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September 17, 2012

Charming Lacock Village

On our way to our hotel near Bath, we stopped for several hours to enjoy a leisurely afternoon in Lacock Village. It was a gorgeous, sunny day with a light breeze–perfect for tea and strolling around!

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A wonderful pause before our big Regency day in Bath!

September 20, 2010

Let’s all move to Lacock!

Passing briefly through Lacock Village at the end of last year’s tour only whetted my appetite. I knew immediately that I’d love to stay there or in the vicinity, and I figured my tour guests would enjoy seeing “Meryton” and “Cranford” as much as I did. So after packing up and checking out Sunday, we met the rest of our group in Lacock at their B&B, loaded all the suitcases on the coach, then gave ourselves four hours to thoroughly explore and enjoy this lovely medieval village. Every nook and cranny in Lacock is charming. Inns that have existed since the 15th century sit nestled next to woolen shops and bakeries. On this day we happened upon a craft fair and a local art show, much to the delight of several artisans in our group. Here’s a little walking tour of some of my favorite spots:

Approaching Lacock from the car park behind the Red Lion Inn (which is on the left)...

The garden patio behind the Red Lion...

One of the famous half-timbered houses in the village (recognize it from "Cranford?").

I do love all the multi-paned windows, painted doors, and flower pots!

An abundant garden spills over the wall of one cottage.

The Stable House Tea Room behind the Red Lion. Delicious food and great atmosphere!

Love the Dutch door and window box overflowing with blooms. Ah!

One shop behind The George carries all kinds of hand-made furniture and other English goodies. I adore the hutches!

My girls were absolutely thrilled to find a children’s play area tucked behind a fence across the street from Lacock Abbey (thank you, Trish, for pointing that out!). They played and played until we were ready for lunch:

Wheee!

Around she goes!

After a yummy luncheon in the Stable House Tea Room, my mother, my girls, and I made our way to Lacock Abbey, which I’d never been able to tour. Our National Trust family cards got us in for free (this was a great investment, by the way, as it got us into Killerton and Berrington Hall free as well!). The Abbey is quite an imposing building from a distance, built over 800 years ago by monks and used as a monastery for centuries. But it also has some inviting nooks and little surprises, as you’ll see:

The Abbey from across the fields...

Rounding the side of the Abbey to reach the entrance...

Close-up near the front entrance...

My daughter finds a hidden door just her size at the base of the tower!

Beautiful leaded glass windows...

The cloisters are breathtaking.

Looking through the cloister windows into the courtyard...

I'd love to take the library home with me!

Can't you just picture a Georgian or Regency lady seated at this beautiful harp?

It was hard to get a clear shot of the wonderful music room because of the lighting (no flash allowed!)...

Looking through the doorway into the long gallery....

The Abbey is absolutely crammed with portraits--lots of historical clothing to study here!

I can't believe I managed to pull off a clear shot of the dining room, as it was so dark. The ambiance is absolutely amazing.

This is the last room in the house, filled with sculptures in niches and an amazing carved ceiling.

I could just curl up here with a good book on a winter's night!

My oldest daughter really enjoyed all the trees and shady nooks on the grounds of the Abbey.

Both my daughters loved all the "forts" under the trees. They kept wishing their brothers could be here to join in the fun!

Cyclamen beneath the trees...

The Abbey garden is beautiful, filled with fragrant flowers and herbs...

Down the garden path toward the greenhouse -- heavenly fragrances and colors!

I have to say that Lacock Abbey is one of the most child-friendly “great houses” you can visit. Our girls found an “I-Spy” game card that took them through the house looking for hidden objects in each room. It was a blast! One of the docents told me they love having school groups and children come with parents, and I could tell. Photos are now allowed inside (no flash, of course),  because the Abbey changed its no-photo policy earlier this year after realizing they couldn’t stop all the surreptitious mobile-phone camera shots people were taking and posting online. As the docent told me in a conspiratorial whisper, “We’ve just decided to ‘go with the flow,’ as they say!” I am glad, as it allows me to share what’s inside this beautiful National Trust property with you! If you ever have a chance to visit, I can recommend it highly. One more bonus we enjoyed: a men’s choir group was traveling around singing in famous abbeys and churches and happened to be at Lacock at the same time we were. When I re-entered the cloisters to retrieve our stroller, they were singing a beautiful hymn in harmony. The acoustics made it an incredible experience.

All in all, it was a marvelous day in Lacock. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves before heading back to London to check in at our Kensington hotel. Later I’ll post about Sunday night’s “London Dash!”

September 16, 2010

Thursday in Exeter

We wended our way southward today to Devon, enjoying beautiful scenery all the way there and cheering the warming temperature. Arriving at Killerton House was like entering an enchanting dream. I’ve seen many fine manor houses in England, but I have to say that Killerton now ranks as my absolute favorite. The exterior slightly resembles Luckington Court, which was used as “Longbourne” in the 1995 version of “Pride and Prejudice.” But Killerton is much larger and has what has to be the most beautiful garden I’ve ever seen. We went there for the costume exhibit, but I have to say the house was every bit as satisfying to me. It also had one special highlight guaranteed to thrill me, but I’ll share that in a moment. For now, here is a photo tour!

