Treasures and Tours at Chirk Castle

Arriving at Chirk Castle

Started in 1295, Chirk Castle was one of several medieval Marcher fortresses sited on the Welsh-English border to keep the Welsh under English rule. Last Thursday was a glorious spring day and ideal for a visit to this beautiful location. There’s a longish approach to the Castle from the village of Chirk. You pass the wrought iron gates commissioned  by Sir Richard Myddleton and built between 1712 and 1719. They were originally at the Castle but moved to their present location in 1888.

From the Reception Courtyard, where we booked for the first house tour at 11.15, we climbed up a short hill to the Castle itself. We took note of the gardens, admired the view and explored the Castle Courtyard whilst we waited for the Tour to begin. At 11.15 a small group of us assembled in the Cromwellian Hall where David gave us a brief history of the castle and changes brought about by various owners and architects probably the most famous being Augustus Pugin. Yes, he’s been mentioned here by Milady several times. His Neo Gothic style is particularly suited to this former fortress and it would seem that he had virtually free run with his designs at Chirk.

David in the Cromwellian Room

Picture in the Cromwellian Room made of bog oak inlaid with bone. It shows the Castle in 1735 and shows the Davies Gates in their original position.

Chirk Castle (circa 1720), from the north, by Peter Tillemans (1684-1734) also shows the gates made by Robert and John Davies

The State Dining Room was at one time decorated by Pugin but was redecorated in the neo-classical manner as it had been for Richard Myddelton, MP, in the late 1770s by Lady Margaret Myddleton

The 17th Century Saloon

The Pugin Corridor

… and a selection of his fireplaces complete with his trademark tiles :

… plus a couple of his chairs :

After our House Tour we it was time for a cup of tea and then we joined another enthusiastic volunteer, Nick, for his afternoon tour of the exterior of the Castle and an explanation of the architecture within Castle Courtyard. For example – Why are there Battlements facing into the Courtyard? Answer : Because Pugin decided it would be a good idea.

Chirk Castle Courtyard

Nick’s Architectural Tour

Chirk Castle Entrance

After another Tea Room visit it was time to see the Gardens …

Ickworth Grand Tour

The weekend before last I spent three nights staying near Bury St Edmunds at a National Trust cottage on the Ickworth Estate. A friend and I stopped to visit Ely Cathedral on our journey down from Yorkshire on Friday; we visited Bury St Edmunds Cathedral and The Moyses Hall Museum on Saturday and our plan for Sunday was to walk The Ickworth Grand Tour Walk. The IGTW is a seven mile walk that begins at the NT car park. In our case, we could begin it from our Horringer Park Gates front door.

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Horringer Park Gates at Ickworth Main Entrance

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Broadstairs on Sea

On the first Friday of February after leaving St Edward’s Presbytery and dropping my sister off at Ramsgate Station I headed to the little seaside resort of Broadstairs. It’s practically part of Ramsgate but definitely a separate place. I liked very much what I saw. I’d always been intrigued by views of the town which show Charles Dickens’s Bleak House on a cliff looking  out to sea. You can see it in the middle of the picture below. There are several Dickens connections in Broadstairs and I probably didn’t see all of them. At that early hour in the morning I was able to park easily near the sea front. As near as you can get by car, anyway. There are pleasant gardens and paths separating the beach from the road and the main streets and narrow lanes behind.

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Broadstairs Beach

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Pugin’s Presbytery

St Edward’s Presbytery in Ramsgate is one of the latest properties to be added to Landmark Trust’s portfolio. It’s restoration featured in the 2015 Channel4 TV series Restoring Britain’s Landmarks.  Just before my Amsterdam trip I celebrated my birthday with a stay there. My sister joined me and we spent 4 nights relaxing by the log fire in the evenings and taking walks and making very local visits during the days. The furthest we drove was 5 miles to Margate and back.

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Harewood Estate New Year Circular

Wishing all Miladys Readers a Very Happy and Peaceful New Year!

Very much closer to home than Fountains Abbey is the Harewood Estate. Just a few miles north of Leeds off the A61, Harrogate Road. I often take a circular walk around the wider estate but not within the immediate site of the House and Gardens which are currently closed until late March 2017.

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