Canning Oak at Cliveden

Canning Oak

The National Trust information board tells us

“If you had been standing here before 5th May 2004, your view of the river would have been framed by the branches of an oak tree. A very old oak tree that had been on this spot long before the first Cliveden mansion was bult here in 1666. The oak was known as the Canning oak, after George Canning, who was Prime Minister for the shortest time of any Prime Minister, just 119 days back in 1827. He is reported to have said “I can prove anything by statistics, except the truth!” George Canning was a regular visitor to Cliveden and a great friend of Sir George Warrender who owned the property from 1824 to 1849. Canning apparently spent many hours sitting under the tree completely mesmerised by this incredible view of the Thames.

The tree’s position on the edge of the cliff became more and more precarious. We tried desperately over the years to support it with large wooden props. Unfortunately, the severe weather in 2004 took its toll and Cliveden’s oldest inhabitant finally succumbed and collapsed. Now resting, like a fallen giant, it will become home to countless generations of wildlife.”

Messing About on the River Thames

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as messing about in boats”*

One of the chief delights at Ferry Cottage, Cliveden was the proximity to the River Thames. There are rough footpaths along the banks. And, lucky for us, the river trips started for the 2017 season that very weekend.

Continue reading

The Buildings of George Devey at Cliveden

Last August I attended a family wedding celebration at Cliveden. We all stayed for one night in beautiful Spring Cottage which is part of the Cliveden House Hotel that occupies the main building at Cliveden. The whole estate belongs to the National Trust. You can read all about the story of Cliveden and its occupants (and scandals) elsewhere.

Spring Cottage, Cliveden

Continue reading

With Friends at Shottesbrooke for a Landmark Occasion

 

50th cup

Back in May, when I was in Ireland, The Landmark Trust celebrated it’s 50th anniversary with a variety of activities and events on a Golden Weekend – the sun even shone! That weekend (16 and 17 May) properties were open to the public, Antony Gormley’s LAND sculptures were unveiled and visitors at all properties were entertained by choirs singing simultaneous performances of An Anthem for Landmark.

I was disappointed to miss this event but in the annual Friends’ mailing I received an invitation to attend “A reception for Friends to include a talk and tour about Shottesbrooke, its church and Landmark’s offices” and the date was to be the afternoon of Friday 26 June. I knew already that I’d be flying out of Gatwick on 18 June and back on 25. So I decided to drive to London, leaving the car at Belsize Park, and drive to Shottesbrooke in Berkshire on the Friday in question.

What a beautiful day it was and how lucky the Landmark Trust staff are to work in such beautiful, rural surroundings. A buffet lunch was spread before us upon arrival; and not long after the first group was assembled to have an introduction to the Estate and its deserted medieval village by local historian David Ford. You can read here his history of the Estate and his entertaining history of the Church.

St John Shottesbrooke

Spire inspired by Salisbury Cathedral

St John’s Church, Shottesbrooke features in Simon Jenkins’s “England’s Thousand Best Churches” which I’ve mentioned here several times before. “The spire is visible rising over the woods from a distance and is a splendid feature of the landscape.”  Inside there are several extraordinary tombs, including the double tomb of Sir William Trussell and his lady with a canopy of eight ogee arches, and “The floors of Shottesbrooke are littered with splendid brasses still in place. one pair, of a priest and a layman of c.1370, has them both in prayer with singularly grim expressions on their faces.”

trussell tomb

The Trussell Double Tomb

brasses 1

brass 2

brasses 3

After visiting the church we were taken across the lawns to view the exterior of Shottesbrooke Park House. It is still owned by descendants of cousins of the Vansittart family who bought the property in 1716, namely the widow and son of Sir John Smith (founder of The Landmark Trust).

smith memorial

Sir John Smith Memorial in the Churchyard

House 1

Side View of the House

house 2

House Front

house rear

Rear of House

Following David’s tour we adjourned back to the cottage for further cups of tea and home made cake before being taken to see the anniversary exhibition in a barn, to offices in farm out-buildings and the Landmark main offices in the former farmhouse.

barn

 

barn entrance

Welcome to the Exhibition

display

A Display Table

book

To be published soon!

The Director of The Landmark Trust, Anna Keay, then welcomed us and thanked us for our support before going on to tell us about two properties that are opening this year (Belmont at Lyme Regis and St Edward’s Presbytery at Ramsgate) and future projects. Strawberries and cream were served to round off a wonderful afternoon. Friday was the start of a weekend of festivities and receptions at Shottesbrooke including a Director’s Lunch for Landmark Patrons on the Saturday and a big anniversary celebration on the Sunday to which all staff including housekeepers and gardeners were invited.

carousel

Carousel Fun on Sunday!