National Trust homes; Polesden Lacey and Ham House

We are staying in Epsom and we are taking care of two sweet french bulldogs and a rabbit. lilly and mabel

Ronnie the lop eared rabbitWe have gone to two National Trust homes.  The first one was Polesden Lacey.  It was the weekend home of the popular and powerful socialite in the 1900s, Margaret Greville.   No expense was spared to impress the royalty and political men of the time who flocked to her accommodating home to spend the country weekends away from London .

She catered to each guest to make sure they had the best time at her home.   She made sure that the cigars that were preferred by each guest was in his room.  There was a large billiard and smoking room for the gentlemen to use.  Each guest room had the latest novels on the bed stand.  The food was fresh from her farm land and of the highest quality prepared by a famous chef.   Everyone who was anyone wanted to be her guest.polesden lacey house net

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The cafe at the Polesden Lacey house

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Home phone

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beautiful gardens

She died in 1948 and left her house to the National Trust.  This is a lovely home that is still impressive and now it is open for the public to enjoy.

The second house we visited was Ham House.  This was another stately home that was build in 1610.  It was the home of William Murray and his feisty daughter Elizabeth, the Duchess of Lauderdale.    She hosted  important government officials at her home and dining table during the English Civil War.  They did not know that she was  a spy for King Charles II while he was in exile in France.  She even wrote letters to the royalists in France in invisible ink.  She was a member of the secret organization known as the Sealed Knot.   In 1660, when Charles was restored to the British throne, he awarded a sizable reward and pension to Elizabeth for risking her life and fortune in support of him.  She died at Ham House in 1698 at the age of 72.  Her descendants lived in the house until 1948 when it was donated to the National Trust. ham house netHam house entrance net

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the staircase is carved in battle dress

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Wooden windows looking out to the garden

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The house was built a short walk from the River Thames.  No doubt many distinguished guests arrived by way of the river for house parties.Thames river netIt was an inspiring visit to the homes of two women who were powerful political agents in a time when women were considered powerless party ornaments.

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The Priest House, a fifteenth century timber framed hall house

We drove to West Hoathly the other day to see the Priest house museum. West Hoathly is a charming village with lots of historical houses.  Here is the Cat Inn.  It is a 16th century  building that once stood on the crossroads that went through the village. The Cat Inn West HoathlyDown the road from the Priest house is the Old Manor house.  which was built in 1628 for Mrs. Catherine Infield.  old manor house west HoathlyThe village has lots of cute little cottages.  old cottage door West HoathlyThe Priest House is a 15th century timber house.  The Priest House West HoathlyThe history of this house is interesting.  This is from Wikipedia; “The Priest House was built for the Priory of St Pancras in Lewes as an estate office to manage the land they owned around West Hoathly, but was seized by Henry VIII following the dissolution of the monasteries. Subsequently, it belonged to Anne of Cleves, Thomas Cromwell, Mary I and Elizabeth I  although there is no evidence that any of them visited the property.”  Basically, they rented out the property for extra income.

I love to tour property like this.  I always want to try to understand how people lived long ago.  This house, which is run by the Sussex Archaeological Society, has a welcoming style with booklets that tell about the furniture in each room and how they were used.  Here is a photo of the main hall.  Most of the household activities took place in this central room.The Priest House main room netThe fireplace was installed in 1580, so all the heating and cooking is done here.The Priest House fireplace netYou can see the the hot water spigot on the pot in the fireplace.The Priest House fireplace hotwaterThe bread oven is built into the side of the fireplace.  The wife would start a fire in the oven and then clean out the ashes.  She put the bread and pies into it and sealed it with a wooden door.   The Priest House bread oven netThey would use rush lights for lights.  They were made from pig fat and were cheap but smelly.  These were rush light holders. Wax candles were very expensive, and only rich people or churches could afford them.The Priest House candle holders Upstairs there is a bedroom with a cradle.  You can see that a tapestry hung on the left side of the wall to help keep out drafts from the room next door.The Priest House bedroom netThe ceiling is open faced timbers.The Priest House ceilingThere are many windows in the  house that look out into the gardens.The Priest House outside windows

And here is a little flower pot that someone added recently.  It was so cute I thought it would be a good final photo.The Priest House flower pot

We are home and getting ready to go back to Europe

I have not posted in a while because being at home is not that interesting.  We have gotten around to all of our doctor appointments and we are healthy and ready to hit the road again.

We have been doing household improvements since we have decided to keep the house for a while.

The new plan is a family Baltic cruise in June and then to stay on in Europe until October or November of 2018 and cruise home.

