Report of a Sunday in Lancashire

Last weekend I ventured over to Lancashire. I’d been invited to a garden party at a friend’s allotment (dress code: fascinator and wellies) in Higher Walton, near Preston. It was raining as I left home in Yorkshire but by the time I was across the Pennines it had stopped and we enjoyed a Jacob’s Join lunch in the open air. I must say that allotment gardening, and gardening in general, look like an awful lot of hard work … but the gain is tremendous; Kath’s plot exceeded all expectations.

Plot 98 7

Welcome to the Party!

Wildflower bed

Wildflower Bed

Plot 98 1

Plot 98 6

Kath's Bee Hotel

Kath’s Bee Hotel

The Pottering Shed

It may be a shed

Trespassers

It turned out that the allotment is just a few minutes from Hoghton Tower so after lunch two of us made our way to the Tower where we came across a reenactment of the Battle of Preston (1715). Amongst the reenactors I was surprised to see the Leeds Waits a group of musicians specialising in medieval music and, incidentally, my next-door neighbours!

Leeds Waits

The battle of Preston at Houghton Tower 2015 : a short film showing the musicians that used to play at executions!”

We booked a tour of the house at 2.30 and made for the tea room for refreshments beforehand.

Hoghton Tower

Some significant people are associated with Hoghton. In particular our guide was impressed by the James I connection. James is reported to have spent a few nights at the Tower in 1617 and it was here that he was so pleased with his roast beef dinner that he knighted the joint Sir Loin. James was apparently a small chap and instead of dismounting outside in the courtyard he rode his horse right into the house and up the stairs.
It is also reported that William Shakespeare spent some time here during the period known as his ‘lost years’.

Charles Dickens was also familiar with the house and wrote a short story centred around it including a description of the building as a farm house: George Silverman’s Explanation.

And so, by fragments of an ancient terrace, and by some rugged outbuildings that had once been fortified, and passing under a ruined gateway, we came to the old farm-house in the thick stone wall outside the old quadrangle of Hoghton Towers.

Courtyard today

The “quadrangle” today

Read here about another blogger’s visit to Hoghton.

The Battle's over

The Battle’s Over – Time to go Home

 

 

Folly! at Fountains

folly leaflet

Folly! is the first of a three year programme that creatively brings the stories of Studley Royal to life, through the vision of some of the country’s most innovative artists and designers.

The original designers of the Studley Royal Water Garden, the Aislabie family, created many follies on this vast and beautiful estate to surprise and delight their eighteenth-century guests. These fashionable, whimsical buildings or structures were often used by garden designers to catch the eye or draw attention to a carefully created vista.

‘Folly!’ will see the temples and follies of this World Heritage Site garden dramatically re-imagined as places of visual trickery and untold histories.

Seek out the Octagon Tower, Temple of Fame, Banqueting House and Temple of Piety this summer and be amazed by installations created by twenty-first century artists in response to the opulent past of this unique place.”

folly map

I’ve written several times here about visits to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal – it’s one of my favourite places and easy to get to from home.

My first stop was at The Banqueting Hall. At weekends and during the school holidays the follies are open during the afternoon so I was able to go inside and see Gary McCann’s ‘Scavenger’ close to.

Scavenger

‘Scavenger’ by Gary McCann

Inside The Temple of Piety, which overlooks the Moon Ponds, is The Curious Tale of the Professor and The Temple created by Simon Costin, theatre and set designer. Supported by the jewellers Swarovski, the lavish display is purportedly based on the papers of a Professor Dennistoun of Ripon who died in 1959. He thought Fountains Abbey was the ‘Ancient place of worship now in ruins’ – a line from a prophecy of Old Mother Shipton from nearby Knaresbrough.

TofP

An ancient place of worship, now in ruin, One family shall come to dwell in. But lest the old un’s are kept entertained, No male heirs shall take the reins.

in tofp

diana

Diana, the goddess of hunting

flora

I don’t know why the goddess Flora is a teapot!

Next up was The Octagon Tower and a Hall of Mirrors by Irene Brown. It was impossible to take a picture inside so here’s a little video made by the Trust :

octagon tower

The Octagon Tower

Finally, ‘Lost Property’ also by Gary McCann is the Scavenger’s ‘nest’.

lost property

Within the smooth classical pillars of the Temple of Fame the invasion of the landscape continues. Intertwined within the artist’s creation is lost property. Collected from visitors, it provides sustenance to fantastical creatures which have taken up residence in spaces previously controlled by man

folly map cover

A marvellously magical and mysterious day out. I’m still mystified by what I saw!

