour. This tour offers a fascinating glimpse into the daily lives and living conditions of the servants who ran the house. There are various events throughout the year including open air theatre and cinema, with special Halloween and Christmas programs.


The house is open Wednesday to Sunday between March and October, and basement tours operate daily all year round. The gardens and cafe are open daily from 9:30am to 5:30pm. Entry to the house and gardens is £13.10 for adults and £8.40 per child. To visit the grounds only, will cost £10.30 for an adult and £7.00 for a child.

For full details on all up to date pricing and current opening times please visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/beltonhouse


Facilities at Belton House include a restaurant, cafe, children's play area, second hand book shop, gift shop and garden shop. There is also ample free parking. Belton House is located near Grantham in Lincolnshire on the A607. The postcode for Sat Navs is: NG32 2LS.

LAVENHAM GUILDHALL

 


Located in the beautiful and extremely popular village of Lavenham in Suffolk, Lavenham Guildhall is a hidden treasure. Known as the Guildhall of Corpus Christi, it is a remarkably well preserved timber framed Tudor building. With 500 years of history this building has more than a few stories to tell, and the friendly, helpful staff at Lavenham Guildhall are more than happy to share some of these stories with you. There is even the opportunity for visitors to dress up in a replica period costume.

More recently, the Guildhall and Lavenham have found fame among cinema goers, both young and old, by being featured in the Harry Potter films. Many visitors are drawn to Lavenham to see the film location of the fictional town of Godric's Hollow, the birthplace of Harry Potter.


Facilities on-site include a well stocked gift shop, and a very nice tea room serving hot and cold food and drinks. There is a small courtyard garden which features a 'lock up' from the days when the Guildhall was used as a prison, and an old wooden fire engine.


The Guildhall is open from 11am to 5pm and entry costs £6.20 for adults and £3.10 for children.
For full details on all up to date prices and current  opening times please visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lavenham-guildhall

Located just seven miles from Sudbury, the postcode for Sat Navs is: CO10 9QZ. Free parking is available in Market Square or any of the surrounding roads where parking is permitted.

BOURNE MILL



Located on the outskirts of Colchester, England's oldest recorded town, Bourne Mill is a magnificent example of a working watermill. Not that this building has always been a mill, it was originally an Elizabethan fishing lodge.

Built in 1591 by Sir Thomas Lucas, it was a place for entertaining his wealthy friends. Over the years it has also served as a working corn mill, as well as producing woolen cloth.


Visitors are able to see the watermill in action and enjoy listening to the rhythmic sound of its workings, with all its creaking and rumbling. Outside, visitors can enjoy relaxing by the beautiful, tranquil lake, whilst admiring the scenery and wildlife. Perhaps, even take a walk along the wetlands and maybe enjoy a little pond dipping.

 
The mill and grounds are open March to October and cost £3.75 for adults and £1.90 for children.
 For full details on all up to date opening times and current prices please visit:  www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bourne-mill


Located on Bourne Road Colchester. Limited Free parking is available on-site. The postcode for Sat Navs is: CO2 8RT



CHARTWELL




This is somewhere that had been on my wish to visit list for sometime. As a great fan of Sir Winston Churchill, I was delighted to finally get to visit his old family home. Chartwell was Churchill's beloved home from 1922, it is a lovely, characterful building, with many rooms left just as they were when he and his family lived there. For art fans, there is a wonderful collection of Churchill's art work, a varied and impressive display adorning the walls of his old studio. It was a delight to view so many pieces of art and learn about how, in his 40's, his passion for painting grew from his cousins encouragement for him to take up painting as a way of combatting his depression.





The grounds at Chartwell are beautifully laid out and feature lakes which were designed and created by Churchill himself. There is a restaurant and a shop on-site, as well as a good sized car park. The gardens are open from 10am to 5pm and the house from 11am to 5pm, although the house does close during the winter months, so please check the website for up to date information. Entry to the house and gardens is £16 for adults and £8 for children (including gift aid). Entry to the garden and studio only is £8 and £4. Located in Westerham, Kent, the postcode for directions is TN16 1PS.

ICKWORTH



This was actually my second visit to Ickworth. Unfortunately, on my first visit, a few years ago, the house was closed and I only got to look around the gardens and parkland. Ickworth is a Georgian house with Italianate influences. Commissioned by the 4th Earl of Bristol in the 18th century, Ickworth is set in beautiful gardens and extensive parklands, and surrounded by the magnificent English landscape.



As I had explored the grounds extensively on my previous visit, I was happy, on this occasion, to spend my time looking around this splendid house. I especially enjoyed visiting the restored servants basement which gave a fascinating insight into what life was like 'below stairs' in the 1930s.