I am so excited.  I will keep you informed of our progress. Mac our dog is very happy that we are home. destination England 2 I have been working on some travel journals to sell in my etsy shop ( www.etsy.com/shop/LDphotography)  and I will probably post some information as I prepare my travel journal for this summer.  I make up my travel journal ahead of time so all I have to take with me is the journal,  water color pencils, glue, tape and scissors. destination Scotland 2

Nuffield House; Another approach when you have too much money

The previous post was about our visit to Waddesdon, the home of the Rothschild family. These folks made their money in banking, and from the second generation they were pretty much born rich and got richer.  They literally had great difficulty in spending their money, and put a lot into their estate.  Compare the photographs of their weekend retreat with the ones from William Morris’s home.

Here’s another approach.

William Morris was born in 1877 and about the age of 15, he dropped out of school and took on a short apprenticeship to a bicycle repairman.  In a couple of months, he had learned all he could there, and opened his own shop. But when cars began to be built in the UK, he was fascinated. He gathered a few friends and founded Morris Garage (MG — get it?) near Oxford. By 1912 he was making cars, and continued to build this empire through the early ’50s.

William had married a young lady he met in his cycling club, but they never had children. In the ’30s they bought a nice home, built in 1914, about eight miles out of town in an up-and-coming golf club development area, and named it Nuffield Park, after a nearby village. They added to it. It’s in the hands of the National Trust now, which is how we happened to visit it.  The interior is pretty much as it was when he died in 1963. It’s pretty grand compared to ordinary houses, but compared to some of the stately homes, it’s a garden shack. It’s also full of pretty ordinary stuff, including a 1956 television and radio sets from the ’30s and ’40s.

Morris had a workshop built into his bedroom. He re-soled his own shoes, fixed all the gates and fences on the property, and carpeted the hallway with leftover pieces of carpet from the factory office.

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In the ’50s, the many UK car businesses began to merge, and by 1955 he had sold or merged most of his businesses.

As he had no heir, William started working at giving everything away. He founded and endowed Nuffield College at Oxford, and it’s the fourth-highest endowed college now. During the late ’40s, he was heartbroken at the polio epidemic, so he designed and had built 5000 iron lungs to be given to hospitals throughout Britain.Nuffield iron lung 5x7 net There’s one on display in an outbuilding on the estate. Even though he didn’t like the idea of unions, he understood why they needed to exist, and established a profit-sharing trust for his employees.

There’s a pub named for him in Cowley, near where the factories used to be.

Shakespeare and Stratford upon Avon

We are here in Stratford upon Avon pet sitting wonderful Enzo.enzo bed netHe is a well behaved and sweet border terrier who is a joy to be with.  The first day after his family left for their vacation we stayed at home letting Enzo get used to us and keeping him busy with walks and play.  It is difficult for pets when they miss their humans but we try to make the transition as pleasant and reassuring as possible.  Enzo did quite well which makes all of us happy.

Since we are in Stratford the town where Shakespeare was born, married, and died, we are submerging ourselves in all things Shakespeare.  We visited his birthplace. “Shakespeare’s Birthplace is a restored 16th-century half-timbered house situated in Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, where it is believed that William Shakespeare was born in 1564 and spent his childhood years” (Wikipedia)Shakespeare birth place 5x7 netThis is one of the fireplaces where food was cooked and that kept the small room heated in the winter.Shakespeare home fireplace 5x7 netWe visited Anne Hathaway’s family cottage in Shottery , a village about a mile away. Anne was born in this cottage in 1555 or 1556 and grew up the oldest of 10 children on a large farm. Her father died one year before Anne and Shakespeare married. Anne Hathaway cottage 5x7 net

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This is the bread oven at the Hathaway cottage

Anne married Shakespeare when he was 18 years old and she was 26.  Their daughter, Susanna, was born 6 months later.  Let’s say the wedding was a hurried affair. Eighteen months after Susanna was born, the Shakespeares had twins Hamnet and Judith. They all lived in Shakespeare’s parents’ home in Stratford.  Shakespeare went off to London to write his plays and became a very wealthy man.  He returned on and off to Stratford to visit his family.  In 1597, Shakespeare purchased New Place (the second largest home in Stratford) and Anne and the children moved in.  This house was where he died in 1616.  Unfortunately, New Place was demolished in the 1750s.

Here is Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare and his family are all buried right before the altar.  This was not given to him as an honor, but purchased by him in 1605 for 440 pounds.  This purchased a permanent resting place for himself and his family.Holy Trinity church 5x7 netShakespeare's memorial 5x7 netThis purchase was the gift that kept on giving.  Now tourists pay 3 pounds each to see his memorial and grave in the church. This has apparently been going on for some time, because the church is beautifully maintained. A lot of historical places had a bad time in the nineteenth century, and fell into disrepair, usually due to roof failure. Not at Trinity. By the way, it has a couple dozen amazing stained glass windows.