Hales Great Barn

This weekend was our nephew’s wedding in Norfolk and as this was a family and friends occasion I never expected to conjure up a blog post about it. But, since we got home I couldn’t resist showing you the magnificent venue where the reception was held.

inside great barn

After a few days of seasonally summer weather at last, Saturday dawned wet and cloudy and the rain continued, on and off, throughout the day. It was a shame but it didn’t dull any of our festivities: it just meant that we were inside for rather more time than we had expected to be.

Hempnall Church

The wedding itself took place in St Margaret’s Church, Hempnall (above) and had a lovely relaxed country wedding atmosphere. From there a convoy of cars travelled along the quiet country lanes of Norfolk and Suffolk and across the huge Hales Green Common to reach Hales Hall Barn for the reception.

barn in full

About Hales Hall

The Great Barn at Hales Hall and the Hall itself were built in 1478 and the present Hall is the surviving wing of an even larger house built by Sir James Hobart, the Attorney General to Henry VII. There have been buildings on the site since Roman times.

The barn outside

The 178ft Great Barn is the largest surviving brick-built medieval barn in Britain and features a superb example of a ‘queen-post’ roof.

Massive roof

The Hall and Great Barn had fallen into agricultural use by 1971 when it was purchased by the Read family. It has been lovingly restored and owners Peter Sheppard and Keith Day plan to continue the restoration in the future.

Hales Hall is set on the edge of Hales Green, one of only a few ‘commons’ still grazed by cattle in the summer and is a haven for wildlife. At the heart of the Waveney Valley, Hales is surrounded by market towns and is close to the historic city of Norwich and within easy reach of the Norfolk and Suffolk coast.” [from the Hales Barn]

HH Accommodation

Remaining Buildings of Hales Hall

According to local information the Hall itself was demolished around 1700 leaving only the gatehouse and adjoining domestic building.

Remaining Hall

The Gatehouse

groom and bride

The Happy Couple in the Rain

The Leeds Library Summer Day Out in Whitby

whitby view

The weather on this year’s annual Leeds Library Visit to Whitby could not have been more different from last year’s The Lake District trip. The sun shone all day and the sky was blue as blue. Perfect weather for a day at the seaside. But first stop on our journey was in Pickering where after tea and toast in the Poppies Tearoom we visited the parish church of St Peter and St Paul where medieval wall paintings have been extensively restored. Originally discovered in 1851 they were almost immediately covered over again. In the 1870s they were restored and, as the leaflet tells us :

Nikolaus Pevsner, in his series of books The Buildings of England (1966), wrote that the church has “one of the most complete series of wall paintings in English churches, and they give one a vivid idea of what ecclesiastical interiors were really like”.

Pickering church

Pickering Church

George and dragon

St George and The Dragon Wall Painting

east window

The East Window

Our day out was  primarily to visit the Whitby Literary & Philosophical Society Library and Museum housed in a purpose built art gallery in Pannett Park above the town and with views of the Abbey opposite and the sea beyond.

Museum

The Society had been founded in 1823 by a group of Whitby citizens led by The Reverend George Young, a minister of the Presbyterian church. It’s chief object was to set up and maintain a museum specialising in fossils since “Whitby is a chief town of a district abounding with petrifications and containing not a few Antiquities”.

in library

The Society’s Library Today

Initially opened in two rooms over a shop in Baxtergate it subsequently moved to several other locations in the town but finally, by the end of the 19th century the Society decided it needed more space and a new building which opened in 1931 and adjoins the Municipal Art Gallery : The Pannett Art Gallery.

pannett park and abbey

We had an introduction to the collection in a new wing added 10 years ago with funds from The Heritage Lottery Fund. The volunteer curators, Stephen and Fiona, spoke enthusiastically about the collection and the Whitby Merchant Seaman’s Muster Rolls which are an important part of it.

The Muster Rolls are a unique series of historical documents which are the surviving paperwork for the Whitby Merchant Seamen’s Hospital’s regulation of the “seaman’s sixpence”, an eighteenth century pension provision. This pension provided financial support to injured seamen and to the widows and children of seamen who died while serving on merchant ships.

example

Example of Muster Roll from the Library website

They record a wealth of information about crews and ships, and offer a particularly rare insight into working men’s lives : age and place of birth; port where and when enlisted; where and when leaving the ship; name of the ship and its owners.

The Library holds on microfilm the Whitby Muster Rolls from 1747 to 1795 and also some Whitby Muster Rolls from 1800 to 1850. The Museum passed 7,000 Rolls to the Society in 2010. These require careful repair and conservation and much of the cost of this is being defrayed by The Thomas Roe Trust.