 

 

During the winter months, entry to the house is limited, but usual opening times are from 11am to 5pm, with the gardens open from 9am to 5.30pm. Entry to house and gardens cost £15 for adults and £7.50 for children (inclusive of gift aid). Entry to gardens only costs £9 and £4.50. There is a restaurant and a cafe, ample parking, a gift shop and garden shop where a good array of plants and shrubs and garden accessories can be purchased. Located close to Bury St Edmunds, the post code is IP29 5QE.


GRANGE BARN




Located just outside Coggeshall in Essex, Grange Barn is a wonderfully, characterful 13th century monastic barn, reported to be one of Europe's oldest timber framed buildings. Within the barn and outbuildings, visitors can view a good collection of very interesting woodcarving tools and old agricultural carts.


There is no cafe on site, but there are toilet facilities. The barn is closed during the winter, opening again mid march. Opening times are 11am to 4pm. Entry is £7.50 for adults and £3.75 for children, these prices include entry to nearby Paycocke's House and Garden. The post code for directions is CO16 1RE.

PAYCOCKE'S HOUSE & GARDEN



Within walking distance of Grange Barn, sits Paycocke's House, a delightful Tudor Merchants house. Built around 1500 for Thomas Paycocke, the house has a fascinating history and is a remarkable example of a Tudor building. The secluded, elongated garden, hidden away at the back of the house, is compact but very peaceful, so much so, it is easy to forget you are in a town setting and not some rural location. Refreshments can be purchased in the small cafe located within the house, and a gift shop and toilet facilities can also be found on site. As with Grange Barn, Paycocke's is closed during the winter months. However, normal opening times are 11am to 5pm. The post code is CO16 1NS

Whenever I am travelling within the UK, I will always look out to see what National Trust properties are in the area I am visiting. It was no different when in April I found myself spending a few days on a road trip which took in the beautiful county of Norfolk. I was very happy to find that there were two very substantial National Trust properties for me to visit within a short distance of where I was staying.
 
FELBRIGG HALL

 

 
The first of these was Felbrigg Hall, a magnificent house with some beautiful stained glass windows dating back to the 15th century. Set in 520 acres of wonderful parkland and woods, Felbrigg Hall is an absolute delight, and even comes complete with a herd of very friendly, inquisitive cows which came to greet me and pose for some photos. Close to the famous seaside town of Cromer, Felbrigg Hall is easily accessible and provides ample parking along with a garden shop, gift shop, cafe and toilet facilities. The parkland is open from dawn to dusk, but as opening times for the house vary, please check the National Trust website prior to your visit.


 

Post code for Sat Navs: NR11 8PR


BLICKLING ESTATE
 
 
 
 
The second property visited on this trip was Blickling Estate, an incredibly well preserved Jacobean mansion with a very impressive 18th century long gallery. Visitors, with an interest in books, will be extremely impressed with the marvellous, inspiring library, housing over 12,500 volumes.




Surrounded by a formal garden, the house is a joy to visit, and with the gardens leading onto undulating parkland, the opportunity to wander free is there for all. There is the obligatory gift shop for all those delightful little purchases, 3 very tempting cafes to tend to your culinary requirements, a garden shop and a very interesting second hand book shop.

For entrance charges and opening times please refer to the National Trust website.
Located in Aylsham, the post code for Sat Nav directions is: NR11 6NF

HADRIAN'S WALL & HOUSESTEADS FORT


One of the lifetime ambitions that I mentioned in my foreword, was to visit Hadrian's Wall. I have travelled to the north of England on many occasions, even venturing over the border into Scotland at least half a dozen times. However, for whatever reasons, I have never managed to find the time to visit Hadrian's Wall or any of the many forts and towers that are scattered along the way. The scale of the wall is very impressive, and it is both the scale and the amazing history that has always appealed to me, and fired up my imagination. So, in July I found myself setting off on yet another road trip, this time taking in all four corners of the UK. I was determined, on this occasion, to finally take the time to visit this very famous and historic wall.



I was heading to the Dumfries area of Scotland and had planned a route that would allow me to view both the wall and an old Roman fort, with a diversion of approximately sixty miles. The part of the wall that I had selected for my visit was near Housesteads Fort, a remarkably well maintained Roman fort, cared for by the National Trust. Close to the town of Hexham in Northumberland, the site was easy to locate using the NE47 6NN postcode provided by the National Trust on their website.




