Tag Archives: Wiltshire
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 20, 2010

Beautiful Bath…

I turned on the weather forecast Friday night after someone in our hotel mentioned “frost,” and there I found predictions for chilly weather, intermittent rain, and wind. We always pray for good weather, especially for the days we’ll be outdoors, so we sure did pray this time! We awoke Saturday morning to a slight overcast haze but no frost and no rain. So far, so good! Some of us had still been sewing the night before to complete bonnets and accessories, but we all managed to be at the coach pick-up point on time and ready to go. Above you see the group of us staying at Rudloe. We were ready for our day!

Thirty minutes after joining the rest of our group on the coach, we arrived in Bath. We drove in an hour early to give people the chance to wander around a bit and see things before the Grand Costumed Promenade. Dozens and dozens of costumed participants began to trickle in as we walked around. Before long, the entire Abbey churchyard was crammed with ladies and gents ready to walk up to the Crescent! During this time, the sun came out in full and began to warm everything up for a perfect day in Bath. Here is a little photo journal of the Promenade:

Part of our group walking through the churchyard to the Pump Room...

Ladies entering the Pump Room

My mother with my youngest daughter, waiting for the Promenade...

Some of our ladies at the front of the Pump Room.

It's almost time to start!

Isn't she adorable? Expectant Regency mama in a maternity pelisse!

Looking back along the column as we march up toward the Crescent...

Jenny and Karen look splendid!

Here I am with my girls, all decked out for Bath...

Stephanie and Nancy pause on the way for a quick snap...

We've arrived at the Royal Crescent!

A dance demonstation by Steps in Time -- and this year they have a boy!

Folks watching the dancing...

So many beautiful outfits to admire!

This gent was willing to pose for us in his Naval uniform...

Don't Carol and Elisabeth look amazing?

Dawn just radiates authenticity. I love, love, love her ensemble!

I couldn't resist begging a shot of the back of this gal's Spencer. Such beautiful lines!

After the Promenade, we all walked back down to the city center for lunch. A few of us ran back to the coach to grab things we couldn’t carry during our walk, then divided up to eat. I had the amazing joy of meeting a friend I haven’t seen in 15 years for lunch in Bath. She and I happened to be in England at the same time and found out through Facebook! It was really great to catch up and see how the years have treated us. :) I spent the rest of the afternoon just window shopping with my girls, looking in on several favorite spots (Cath Kidston, anyone?), and, of course, snapping lots of photos of flowers and other lovelies in the gorgeous sunshine.

Five o’clock rolled around to find us back at the coach and ready to head “home” for the night. It was a simply amazing day–from the weather to all the costumes and everything in between. I hope everyone had as much fun as I did! I thought it was just ideal, especially with such great company to be had! After arriving back at our hotel, I asked at the desk if Box Hill was within walking distance. The chap at the desk informed me it was a “goodish stretch” up the road and to the right. So three other ladies and I set out with my two oldest daughters, determined to find Emma Woodhouse’s beautiful Box Hill. Well, I can tell you it was more than a “goodish stretch!” We went at least two miles before coming to a view that looked like Box Hill…but we weren’t sure, so we walked a bit further and stopped to ask a couple where Box Hill might be. They smiled and said, “You’re standing on it!” So we ran back to photograph the view with us in it!

From this vantage point, you can see all the way to Bath...

Two sisters and a friend enjoying Box Hill...

These two benches were placed here by the Great Western Railway, which built a tunnel through Box Hill--the longest tunnel in the UK.

Here I am with my daughter on Box Hill -- in Emma land!

All in all, it was a fantastic Saturday. Sunday we checked out of our B&Bs and headed to Lacock Village for the afternoon before pushing on to London. I’ll write about that soon!

September 15, 2010

Up with the Birds…

I woke to birdsong outside the window and just couldn’t stay abed, so I quickly got ready and headed downstairs to shoot some early morning photos of our surroundings. A little backstory first: We were all originally slated to stay in Lacock Village together at two B&Bs. Sadly, one of the B&B owners was diagnosed four weeks ago with cancer and has had to close her inn while undergoing chemotherapy. (Keep Kay in your thoughts and prayers if you would.) Losing that lovely place meant a bit of a scramble to find lodgings for 11 of us very close to the tour date. Suzi and I called and emailed and called some more, and we were most fortunate to find that Rudloe House Hotel (just across the way from Box Hill, can you believe it?) had rooms enough for all of us. So we are ensconced six miles from Lacock Village near the village of Box. It means a bit more of a shuffle for our coach driver, but we’re just glad this all worked out on such late notice!

Rudloe is a Victorian house atop a hill, overlooking the surrounding countryside. As we drove up last night, the sun was blazing through, giving us an unmatched sky with pink clouds. I wish I’d had my camera out! This morning I made my way down front to greet the day, and here’s a little walking tour before we head to Berrington Hall!

After exiting the side door, I round the corner to see the ivy-covered walls of the front of the mansion.

There in the distance is the view, as the sun burns off the morning fog...

Let's head down the gravel path through the front gate...

Ah, the sun is coming through!

Beauty!

Now let's turn 'round and head back up the path to the house...

Enchanting...like a doll's house!

Looks like the sun will greet us soon...

Here you can see the architecture and the corner "Tower Room."

Hydrangeas by the door -- my favorites!

Well, I’m off to breakfast now and then to Berrington Hall in Hereford. It promises to be a marvelous day, and I’ll be sure to share the details later! Cheerio!

September 14, 2010

Day One in London!

Well, we’re all here and accounted for (though finding folks at Heathrow this morning proved a bit of a challenge!). We went straight to the Victoria & Albert Museum for luncheon, then had a couple of hours free to see exhibits before meeting up for our private study session in the costume storage area. As with the Museum of London last year, we are not allowed to share photos of the objects displayed, but I can tell you we did lots of ooohing and ahhing! We saw a stunning 18th-century court gown, an 1880s day dress, and an ethereal Regency gown with silver thread embroidery. When I have time, I’ll look up the call numbers on the V&A site and post links so you can see, too! At left is a 1780s gown we saw last year (it was one of the inspiration pieces for my Ladies’ 1780s Portrait Dress pattern, now in progress).

After finishing at the museum, we boarded our coach for a rainy drive to Wiltshire, enjoying lots of visiting back and forth in the coach as we rode. The sun broke through the clouds in dazzling glory right at the end of our trip, casting that golden English glow over the countryside and lighting up the rain-wet trees and stone walls. It was stunning! Too bad I had packed my camera away by that point. If the weather holds tomorrow, I’ll be sure to get our gorgeous view.

Here are some highlights from today:

Back of a Grace Kelly gown on display at the V&A

Suzi showing Mom a photo of her bonnet for Bath. It's yummy!

Man's banyan coat made of a military toile, if you can imagine such a fabric!

Exquisite Victorian baby gown from the British Gallery at the V&A -- all lace!

My favorite gown in the British Gallery -- lots of amazing whitework on this trained Regency gown.

My girls peeking into a miniature room display, which was really astonishing in its detail.

Things to come... A bunch of us will be seeing the special Grace Kelly clothing exhibit next Monday afternoon!

That’s all for today. Tomorrow we head to Leominster in Herefordshire to see the Snowshill collection at Berrington Hall and enjoy the delights of the Hereford Museum costume collection as well! Cheers!