The main specialism of the Library is the Whitby local area :

Local History – collections of books, pamphlets, journals, maps, prints and manuscripts for Whitby and the surrounding area (approx. 15 miles radius)

oblique sailing

Maritime History – collections of books, Lloyds registers, and records including muster rolls, and ships’ account and log books

book

Geology – extensive collection of books and journals relating to the history of geology and the internationally important discoveries of Jurassic fossils made in the 19th Century in the Whitby area

Industrial heritage – sources for the development of the alum, jet, ironstone, and potash industries and the railways in the area

Family History – many sources including printed parish registers, lists of monumental inscriptions for many local churches, wills, and indexes to wills in the York Registry

Literature and language – a small literature collection focussing on novels, poetry and plays that are either by Whitby writers or are about Whitby, and a small collection on Yorkshire dialect

After tea and biscuits we were free to visit the Library and the Museum and Art Gallery.

After a picnic lunch in the lovely Pannett Park and a final look round the Museum a fellow library member and I headed into town. After a walk along the quayside we climbed the 199 steps to the church and the Abbey for more stunning views before returning to the coach pick-up point and the return journey to Leeds.

Whitby church

Whitby Church

abbey

Whitby Abbey

view from steps

View from the Top of the 199 Steps

Crom Estate Walk

One of my favourite kinds of walk is on well marked paths around estates such as Fountains Abbey, Endsleigh, Astley Castle and Hackfall with an interesting variety of landscapes and views and ‘eye-catcher’ structures to add to the interest.

Crom Map

Despite the rain this afternoon I set out on such a walk here at The Crom Estate in Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. The estate comprises almost 2,000 acres of woodland, wetlands, farmland and parkland on the shores of Upper Lough Erne. According to the map leaflet it was laid out in 1838 and is one of the best preserved and most extensive landscapes designed by William Gilpin in the British Isles. Its unique character rests upon the scale and relationship of water, wetland, woods and parkland with its veteran trees. The Great Yew Tree is located at the Old Castle ruins and was nominated as one of 50 Great British Trees for the Queens Jubilee Year 2002.

old yew

The Ancient Yews in the Castle Ruins

There are many fine buildings on the estate walk. Crom Old Castle was built on the shore by Michael Balfour, Laird of Mountwhinney in 1610. It withstood two sieges in 1689 but was destroyed by an accidental fire in 1764. The yew trees within the ruins are reputed to be the oldest in Ireland.

approaching the old castle

Approaching the Castle Ruins

lough erne

The Crichton Tower was built on Gad Island in 1848. Its architect is unknown.

The Boathouse is a complex structure with decorated bargeboards and battlements designed in 1841 by Edward Blore. For many years it was the Lough Erne Yacht Club and the social centre for the Victorian houses in the area.

boathouse

The Boathouse

jetty

Boathouse Jetty

The Summer House was built around 1880 out of the structure of an old school house on the site. It was built for Lady Florence who used it as a picturesque retreat. Rustic inside, it had a woven straw mat, a cupboard above the fireplace with cups and other teatime items, a round table and chairs and a box for firewood. The original boathouse of the demesne, later made into a folly, lies below the summer house.

summerhouse

The Summer House

summer house view

View from The Summer House

A white iron bridge connects the mainland with Inisherk (Inis means island in Irish) and a track leads straight across to another small jetty. There are two cottages – Bridge and Gamekeeper’s – and the remains of a Walled Garden.

garden gate

Gate to The Walled Garden

The Garden was completed in 1833 and included a hot house, potting sheds and a propagating house, built in later years. The Garden remained in use until the 1950s. Lately the Trust has carried out extensive repairs to the walls including the rebuilding of a large section of south wall.

extensive garden

The extensive Walled Garden

Returning over the bridge a track through woodland brought me to the Stable Yard (now NT Offices) and The Riding School (apparently never used as such as it was commandeered by the US Air Force for D-Day preparations/training).

saplings

Oak Sapling Commemorating the USAF Presence

“This oak tree was planted on 6th June 2014 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the United States forces stationed here in WWII”

ice house

Nearby are The Turf House, also designed by Blore and built with an adjacent pier in 1840 for peat fuel to be originally unloaded here for the castle later in the century a sawmill was established, and an Ice House.

in turf house

Inside the Turf House today

From the Stable Yard area the track continues through woodland after which I joined a grassy path alongside the Deer Park fencing with views of Crom Castle itself which is still a private residence and not open to the public.

crom castle

Crom Castle and Deer Park

And so back to dear Alder Cottage to dry off after a fascinating two hour walk.