There is a charge to use the car park as it is not run by the National trust, but this is only a few pounds, and the car park provides ample parking. There is a small visitor centre with a gift shop, toilet facilities and a cafe area. From the visitor centre it is a ten minute walk to the site of the fort, and just a little further beyond the fort is Hadrian's Wall.
 


Unfortunately, due to time restraints, my time at Hadrian's Wall and Housesteads fort was shorter than I would have liked. Nonetheless, my visit was most enjoyable and I even managed a short walk along the top of the wall. The views were amazing, and even though the weather was somewhat inclement (typical British summer!), it did not dampen my enthusiasm, or, evidently, that of other visitors, with many people walking along the wall and visiting the fort.

I left Houseteads fort very pleased that I had made that sixty mile diversion. Both the wall and the fort far surpassed my expectations, and I would urge anybody with an interest in history, or even just a love of the beautiful British countryside, to pay this historically rich and extremely interesting site a visit, you won't be sorry you did.



THE GIANT'S CAUSEWAY





Following on from my visit to Hadrian's Wall, I spent a few days in Scotland before travelling by ferry across the Irish Sea to Belfast. It was to be in Northern Ireland that I would fulfil another of my lifelong ambitions, to visit The Giant's Causeway!

The Giant's Causeway is located just a few miles north east of the town of Bushmill in County Antrim. Bushmill is famous for its whiskey as well as being the gateway to the causeway. Having seen countless documentaries over the years about these incredible Basalt columns, and having heard the stories surrounding their formation, I was excited and intrigued to finally get to see and touch them, for myself.



Formed by ancient volcanic eruptions between 50 and 60 million years ago, the causeway is made up of some 40,000 interlocking columns. Unesco declared it a world heritage site in 1986, and in 2005 it was named as the 4th greatest natural wonder in the UK by a Radio Times poll.

The columns form stepping stones leading from the cliff out to sea, and it is these stepping stones which led to the stories of two battling giants. Most of the columns are hexagonal and the tallest of these is a very impressive 12 metres high!

On arrival at the site, visitors will find ample car parking close to the visitor centre. It is then a downhill walk of approximately 20 minutes from the visitor centre to the causeway. However, a shuttle bus is provided, at a small charge, for both disabled visitors and those preferring not to walk. There is a coffee shop, gift shop, bureau de change, and toilet facilities within the visitor centre.


 
Although a very popular tourist destination, the site did not appear overcrowded on my visit, and as the coast and the coast path is open from dawn to dusk, there is ample time and opportunity for all to view and even stand on this historic site. I spent some time exploring the fascinating columns and sitting amongst them, gazing out to sea, and understanding perfectly just how the mythical tale of the brawling giants came about. The sun was setting as I left to continue my journey, and this stunning, picturesque scene made the moment seem even more magical. It was an experience that I will never forget!

I can't believe that it's that time of year again when I look back at the National Trust properties that I have visited in the previous year. Where has that year gone?

I started 2019 with a trip to the south coast of England and as usual I looked for National Trust properties that I could visit during my travels. It was a cold, wet and windy February when I made the trip, but thankfully on the days that I visited two of the National Trust's wonderful properties, the wind and rain held off long enough for me to enjoy two very pleasant visits.

NYMANS



My first stop was at Nymans, one of the National Trust's premier gardens. These are beautiful and extensive late 19th century gardens, located just east of the village of Handcross in West Sussex. I could very happily have spent much longer here than I did, and would have done so, had it not been for the inclement weather. The house, which was sadly destroyed by fire in 1947, and gardens were owned by the Messel family until the National Trust took over in 1953. Although in ruins, the house still dominates the garden and is a prominent and imposing feature in its own right.

WAKEHURST PLACE



My second visit on this trip was to Wakehurst Place, close to Haywards Heath, and not a million miles away from Nymans. Wakehurst is the country Estate of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. There are very interesting gardens to be found here and delightful wetland, woodland and nature reserve. But what sets Wakehurst apart from other country estates is the amazing seed collection housed in The Millennium Seed Bank, the largest seed collection in the world. There is some very impressive and important work being carried out here, and the displays are fascinating and very informative.

March turned out to be somewhat disappointing. Whilst in the Barking area of London, I had hoped to visit at least one National Trust property. However, on the designated day of my visit, none were open, which just illustrates the importance of forward planning! I did, however, get to look around the gardens of Eastbury Manor, although officially closed for a private function, the gentleman in charge very kindly allowed my wife and I to view the gardens, but not the Manor on this occasion. Eastbury Manor is an Elizabethan Gentry house built by Clement Sysley and is a magnificent building. The gardens, although small, are delightful and very peaceful. I look forward to returning to explore Eastbury Manor more fully in the near future.