The place we are staying is a three-minute walk from the church and New Place, and eight minutes from the birthplace on Henley Street. It’s a one-mile saunter on a pretty path, perhaps one trod by Will himself, to Anne’s childhood home.

Needless to say, I have learned a lot more about Shakespeare’s life and family than I knew before we arrived.  Being here and seeing the physical places where he lived makes him a  real person in my mind and not just a brilliant playwright.

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The River Avon where I am sure Shakespeare played as a child

Dublin’s cemeteries: Mount Jerome and Glasnevin

I am fascinated by old cemeteries.  Some of the monuments that people choose to memorialize their loved ones tell a story about who those people were when they were living.  In Dublin we have visited two cemeteries,  Mount Jerome and Glasnevin. They both have different but fascinating stories that helped me to understand the sometimes sad and valiant  stories of the Irish nation.

Since its foundation in 1836, Mount Jerome has witnessed over 300,000 burials. Originally an exclusively Protestant cemetery, Roman Catholics  have also been buried there since the 1920s.  It is an older monument type of cemetery.  There are many angels pointing the deceased to heaven,mt jerome angel 5x7 netmt jerome pointing angel 5x7 bw netin case the loved one might have lost their way to their heavenly reward.  There are many praying angels (perhaps for those who the living are afraid they have lost their way). mt jerome praying angel closer 5x7_netBut the one I liked the most was this giant dog on top of a monumental grave howling to the sky.  Whether he is missing his master or protecting him it is hard to tell.mt jerome dog full 5x7 bw net

The Glasnevin Cemetery has a more national pride vibe.  This is a description from Wikipedia of the desperate circumstances that the Roman Catholics (who were the majority of the people living in Ireland) were reduced to when trying to bury their dead. “Prior to the establishment of Glasnevin Cemetery, Irish Catholics had no cemeteries of their own in which to bury their dead and, as the repressive Penal Laws of the eighteenth century placed heavy restrictions on the public performance of Catholic services, it had become normal practice for Catholics to conduct a limited version of their own funeral services in Protestant churchyards or graveyards. This situation continued until an incident at a funeral held at St. Kevin’s Churchyard in 1823 provoked public outcry when a Protestant sexton reprimanded a Catholic priest for proceeding to perform a limited version of a funeral mass.[2] The outcry prompted Daniel O’Connell, champion of Catholic rights, to launch a campaign and prepare a legal opinion proving that there was actually no law passed forbidding praying for a dead Catholic in a graveyard. O’Connell pushed for the opening of a burial ground in which both Irish Catholics and Protestants could give their dead dignified burial.”  This was not that long ago.  Daniel O’Connell is buried in this graveyard underneath a very tall round tower.O Connells grave 5x7 net We paid for a tour (€10 each) and got to go into his crypt under the tower.  We had an excellent tour guide Niall who told us all the stories of the National heroes who are buried in this cemetery.Glasnevin cemetary guide Niall net  This photo was taken in the O’Connell crypt.  One of the creepier things was that in a room adjacent to O’Connell’s tomb, there is a pile of caskets stacked up.Glasnevin cemetery Oconnell coffins netThese caskets belong to direct decedents of the great man who want to be buried with him.  There is only one caveat,  only their bodies can be stored here.  No wife, child, husband or auntie allowed to be with them.  I believe there are only 9 decedents who have decided to take the cemetery up on their offer. So far. And there is not much room left.

The most famous Irish hero buried here is Michael Collins ( yes, that man in the movie Michael Collins).Michael Collins grave 5x7 netThere are always fresh flowers on his grave and there is a mysterious French woman who comes every year to say a prayer and put flowers on his grave.  This is what the site IrishCentral has to say about her.” A mysterious French lady will visit Michael Collins’ grave once again this year (2016) , continuing a 15-year tradition since she fell in love with the Irish revolutionary after watching the movie “Michael Collins”. She is known as the “Mysterious French Lady” and she appears like clockwork at his grave and lays them down gently before saying a prayer. The woman has been identified as Veronique Crombie, a lecturer at the French National Museum who admits to a passionate love for the Irish revolutionary.”

Here are some other photographs of the graves in this giant cemetery.Glasnevin cemetery celtic cross 5x7 netgrave angel old 5x7 netThe Irish are very good at honoring their recent political heroes who fought so hard to secure their rights and to make their homeland a free Republic.