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.”
“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.
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
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.
Horringer Park Gates at Ickworth Main Entrance
Earlier in the week I decided that on Thursday I’d head off to Fountains Abbey and have a walk, a bite to eat and be home early afternoon. Thursday dawned very frosty but the roads were fine and the car park almost empty when I arrived. I’ve posted several times about my visits to Fountains including here, here and here. But I visit many more times than I have posted – it is just such a beautiful place to walk and think and enjoy the views and the Georgian landscape and its follies.
Last weekend I rounded off my two-and-a-half weeks in the Southwest in Bath. This was to share further birthday celebrations with my friend, Ann, and the combination of Bath and a Landmark Trust property is an excellent way to do this. Ten years ago I helped my mum celebrate her eightieth birthday in another Bath Landmark.
On Friday I’ll have been in the southwest for two weeks enjoying stays in favourite places : Lyme Regis, Ashburton and now Chagford. One of Sir Edwin Lutyens‘s masterpieces Castle Drogo is just a few miles away from our cottage and I decided to revisit on this glorious autumn dayVisitor Centre at Castle Drogo