SHAW'S CORNER



May saw me visiting the Luton and Bedford area. Just a few miles from the hustle and bustle of a vibrant Luton, sits the modest and pleasingly tranquil Shaw's Corner. Situated in Ayot St Lawrence, Shaw's Corner was the rural home of George Bernard Shaw. A very evocative place to visit, with much of interest, particularly to readers of Shaw's works. The house remains very much as it was in Shaw's day, and the small but very interesting garden still houses Shaw's writing hut, which can be found in a delightful, peaceful, secluded and thought provoking spot among the trees at the bottom of the garden.

WILLINGTON DOVECOTE & STABLES



My second visit on this trip was to Willington Dovecote and Stables, close to Bedford. These are perfectly preserved examples of 16th century workmanship, with the Dovecote very much still in use. John Gostwick had these built, along with the nearby church, as part of his large Tudor estate. It is likely that some of the building materials came from old monastic sites. There is ample parking on the site, and it is a lovely, quiet, picturesque setting for a picnic.

The National Trust is a fantastic organisation, looking after these historic buildings and gardens and ensuring they are there for future generations to enjoy. I urge readers of this blog to join if they can, or at least try to visit one or two of these wonderful properties. They make for a wonderful day out and you won't be disappointed.
For more details, visit the National Trust website at www.nationaltrust.org.uk








 






Wednesday, 27 May 2020

COVID CHRONICLES

LOCK DOWN


I am leaving my house for the first time in over a month. My wife and I have been self isolating, dependant on spasmodic home deliveries for essential shopping, searching online daily for a delivery slot with one of the many online supermarkets. It will be some time before we feel confident that it is safe enough to shop in the real world again.

I've decided to take the car for a run as it's been sitting idle on my driveway for over a month and I worry that the battery will go flat, and the car will not start when it is needed.

I slide into the drivers seat and turn the key, the engine starts first time, I put the car into gear, ease off the clutch and press down on the accelerator and there's a jolt as the brakes, which have been in the applied position for all these weeks, reluctantly loosen their grip on the wheels and the car moves forward. The car seems none the worse for its idleness as I edge out onto the open road.

The sense of freedom is incredible. Who would have thought that something as simple as driving a car could bring such pleasure. My route is a round trip of 22 miles, through villages and towns, and will take 50 minutes, enough time, I hope, to charge the battery and ensure the car will be ready if needed.

I'm surprised at how many vehicles are on the roads, I wasn't expecting it to be so busy. There are more pedestrians out as well, many of them with dogs. People appear to be trying to distance themselves from other walkers, although I do see some not adhering to the 2 metre rule. Driving through the town, I notice many shuttered shops. However, at some of the shops that are open, shoppers are not always adhering to social distancing, with shoppers passing each other in the doorways as they enter or leave the premises. The queue snaking along the pavement outside the bank is a pretty mixed bag, with some adhering to the rules whilst others are blatantly flouting them.

Returning home, I am glad I've taken the car for a run, for the car's and my own well-being, but I have no desire to venture out again anytime soon. Although I miss my social life, I feel safer at home.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

COVID 19 AND TRAVEL

A note from the author:
Since writing the article on Oberammergau Passion Play 2020, I have found out that the passion play has now been postponed until 2022, due to the Coronavirus outbreak. I have not yet been informed by Leger, the tour operator who organised the trip, what they intend to do about it, or if I will get a refund!

OBERAMMERGAU PASSION PLAY 2020


Nestling against the banks of the Ammer River in the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Southern Bavaria, is the beautiful German town of Oberammergau. Famed for its woodcarvers and woodcarvings, this small town of around 5,000 inhabitants has also found worldwide fame for another reason.

During the early part of the 17th century, this part of Europe was gripped in the clutches of a deathly epidemic, Bubonic plague was ravaging the area. Untreated, this devastating disease can kill anywhere between 30% and 90% of those infected, even with treatment it can claim approximately 10% of sufferers.

Facing these horrendous odds of survival, the townsfolk of Oberammergau prayed to God, pleading with him to spare them from this terrifying illness. They made a vow to God that if their town was spared from the plague, they would perform a passion play once every ten years as a means of thanks.

The story goes, that having made their vow, there were no more deaths in the town, and no more new cases of the plague. The townsfolk, being true to their word, staged the first passion play in 1634, and then every ten years thereafter, in years ending in a zero. The only exceptions to this rule was in 1920, when it was postponed until 1922 due to postwar economic conditions, and 1940 when the play was cancelled due to the second world war. There have also been additional plays in 1934 and 1984 to commemorate the 300th and 350th anniversaries.