The elegant dining room with portraits all over and table laid out for company...

Looking into the library from the dining room...

The library fireplace. Have a seat and read a while!

Late 1780s portrait in the drawing room

A beautiful portrait of a Regency Era mother and son...

The stunning drawing room (looking toward the fireplace)...

The marble columns in the drawing room are absolutely gorgeous...

Looking into the music room -- the thrill is over the fireplace!

This is my favorite Regency portrait of all time--Lady Lydia Acland and her sons. Lady Lydia lived at Killerton, and the son at right inherited the estate.

Here's a detail shot. I just absolutely love this portrait. I have tried to find a print for years without success. Someone snagged me a postcard today in the Killerton shop! And, yes, those are boys in the dresses. The short hair is the giveaway.

This organ at the far end of the music room was built by Lord Acland for Lady Lydia after their honeymoon. The docents allow anyone to play it who wishes to. It's quite an amazing sight.

Miss Emily got to try her hand at playing Beethoven on the beautiful grand piano!

I love the stairway hall at the back of the house--doesn't that couch look like a cozy spot? I could really live here!

This is the opening of the upstairs gallery, which houses the current display of costumes. There are over 17,000 objects (10,000 garments; 7,000 accessories) in the Killerton collection, but they can only display 30-40 at a time! I'm sorry I can't show you any of the displays, but the National Trust doesn't allow it. :(

This I can share! They had a lot of hands-on displays for children, including a dress-up area, which my daughter thoroughly enjoyed!

Here was the best surprise of this trip: Killerton's costume department uses my patterns to create the try-on clothes! This is a Spencer made from my pattern. Curators Shelley and Charlotte both told me how much they enjoy my patterns. What a complete thrill!

A fashion plate on the wall -- I love how you can see the back of the lady's gown in the mirror.

We enjoyed luncheon in Killerton's Tea Room after finishing in the house. Delicious, and the service was amazing.

This is the view out the side of the house. My girls are enjoying space to run!

The garden with the cows beyond the wall...

And now for the garden! This is a real treat...

I can never get enough hydrangeas, and they had masses of 'em!

The view from the top of the garden out to the fields beyond...

And looking back at the house (tea room is below that arched window)...

Let me take a moment here to just strongly recommend that you get to Killerton if you ever have the chance. It isn’t just that the house and grounds are so very wonderful and the costume collection delightful–it is that every single staff member and volunteer who works here so obviously loves the estate and enjoys entertaining visitors. We were made to feel so welcome by every person we met, from the ticket seller in the welcome center to the manager of the tea room and everyone in between. I have never had such a feeling of good cheer and warmth and delight in any place I’ve toured. National Trust, you are doing a fabulous job with Killerton House! And all the hands-on things for children are simply icing on the cake. This is a great family outing if you can manage it. And we didn’t even get to try the children’s trail and play area!

After our lovely luncheon, we made our way back to the coach (through the shop, which was a complete trap, let me tell you!). We drove back to Exeter for our appointment with Shelley Tobin at Rougemont House, who was set to show us items from the collection stored there. The collection is used for displays at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. The museum is undergoing a massive renovation and will reopen in December 2012. Until then, the costume stores are rather crammed into corners at Rougemont House. Conservation is done in tiny rooms by a dedicated group of volunteers who are obviously in love with what they do. We enjoyed seeing a mid-Victorian paisley shawl being meticulously patched and reinforced with tiny (tiny) surgical needle and thread. Shelley obviously regretted being unable to take out more things for our inspection, but the space was just too limited. She looks forward to having all new spaces with plenty of room to spare when the museum is complete. But we enjoyed what we were able to ogle! Included was a Worth opera wrap (silk, lace, gilt–ah!), a 1670s shoe, a dear pair of 1795 striped leather shoes with very pointy toes, and a stunner of an 1830s dinner bonnet with ostrich plume and plump bows. Then we climbed upstairs to see rare lace and racks upon racks of garments being readied for the move to the new, improved conservation center. Bliss!

Listening to Shelley describe the pieces (sorry I have to cut off the table -- can't show anything!)...

Rougemont Castle is directly opposite Rougemont House. 1068 next door!

This fascsimile portrait of lady archers by Frith stood next to the castle. Beautiful!

On the road again! The sun was out again as we headed toward our evening meal in Lacock Village. I snapped this church out the window as we flew past. Devon is so lovely and reminds me of my childhood haunts in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia....

The George Inn, Lacock Village. It is a charming spot and so cozy and inviting. Delicious food, too!

Here's the room where we ate. Low ceilings, rock walls...the quintessential country pub!

These will be a bit blurry because of the low light, but a pub just doesn't look right with a flash!

Waiting for our meals at table...

