Mr JK and I have been members of the National Trust for a few years now and we were fortunate during our recent holiday to have a number of properties right on our doorstep. We worked out that during the week, we more than recouped the cost of our membership.
We started off by visiting Little Moreton Hall in Cheshire. It's a timber framed Tudor building, surrounded by a moat. I'd first become aware of it about 20 years ago through a tv programme we used to show the children all about Tudor houses. My good friend Snoopydog and I shared many a chuckle over the somewhat amusing commentary that accompanied the programme. So I was thrilled to discover that it was literally 5 minutes down the road from the hotel we were staying in prior to the wedding.
The house itself is quite magnificent. It's built around a central courtyard. I rather like this photo taken from the Long Gallery looking down to the courtyard through the tiny panes of glass. The house almost looks like a doll's house to me. In Tudor times, only the rich could afford glass in their windows. You were taxed according to the number of windows you had, and if you moved house (or even went on holiday, I believe) you took your glass with you!!!
Of course I managed to find something wool-related. There was some fleece and a drop spindle as well as these skeins of naturally dyed yarns and a device the Tudors used for making simple cords.
I rather like this carving above one of the windows in the courtyard. I wonder how long it took to do? Certainly the Tudor craftsmen were highly skilled.
Our next stop was Biddulph Grange Garden, just down the road from the wedding venue itself. Although it was a rather grey day, we enjoyed our walk around the gardens.
There were still quite a number of spring bulbs in flower. I particularly liked the intensity of these blue flowers, growing amongst a rather impressive tree stumpery. They look so delicate, don't they?
Soon after arriving in the Lake District, we stopped off at Sizergh Castle. The Medieval house was closed the day we were there, but we were able to admire the gardens. There were lots of beautiful plants to see. Here are just a few of them.
We visited Tarn Hows, a really lovely spot in the Lake District, and spent an enjoyable hour or so walking around the lake. There are some beautiful views there.
I managed to get a couple of rounds knit on my plain vanilla socks too!
The ducks were obviously used to people - as soon as we ventured near the water's edge, they made a beeline for us, hoping for a snack! We shared a bit of our picnic lunch with them later on in the day.
We also visited Hill Top, home of the children's author Beatrix Potter. This house inspired many of her books, and if you look carefully, you can see objects that appear in some of her illustrations.
Beatrix left this house and some of her other Lake District properties (she was a sheep farmer in her later years) to the National Trust, with the instructions that it was to be kept just as she had left it. So when you go in, you can see her hat hanging from the hook. It's almost as if she has just popped outside. Really fascinating. I liked the garden too - I expected to see Peter Rabbit peeping out at any moment! We also visited the Beatrix Potter gallery in Hawkshead. They are currently celebrating Peter Rabbit's 110th birthday and have a magnificent display of Beatrix's artwork.
I think my favourite place was Townend. This property was about a mile from where we were staying in Troutbeck, so we walked down there one morning to get a place in one of the guided tours. Townend was home to the Browne family for more than 400 years.
Because the house remained in the family, all the possessions were passed down too. It was absolutely fascinating to look around. There is lots of intricately carved wooden furniture all around the house. Just look at the date on this Bible stand.
The house also has a very impressive library containing some books that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The National Trust is currently trying to preserve all the books for future generations. The four poster bed and baby's cot were beautiful too. The cot has a little door at one end where a hot brick would be put to keep the baby warm!
I especially liked all the patchwork quilts, made with scraps of material. I wonder what stories they could tell?
I hope you've enjoyed this trip around some of the National Trust properties in the north west of England. I'll see you again soon. xxx