The play involves over 2,000 actors, singers, instrumentalists and technicians, all of whom must be residents of the town. For a year prior to the performance, the male actors grow their hair and beards in order that it will look authentic. Rehearsals are also performed during this period, and most of the town is involved in one way or another. The play is performed from mid May to early October, with around half a million visitors from all over the world descending on this tiny Bavarian town to witness these spectacular performances every decade.

How ironic that the 2020 performance should be overshadowed by the global pandemic that is Covid 19. This devastating new Corona virus, which is fast sweeping the world, has the ability to cause immense economic damage and lead to the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives. This brings me to a personal note, having wished to attend the passion play for many years, my wife and I finally made the decision, last August, to book our seats for the final play of 2020. At that time no-one had even heard of Covid 19, it didn't exist, and nobody could have predicted the events of 2020.

So what happens now? Will the passion play go ahead? If it does, is it safe to go? So many questions and so few answers. We are in unprecedented times, the future is uncertain and not even the experts have all the answers. However, as a race we will get through this, we always do.

I am sure the townsfolk of Oberammergau are once again praying to God to be spared from this latest plague, let us all pray that their prayers are answered, for us all.


Friday, 24 January 2020

NATIONAL TRUST


National Trust Properties 2019

I can't believe that it's that time of year again when I look back at the National Trust properties that I have visited in the previous year. Where has that year gone?

I started 2019 with a trip to the south coast of England and as usual I looked for National Trust properties that I could visit during my travels. It was a cold, wet and windy February when I made the trip, but thankfully on the days that I visited two of the National Trust's wonderful properties, the wind and rain held off long enough for me to enjoy two very pleasant visits.

NYMANS



My first stop was at Nymans, one of the National Trust's premier gardens. These are beautiful and extensive late 19th century gardens, located just east of the village of Handcross in West Sussex. I could very happily have spent much longer here than I did, and would have done so, had it not been for the inclement weather. The house, which was sadly destroyed by fire in 1947, and gardens were owned by the Messel family until the National Trust took over in 1953. Although in ruins, the house still dominates the garden and is a prominent and imposing feature in its own right.

WAKEHURST PLACE



My second visit on this trip was to Wakehurst Place, close to Haywards Heath, and not a million miles away from Nymans. Wakehurst is the country Estate of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. There are very interesting gardens to be found here and delightful wetland, woodland and nature reserve. But what sets Wakehurst apart from other country estates is the amazing seed collection housed in The Millennium Seed Bank, the largest seed collection in the world. There is some very impressive and important work being carried out here, and the displays are fascinating and very informative.

March turned out to be somewhat disappointing. Whilst in the Barking area of London, I had hoped to visit at least one National Trust property. However, on the designated day of my visit, none were open, which just illustrates the importance of forward planning! I did, however, get to look around the gardens of Eastbury Manor, although officially closed for a private function, the gentleman in charge very kindly allowed my wife and I to view the gardens, but not the Manor on this occasion. Eastbury Manor is an Elizabethan Gentry house built by Clement Sysley and is a magnificent building. The gardens, although small, are delightful and very peaceful. I look forward to returning to explore Eastbury Manor more fully in the near future.

SHAW'S CORNER



May saw me visiting the Luton and Bedford area. Just a few miles from the hustle and bustle of a vibrant Luton, sits the modest and pleasingly tranquil Shaw's Corner. Situated in Ayot St Lawrence, Shaw's Corner was the rural home of George Bernard Shaw. A very evocative place to visit, with much of interest, particularly to readers of Shaw's works. The house remains very much as it was in Shaw's day, and the small but very interesting garden still houses Shaw's writing hut, which can be found in a delightful, peaceful, secluded and thought provoking spot among the trees at the bottom of the garden.

WILLINGTON DOVECOTE & STABLES



My second visit on this trip was to Willington Dovecote and Stables, close to Bedford. These are perfectly preserved examples of 16th century workmanship, with the Dovecote very much still in use. John Gostwick had these built, along with the nearby church, as part of his large Tudor estate. It is likely that some of the building materials came from old monastic sites. There is ample parking on the site, and it is a lovely, quiet, picturesque setting for a picnic.

The National Trust is a fantastic organisation, looking after these historic buildings and gardens and ensuring they are there for future generations to enjoy. I urge readers of this blog to join if they can, or at least try to visit one or two of these wonderful properties. They make for a wonderful day out and you won't be disappointed.
For more details, visit the National Trust website at www.nationaltrust.org.uk


I can't wait to see what other National Trust delights 2020 will have in store for me.