Just a few miles south east of Exeter is the National Trust property, A la Ronde. The house was built in the 1790′s by Jane and Mary Parminter. The two ladies , cousins, had a real sprit of adventure, and I’m sure if they were alive today they would be trekking the Sahara or leading expeditions to the polar regions.
They lived at A la Ronde for fifty years, filling it with things they had collected on their Grand Tour.
Although the name implies that the house is round , it actually has sixteen sides, it’s unique design takes advantage of natural light as the sun moves around through the day. The lower level that you see above is used as the restaurant by the National Trust, the diamond shaped windows are the ground floor. At the centre of the house is an area that rises to the top floor gallery with doors all around it.
It’s really difficult to take photos inside, flash is not allowed, and I’m too lazy to use a tripod. The answer is a very wide angle lens, patience with many other visitors and a steady hand. But here are a few interior shots.
The ladies had several passions that filled their days, embroidery, shells and feathers to name just a few. The drawing room has been hand decorated by them with a feather frieze all around the room.
The feathers come from chickens, game birds and even parrots and have been applied with isinglass.
When I last went to A la Ronde thirty years ago, it was a private group visit and I didn’t really appreciate it. I did get to see the highlight of the house, the famous shell gallery. It’s closed now to preserve it for the future. With the help of well placed mirrors, you can get a tiny peep at it from the floor below, and this is my shot from the central room on the ground floor.
I asked one of the volunteers if she had been allowed up there and even they aren’t. So the photos below are of photos on display so that visitors can get an idea what it’s like. What is it like? beautiful, bizarre, indescribable. To think that these women spent probably years creating this.
So that’s A la Ronde, maybe one day you’ll visit if you’re in Devon, I promise you it’s like nowhere else anywhere!
My earlier post of the outside of the house, http://lucidgypsy.wordpress.com/2013/11/19/red-bricks-and-funky-windows-the-charm-of-a-la-ronde/