Chatsworth Gardens, July 2018

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On the day we went to Chatsworth, I spent some time exploring the gardens.  They are world famous- the fountain (above) is one of the most interesting features, but there are many….

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Surprisingly, unlike many other gardens we have visited in England, there were no flowers which were apparent.  (It seems that they were in another part of the garden which I missed) but I did get the chance to see the spectacular water features everywhere..

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As well as an odd collection of Yew bushes…IMG_9283 (1)

The Serpentine walk (one of symbols of the Devonshire family is the serpent.)

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And my favorite part- the Tree of Brass which spouts water from its branches!

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Finally, there was some lovely park land with gravel roads to walk along.  I even came across this beautiful Elephant sculpture.

I throughly enjoyed the Chatsworth Gardens.  *It is worth noting that when in England this summer, it was clear that they were experiencing a massive drought… everywhere which would normally be green was brown, and the fountains at Chatsworth were at perhaps 40% the normal capacity.

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The Orangery

And finally, an homage to the great Joseph Paxton Green house of the 19th century- which was sadly pulled down due to the exorbitant  expense of coal heating it required.  It still does, however, maintain the famous Lily pads!

If you have any more interest in Chatsworth, as I did, I highly recommend this documentary:

http://www.pbs.org/program/secrets-chatsworth/

Chatsworth, Interior July 2018

Greetings! I have taken a slight hiatus from writing to do some traveling.  Now that I am home again, I thought I would start to share some of my latest adventures.  I was fortunate enough to get another chance to travel to England in July.  During our trip, we went to Chatsworth.  Now Chatsworth, is, frankly,  the epitome of the stately home.  It is the gold standard of country houses.  (Sorry to the other beauties out there: Blenheim and Burghley.) 

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There is so much to cover, that I know I will not do Chatsworth justice.  It is hard to get a photo which accurately shows the the magnificence of this house, but  you can see above the view from the gardens which somewhat conveys the scale.

The painted entrance hall alone is breathtaking…

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I think one of the aspects of this house which makes it stand out, is the vast collection of treasures it still contains.  It has a very personal feel, there are small objects as well as famous paintings which are displayed everywhere and the attention to detail is extraordinary.

 

The gold leaf window frames and the contemporary art in the interior court yard show how this house seems to mix the modern seamlessly with the past.

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Above is a picture of one of the state rooms.  The gold is really breathtaking.  I believe that these rooms rarely inhabited, which is a pity.  Below is a portrait of Georgiana Cavendish, the wife of the 5th Duke.  I read the biography by Amanda Foreman before coming to see Chatsworth, which gave great insight into what life was like in this house during the Georgian period.

 

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The amount of art is also really staggering.  What I will call the “secondary staircase” is nearly covered with portraits….(and of course the two malachite urns are stunning.)

Chatsworth boasts 40 bedrooms which might seem excessive, until you remember that these country houses acted largely as hotels for invited guests, and they are, in many cases in the middle of nowhere.  (According to my good friend Wikipedia, more that half of the house is closed to visitors, which, considering the number of rooms on display to visitors means that this truly a giant.  Interestingly, it did not feel as vast as it actually is…I myself could live there quite comfortably 😉

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So many small details were what made this place special.  They had put down special foam rubber matts on the floor which looked exactly like the floorboards and matched the real rugs on display.  The servants staircase, which we took at one point in the tour, was decorated with empty picture frames to illustrate, in my opinion, the number of works of art which had been sold. (*Note: I have no basis for this, it is just my opinion.)

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The library (above) was also spectacular.  We were not allowed to enter, but as you can see from the doorway, it is really stunning.

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Finally, we saw the dining room.  The ceiling was, again, gold leaf.  The silver service, I think speaks for itself.  The detail on the candlesticks was astounding- there were intricate figures and representations of stags as well as tiny curled leaves.

I loved Chatsworth.  IT has been called “Britain’s favorite country house” and it is easy to see why.  In addition to being very grand, it also has a personal feel, and the visitor gets the feeling that they are visiting a home in which people actually live (albeit on a very grand scale.) Until next time!

Luton Hoo, England 2016

Hello travelers! I hope you had a nice weekend.  I thought I would share with you my visit to Luton Hoo Hotel from June 2016.  It is a spectacular luxury hotel in what was a grand country estate.

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Above is my mom standing at the side entrance.  I learned about Luton Hoo after seeing the same stairwell in several films.  It was so spectacular that I kept noticing it- and I am sure it will look familiar to many of you as it has been in everything from Eyes Wide Shut to various James Bond films to War Horse.

