I popped down to A La Ronde, a little National Trust property that overlooks the Exe estuary, a few weeks ago. It was one of those beautiful autumn days that I add to my memory store, to help me throught the winter. A La Ronde was built in the 18th century and isn’t actually round – it has sixteen sides! Those of you who love windows would fall for it, they are a delight. I hope this photo is legible, read a little of its history.
And here is some of the exterior, click on any photo for a better view.
The Old Laundry
I’ll be back sometime with some inside shots, the Parminter ladies had some bizarre design ideas and quirky collections. Meanwhile here is the outside of the house, just before the painting was finished.
Last week my daughter took me to Bishop’s Waltham, a village a few miles from her home in Hampshire to see the ruins of its medieval palace. The buildings are full of atmosphere and set in lovely grounds.
This is the great hall, imagine how magnificent it would have been.
The buttery, pantry and servery, rebuilt in 1387-90 by Wykeham.
Intriguing little peepways, including narrow ones for arrows. I’d like to know what the curve shape is about in the second photo.
The Bishop’s tower, where he had his private apartments.
I loved the shape here and the feel of the stone, each one laid by some secret hand from long ago.
The bakehouse and brewhouse, my favourite part, I think because of the chimney breast, again marvelous stonework with different bits added and repaired over time.
This palace was mainly constructed by William Wykeham who was bishop from 1367. It has earlier history though, with important royal visitors, King Henry 11 visited in 1182 and Richard the Lionheart in 1194. Henry V prepared for the battle of Agincourt here and Queen Mary 1 waited for King Philip of Spain to arrive for thier marriage in 1554. Imagine the ghosts!
English Heritage look after the site and its free to visit all through the summer.
See what a wonderful family picnic spot the palace is! http://sugarandspiceandallthingslife.com/2013/09/02/a-family-picnic-at-the-palace/
. . . and some of the views from it!
The theatre was built by the Greeks and then re-built by the Romans, on the side of a hill overlooking Giardini-Naxos and Mount Etna. Originally it could seat 5000 and the Romans used it for gladiator battles, today it is still in use. We had just missed a film festival and the throne in the photo was for the next production, Verdi’s Rigoletto. I can imagine that it would be mind blowing in this setting. Apparently Plato conceived his theory of forms in the amphitheatre, and it does have a feel about it that somehow grabs at the belly.
Sicily is full of antiquities, but if you go, visit Taormina and the theatre that is part of its ancient heart.
A few weeks ago I did a series of posts about Buckland Abbey , but I left out it’s most famous owner, Sir Francis Drake.
Buckland was paid for with Drake’s earnings – or plundering on his early voyages. The treasures he brought home to Queen Elizabeth 1 provided him with wealth and his title. Even though he had no children his heirs lived at Buckland for eight generations, until the 1940′s.
The most famous anecdote is of how he supposedly continued a game of bowls on Plymouth Hoe, saying that their was plenty of time to deal with the approaching Spanish Armada afterwards.
Artifacts relating to his journeys can be seen at Buckland, the most important being a late 16th century drum, decorated with Drake’s coat of arms, one of the oldest surviving in Europe, and possibly one of thirteen bought in 1595 for his last voyage. The drum is said to beat if England is in danger, most recently during the Second World War just before Dunkirk was evacuated, spooky eh?
In 1596, as he lay dying of dysentery, he is reputed to have asked to be dressed in his full armor. He was buried at sea in a lead coffin, near Portobelo. Here are a few of Bucklands Drake treasures.
Sir Francis is the knight in this chess set.
Plotting his course.
Across the oceans.
A beautiful golden miniature.
The drum, lets hope it doesn’t sound.
A scaled replica.
The man himself.
Drakes Coat of Arms.
As you know I was captivated by Buckland Abbey. It isn’t the most grand of National Trust houses but for me it is an interesting one, packed with history and little surprises. Here are a few of the things I enjoyed.
I know, it’s just a chair leg, but imagine all the ankles that have brushed against it.
Time flies indeed.
I loved the little incense boat.
A 17th century sea chest.
A model of the Golden Hind.
This chess set has Lord Burghley as King, Queen Elizabeth as Queen and Sir Francis Drake as the Knight. Each of the Pawns is a miniature Golden Hind.
Hand crafted gentleman’s attire
A lovely gown made by the Costume Group
Sir Francis and his good wife
The collar detail
And lastly, the lady from my poem last week. She was very knowledgeable and when I admired her hat, she told me that Elizabeth 1st ruled that all ladies should wear woollen hats. This apparently was to help promote the growth of the woollen trade.
I have just been inspired by a TV program to show you three books that I tried to photograph at Buckland Abbey last week. The program, The Century that Wrote Itself, sets out to trace ‘our modern sense of self back to when ordinary people first took up the quill’. These books were not written by ordinary people, but one at least would have been written with a quill.
This one is my favourite and its the oldest, a medieval Antiphonal from Italy in the late 14th century. An Antiphonal is a winter choir book giving the sung parts of the service for each day from the first Sunday of Advent to the feast of Pentecost.
Hampered by not being able to use flash I’m afraid!
A Fireplace since 1576!
The hob, each area a different temperature
A bored volunteer making sure we didn’t pinch the artifacts!
A room with a view
The Georgian dining room
Buckland abbey was founded in 1278 by Cistercian monks on land overlooking the tranquil Tavy valley. The monks were responsible for building the great barn, an impressive building which would have been a treasure store of produce grown on the large estate given to them by the then Countess of Devon, Amicia.
The abbey thrived for two hundred and fifty years until the dissolution of monasteries by Henry 8th and in 1541 the monarch sold Buckland to Sir Richard Grenville who converted it into a home, tearing much of it down, but unusually for the time the church was kept to become the main part of the house. Here is the great barn.
It’s far bigger than it looks on the outside!
Towards the entrance
Small shafts of light.
Huge doors were built to allow carts to drive in at one and out at another so that goods and produce could be unloaded in shelter.
The far end.
Wooden vaulting, the exterior would have been thatch.
The barn’s vast interior
An ancient apple press
I’ll be back tomorrow with some photos of the garden.