So that was our day! I’ve rounded it out by sneaking a late-night dessert in the lounge of Rudloe Hall while looking through photos and blogging. Having realized I’ve killed the third camera battery, I’m Googling to see if I can find one in Bath tomorrow (wish me luck!). Tomorrow morning we head to the Jane Austen Centre for a tour and luncheon. After that, we motor over to The American Museum in Britain at Claverton Hall. Should be a fun day!

October 14, 2009

Charming Lacock Village

102_1333We gathered after breakfast Monday morning, missing a bunch of ladies who had either left the night before or who were staying on longer in England. Our coach driver loaded up our bags, and those of us heading back to London settled into our seats. All of us flying out that afternoon had enough time to stop through Lacock Village on the way, and we looked forward to seeing the site of favorite costume dramas like “Cranford” and A&E’s “Pride & Prejudice.” The morning was sunny, promising a pretty drive through Wiltshire. After a very short drive, we pulled into the parking area outside the village. Everyone was eager to hop out and see what lay beyond the trees shielding Lacock from view. We took the footpath and soon arrived next to the gate for magnificent Lacock Abbey. After pausing to snap some shots, we wended our way through this wonderful medieval village, enjoying all the cozy cottages and lovely inns and shops. This really is a fabulous location! There’s even a cottage you can rent for vacations–dreamy. [The first seven pictures below come from Lindsay's camera--thanks, Linds! The rest are my snapshots.]

Lacock Abbey

Lacock Abbey

Looking down the main street, with the Red Lion Inn on the left (Recognize it? Picture Mr. Darcy gazing at in disgust by torchlight--the Meryton Assembly Rooms!)

Looking down the main street, with the Red Lion Inn on the left (Recognize it? Picture Mr. Darcy gazing at in disgust by torchlight--the Meryton Assembly Rooms!)

My husband stands in front of King John's Hunting Lodge, one of the oldest inns in Lacock.

My husband stands in front of King John's Hunting Lodge, one of the oldest inns in Lacock.

Miss Molly poses for a snap in costume, looking right at home!

Miss Molly poses for a snap in costume, looking right at home!

Gazing out across the fields of Wiltshire surrounding the village.

Gazing out across the fields of Wiltshire surrounding the village.

The parish church in Lacock

The parish church in Lacock

An ornate iron fence surrounds a tomb in the churchyard.

An ornate iron fence surrounds a tomb in the churchyard.

Looking down the nave of the church. I loved all the light streaming in from the leaded glass windows.

Looking down the nave of the church. I loved all the light streaming in from the leaded glass windows.

A look up at the timbered ceiling--beautiful!

A look up at the timbered ceiling--beautiful!

Ornate leaded glass windows down the side of the church...

Ornate leaded glass windows down the side of the church...

Windows above with the sun streaming down...

Windows above with the sun streaming down...

And the beautiful stained glass window...

And the beautiful stained glass window...

The lectern up at the front...

The lectern up at the front...

Looking through the front door out toward the graveyard...

Looking through the front door out toward the graveyard...

Side view of the church with my son walking amongst the tombs...

Side view of the church with my son walking amongst the tombs...

One of many beautiful half-timbered cottages.

One of many beautiful half-timbered cottages.

I love this one!

I love this one!

Looking through the gate toward the memorial chapel and graveyard...

Looking through the gate toward the memorial chapel and graveyard...

The town's war memorial for those lost in WWI and WWII. For a village this small, there was a surprisingly high number of losses in WWI.

The town's war memorial for those lost in WWI and WWII. For a village this small, there was a surprisingly high number of losses in WWI.

Looking up the alleyway next to The George Inn towards the woolen shop.

Looking up the alleyway next to The George Inn towards the woolen shop.

The George Inn itself.

The George Inn itself.

And we must showcase the flowers around the doorway!

And we must showcase the flowers around the doorway!

Looking 'round the corner from The George...

Looking 'round the corner from The George...

A charming stone cottage

A charming stone cottage

The Sign of the Angel -- inn and pub.

The Sign of the Angel -- inn and pub.

A closer view of King John's Hunting Lodge

A closer view of King John's Hunting Lodge

The shopkeeper across the street mentioned that a lot of the houses on this street had their upper rooms bumped out over the lower to fit large looms for weaving, which was a staple trade in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The shopkeeper across the street mentioned that a lot of the houses on this street had their upper rooms bumped out over the lower to fit large looms for weaving, which was a staple trade in the 15th and 16th centuries.

After doing some shopping in the National Trust store and enjoying a light lunch in the village, we re-boarded our bus for the drive to Heathrow. It was so hard to believe our time in England had at last come to an end! We gazed out over the countryside to drink in all we could before our flight homeward. We can never say a final “goodbye” to England, as it really feels like home after all our visits. We say “au revoir” instead and hope we’ll see it again soon!

Now, I have a few goodies from the Jane Austen Festival to give away in my final blog post, so prepare yourself for a trivia contest! I’m going to post questions about the things we saw and did while in the UK, and the first four readers to send in correct answers will win the goodies. Stay tuned!