 

While this was mildly interesting to me, the building itself and especially the gardens were what I found fascinating.  During our explorations of the grounds we came across a grass tennis court…

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We also found a Japanese inspired garden – which I wish I had more photos of because it was so lovely and picturesque.  It had many cute water features and stone walk ways. Below is unfortunately the best picture I took.IMG_3958

At the end of our ramble we encountered one of the great features of the English county estate: The haha! This clever design element allows for an uninterrupted view of the landscape and fields without running the risk of any cattle or sheep to come too close to the main building.  Thee can be seen all over England.  We also saw them at Rousham.

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I am not sure if the picture does it justice- it is quite formidable and if one should foolishly decide to jump into it, (as I may or may not have done) it is really hard to get back out again!

I would highly recommend Luton Hoo- if you like expensive hotels and feel like a splurge, this would be the place to do it! (I should also note that the hotel is now surrounded by a golf course which seems to draw many people here. Also weddings. Lots and lots of weddings!

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Knebworth, England June 2016

Last night, I was watching one of my (embarrassingly) favorite shows, Midsomer Murders.  The episode featured a house I visited in June 2016.  I thought this was serendipitous, as I have been thinking of writing a post about Knebworth already.

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I chose to visit Knebworth after I had seen many British TV shows and movies which had been filmed there. (Once again- extensive and scholarly research was done).  The house itself is strange: looking very much like a Victorian idea of what a castle should be. (It is described as, confusingly, “Tudor Gothic”).

The most famous resident of Knebworth is Edward Bulwer-Lytton.  He is was a Victorian novelist: he notably coined the term “the pen is mightier than the sword”, “the great unwashed” and “it was a dark and stormy night…” among other literary pearls.  The interior, which sadly I do not have pictures of, is a museum of sorts, paying homage to his life and literary accomplishments.

The gardens are spectacular.  Full of interesting pathways and breathtaking roses.  My favorite aspect of the garden was the pollarded lime tree walk.  I like (pollarded trees.)

There were some other interesting things to see in the grounds- a dead tree which had the former trunks carved into whimsical woodland women.

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We also stumbled across a very cute bamboo bower…

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and several artistic fountains and boxed hedges.  We also discovered that the garden contained a giant Sequoia tree, which was quite unexpected as this was England- not northern California.

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Overall, our visit to Knebworth was fantastic! I would encourage everyone to see it for themselves.  (But be sure to do plenty of British TV watching before hand so you can become an “expert” like me 😉 )

 

Rousham, Oxfordshire, June 2016

My favorite Garden of all time

During our trip to England in June 2016 we spent one day visiting Rousham.  This is a lesser known estate just outside of Oxford.  I first learned about it via the famous Monty Don and a show about it on Youtube. (again, quite extensive research on my part.) I was struck with the elegant simplicity of William Kent’s garden design and wanted to see for myself.  I was not disappointed.  For the true lover of English gardens, this one is absolute perfection.  It mixes expansive green lawns, wooded pathways and various garden “rooms.”

 

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The day we visited was a bit muggy, so sadly my pictures are slightly hazy.  The lawns above overlook the river.  The design is simple and elegant and the differences in the shades of green is remarkable- I think Kent was interested in the contrasting greens as it is very noticeable.

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The wooded pathways lead to small follies, this one being a imitation ruined Roman temple.  (These small shelters can be found in most English gardens- smart given that there is a great deal of rain and it is easy to get caught out in a storm far from the house. Also, it seems they were perfect for assignations as well as picnics.)

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After an ill-fated attempt to reach the river below the folly in which I had my first encounter with Nettles (they are awful and sting like nothing else. Very glad I never had to contend with nasty little plants before) we decided to visit the walled garden adjacent to the house. It was spectacular.  Above is me standing in one of the immaculately maintained box hedges.

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One of the interesting features of this garden were the trained fruit trees- these are trees which are carefully pruned each year so that they grow in a particular shape.

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This garden is full of lovely little pathways with over hanging flowers and small fountains.  One of these even had a tiny walkway for newts to climb in and out. (Sadly I don’t have a picture of this.) The roses were unlike anything I have seen before. The air full of the fragrance.

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Finally, we visited the Dovecote.  This round building was designed to house doves and the interior was filled with small little nooks where doves made their nests.  (As you can see, it is mostly pigeons living there right now.) It added to the overall perfection of the garden.

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Roushham was spectacular.  We were free to wander around the garden uninterrupted for as long as we liked.  It was serene and natural.  The entire place felt calm and far away from everything. This is truly one of the most spectacular places I have ever visited.