Alder Cottage

Alder Cottage

Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb : Colclough Walled Garden

 

Walled garden

Established over 200 years ago and abandoned after Lucey Marie left Tintern Colclough (pronounced Coke-lee) Walled Garden has undergone a transformation in the past 4 or so years. The original layout has been reinstated using an Ordnance Survey Of Ireland historical map dated 1838. The map showed path structure, bridges, location of vegetable garden and fruit trees. It finally reopened in 2012.

At Tintern Abbey I joined Heritage Ireland and the card admitted me also to the Walled Garden.

Woodland path

The approach from the Abbey is through the former village of Tintern and along a woodland path with a strong smell of garlic and fading bluebells.

edge of ornamental

The Edge of the Ornamental Garden

Veg garden

The Kitchen Garden

The garden is divided into an Ornamental Garden and a Kitchen Garden.

Rhubarb for sale

Rhubarb seems to a popular vegetable for May. The south-facing sheltered garden also supports Mediterranean fruits and efforts are made to garden as ecologically and organically as possible.

sheltered and south facing

Oranges and Lemons

Returning to the Abbey and Car park I followed the longer route over the Battlemented Abbey Bridge and past the ruined church and burial ground.

Battlemented Abbey Bridge

 

Bridge

 

TA Church

Ruined Church and Graveyard

hazel wood quotation

Chelsea Physic Garden : Where Plants Really Matter

On Friday my sister arrived to join me for the weekend and we checked into our hotel just behind Harrods. This was a relatively new area for us. We had decided to avoid the Central London and City areas as the London Marathon on the Sunday meant big crowds and closed roads and limited access everywhere.

So, being in the Belgravia area seemed a good opportunity to visit lesser known places in the Chelsea area. For many years I’ve wanted to visit the Chelsea Physic Garden but haven’t been in the right place at the right time. Friday being beautifully warm and sunny we decided to step out down Sloane Street and Royal Hospital Road where, next door to the Royal Hospital (think, Chelsea Pensioners), we found the high walls surrounding another oasis of peace and calm.

CPG Rock gdn

The rock garden of basalt rocks is a listed monument

Tucked away beside the Thames, Chelsea Physic Garden is a celebration of the beauty and importance of plants. This walled Garden was founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries for its apprentices to study the medicinal qualities of plants and it became one of the most important centres of botany and plant exchange in the world. Today, as an independent charity the Garden relies on the support of visitors and Friends to help protect and nurture the Garden for future generations.” [From the website]

tangerine dream

The Cafe in the 17th century curator’s house

There are free tours every half hour with a volunteer guide so we decided to join one of these first, before having lunch outside the Tangerine Dream Cafe.

CPG gates

The Gates lead to the Chelsea Embankment and beyond that to the River Thames which was so important to the Garden bringing boats alongside with their cargoes of exotic plants

volunteers and gardeners at work

Gardeners and volunteers at work in the Systematic Order Beds

It was impossible for our introductory tour to include all of the gardens on the site :

Garden of Medicinal Plants
The Pharmaceutical Garden
World Woodland Garden
The Garden of World Medicine
The Garden of Edible and Useful Plants
Historical Walk
Botanical Order Beds
Island Endemic Flora

[Each garden is explained on the website.]

so after lunch we visited most of the rest – the greenhouses, the new world woodland garden and had a closer look at the two information point caravans devoted to Sir Hans Sloane and the Swedish plantsman Linnaeus.

Sloane and Linnaeus

Each cart contains information about Carl Linnaeus and Sir Hans Sloane

Hans Sloane

Sir Hans Sloane (a copy of the original)

Dr. Hans Sloane, after whom the nearby locations of Sloane Square and Sloane Street were named, purchased the Manor of Chelsea from Charles Cheyne. This purchase of about 4 acres was leased to the Society of Apothecaries for £5 a year in perpetuity. Sloane was also a founder of the British Museum.

‘Curse or Cure?’ is the title of the 2015 temporary outdoor art installation created for the Garden by ceramic artist Nici Ruggiero. It consists of a trail of 15 inscribed apothecary jars displayed on metal spikes amongst the plants and a larger display of 21 jars against the wall.

curse or cure descrip

Description of the Installation

curse or cure jar

A Jar on a Spike

curse or cure jars

The 21 Jars

Read here an article by Lisa Jardine which appeared in the Financial Times Magazine in 2013. You may need to register to read.