Tag Archives: National Trust

The Culloden Battlefield

The Battlefield

The Culloden Battlefield

On 16th April 1746, five miles to the east of Inverness, the last pitched battle on British soil resulted in the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his attempt to reclaim the thrones of Britain and Ireland for the House of Stuart.

The Young Pretender’s ambitions have gone down in folklore and often been romanticized to such an extent that the real facts have often become blurred. This was not just simply a battle between Highlanders and Lowlanders, Scots and English, or even Catholics and Protestants. It was probably more about returning a Scotsman to the throne of Scotland than anything else, but be that as it may, Charles Edward Stuart’s ambition came to an abrupt end on Culloden Moor against the Duke of Cumberland, son of the Hanoverian King George II.

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The Georgian House

The Parlour

The Georgian House

From a sightseeing perspective I think it would be fair to say that Edinburgh’s New Town doesn’t have the same appeal as the Old Town, but the area that (very) roughly extends from Calton Hill to The Haymarket, and from Princes St to Cumberland St is a harmonious blend of classical town planning which, along with the Old Town, constitutes Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site.

The New Town covers about one square mile and has over 11,000 listed properties, one of which is The Georgian House in Charlotte Square.

The square was designed by Robert Adam, whose vision was to make the rows of houses on each side resemble the front of a palace, but in the end only the North side stayed faithful to his original plan.

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Stonehenge

Stonehenge

I don’t think I’m wrong when I say that Stonehenge is one of those places that sits high on many people’s list of life’s big disappointments, but with the right mental attitude and a bit of forward planning it can still be somewhere that you’ll be glad to say you’ve seen.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site lies about nine miles north of Salisbury and can be reached by the useful ‘Stonehenge Tour Bus’ which does a circuit between the city, Old Sarum, and Stonehenge.

(http://www.thestonehengetour.info/)

The first obvious detraction from this iconic site is its proximity to the main A303 trunk road which has been constantly debated about ever since I can remember.

Not so long ago the A360 road to Devizes and the inadequate visitor centre were also bones of contention, but were both rectified by the closure of the road and the re-positioning of a new modern visitor centre 1½ miles away.

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The Close

Chorister's Green

The Close

In my Salisbury Cathedral Pt 2 review I gave James Wyatt a bit of a rough time for his so-called improvements to the church, but I’m going to give ’Wrecker’ Wyatt a bit of credit here for a change.

Between 1789 and 1792 he embarked on his mission to improve the Cathedral and its surroundings including the churchyard which was situated in an area of swampy marshland. He removed the tombstones, drained the swamp, and created a landscape fit for a Cathedral.

It now stands in the centre of a large enclosed Green known as ‘The Close’, which is entered by one of three gates – the North Gate, St. Ann’s Gate, and Harnham Gate. Inside these gates is an oasis of peace and tranquillity no matter how many people come to visit the Cathedral. This is the largest Close in England with plenty of room for everyone and the buildings surrounding it are an absolute architectural delight. They’ve evolved over the centuries into a harmonious composition of different styles.

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Lydford

Lydford

Lydford is a small village of around 500 people situated right on the western edge of Dartmoor National Park between Tavistock and Okehampton.

It may be small, but it’s a place worth seeking out if you find yourself in this part of the world. It has an interesting history and some lovely scenery nearby, and I’ve never understood why so few people come here.

Along with Barnstaple, Exeter and Halwell in South Devon, Lydford was one of the four principle Devon burghs that Alfred the Great created to defend his kingdom of Wessex against the Danes, and it was from this period that the town became an important coin minting centre.

Silver was the metal of preference for coins at the time and Lydford was fortunate in having a rich supply of the stuff nearby. The mines provided the silver and the ‘Moneyers’ made the coins. These silver coins were known as ‘Lydford Pennies’ and an estimated one and a half million of them were produced: A few of these have found their way into the Castle Inn, but if you happen to come from Scandinavia I wouldn’t mention the fact because most of these coins were whisked away by the Vikings during a late 10th century raid, and you have a far better chance of seeing some in Stockholm than you do in England.

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Coleton Aglow

Coleton Aglow

 

Christmas 2015 saw Coleton Fishacre venture into the festive spirit for the first time and throw open its doors to show people how the D’Oyly Carte family would have enjoyed their Christmas in the 1920s and 30s.

In today’s modern age it all seems a bit low key which of course was how it was meant to be. To brighten things up a bit the gardens are illuminated, but don’t expect to see an extravagant sound and light show. Apart from anything else it wouldn’t be appropriate anyway.

The walk around the garden will probably take around 45 minutes or so, but that doesn’t include a mulled wine stop at the gazebo.

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Coleton Fishacre – The Gardens

Coleton Fishacre - The Gardens

 

If the house is worth taking a look at, then the gardens of Coleton Fishacre are even more so. These gardens are my favourite in this part of the world, not only because they’re appealing and well designed, but their proximity to the sea makes them even more enchanting.

You would need a good couple of hours to do these gardens justice, and even then you wouldn’t see everything, so I’m going to highlight the things you shouldn’t miss.

There are a few routes that can be taken but I’m going to suggest taking the most obvious one that follows the stream down through the valley to the cliffs above Pudcombe Cove.
There is a wheelchair/pushchair friendly path that follows the stream downhill, but remember that going down also means that you have to come back up, and if mobility is a problem then it’s probably best to return the same way, as the other alternative routes aren’t quite so easy to negotiate.

The main path starts from outside the house but don’t miss the Seemly Terrace and Rill Garden. If you follow this route it joins up with the main path anyway a bit further on. Humidity is high in this 30 acre garden which is ideal for moisture loving plants, and as you continue down through the valley luxurious ferns and Gunnera soon come into view.
At the bottom of the valley there is a gate which leads out onto the coast path above Pudcombe Cove which is as far as the gardens go.

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Coleton Fishacre – The House

Coleton Fishacre - The House

 

The National Trust owns several properties in South Devon and they all have something to commend them, but I think my favourite has to be Coleton Fishacre.

It’s a bit out of the way, but that’s one of the attractions of this estate that includes a magnificent garden that sweeps down to the sea and a house that evokes the bygone jazz age of the 1920s.

The man behind the creation of Coleton Fishacre was Rupert D’Oyly Carte, whose father, Richard, was the producer of Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic operas.
Rupert, who incidentally was also the inspiration for P.G Wodehouses’s Rupert Psmith, inherited the family business including the Savoy Hotel and Claridge’s in London.

It was on a sailing trip between Brixham and Dartmouth with his wife Dorothy, that he saw the potential of the valley above Pudcombe Cove for building a home on the coast.
It’s not difficult to see why they chose this spot, and in 1923 he set about building Coleton Fishacre which took three years to finish.

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Privateers, Castles, Sea Dogs and Pilgrims

Privateers, Castles, Sea Dogs and Pilgrims

Dartmouth, without doubt, is one of my favourite Devon towns: A picturesque setting, old buildings, and a fascinating maritime history combine together to make this one of the gems of South Devon.

Lying along the western bank of the River Dart just before it reaches the sea, Dartmouth owes its very existence to the river. Primitive settlements were set up along the muddy banks as far back as Celtic times, but land reclamation over the centuries have seen the town develop into how it looks today.

During that time the deep natural harbour has seen many comings and goings: The 12th cent saw ships leave here for the Crusades, and Henry II’s marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine saw a lucrative wine trade flourish with Bordeaux, but the most influential person in Dartmouth’s history was a local man by the name of John Hawley.

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