Frampton Wool Barn, Manor House and Gardens

Tuesday 25th April 2017

We had a very nice afternoon although we ended up with a very small group indeed. Mrs. Clifford herself did the tour and was exceedingly knowledgeable about the house and its foibles as well as its history.  She is also a keen gardener as well as managing to fit in the lambing between tours!  The house tour included some very interesting things that had been recently found through some local archeological work on the under floors. It had several quirky bits to it that were not easy to find unless you already knew of them. The garden tour, although a little chilly and windy, was brilliant as she was able to answer everyone’s questions including those from the non-gardeners amongst us. It was followed by lovely home-made cakes and tea under the outdoor heaters, just outside the wool barn – which I had not realized was so very big inside. It had a number of very interesting aspects to it.  Some items still in use and other things which were recycled in the gardens.

The wool barn

Pam Weaver

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Little Malvern Court, Worcs.

Wednesday 3rd May 

Excellent car outing to Little Malvern Court. Perhaps this is the best time to see the Worcestershire country side …fresh greenery and blossoms and wonderful views of distant hills!  The house, owned by the same Catholic family since the 1500s has a  history from the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the decline of the Benedictine Priory to which it was attached. The mother of the present owner and the volunteer guide obviously shared a feeling of responsibility for the upkeep of this wonderful building and gardens. Mrs Berington is not herself a Catholic but she is very aware of the way her late husband’s family had struggled to keep their faith and their home.  I found it a fascinating  place….and the cakes at tea. were super. Thank you, Pam.

Alison Beardwood

Little Malvern Court

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Whitmore Hall, Staffs

Monday 19th June 2017

There cannot be many houses which have been owned by the same family for over 900 years….in this case the Mainwarings, descendants of the original Norman owners.  What a responsibility to inherit..or to marry into…such history. …no popping down  to IKEA for a new chair when English Heritage is regularly inspecting your home! But somehow, the family has managed to maintain an atmosphere of gracious comfort  and welcome. The family portraits, hung in historical order, told us that this is no ordinary family and the current Mrs Mainwaring was able to give a personal view of living with history, including being on the side of Cromwell, when many landowners took up the Royalist cause. The gardens, with lakes, woodland walks and, at this season, masses of rhododendrons, are beautifully laid out but not overwhelming in size….and the real treasure outside the house is the 17th C stable block.  a very rare feature. Personally I felt we were very privileged to be made so welcome to what is still very much a family home. Thank you Pam for a good choice.

Alison Beardwood

The stables at Whitmore Hall

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Kelmarsh Hall, Northants

Tuesday 18th July 2017

This was surely one of the best ways to spend a sunny summer’s day. Pevsner called the 1730s house “perfect” and  although society decorator Nancy Lancaster put her 20th Century mark on it, it was done with taste….and a seemingly bottomless purse!..,. enhancing rather than spoiling the original elegance. What we saw was a real “home” , comfortable but elegant, The Chinese Room…a bit out of character with the rest of the house…is, in itself , a unique feature with its hand painted figures and colours as vivid as Nancy herself enjoyed. The gardens and the surrounding meadows with the famous white cattle make this a very special place. There is an excellent tea room and plenty of seats dotted about the grounds. The house is now in the care of a Trust  whose members are dedicated to preserving Kelmarsh  with its family portraits and some beautiful antique furniture plus the welcoming  atmosphere enjoyed by the local ” hunting set” and Nancy Lancaster’s cocktail party guests.

Thank you Pam..a really good choice.

Alison Beardwood

Part of the extensive walled garden at Kelmarsh

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Cottesbrooke Hall and Gardens

Thursday 3rd August

If you like horses, especially racehorses, then this is the place to go. The house is full of beautiful paintings of Derby winners, Grand National winners and many other horse scenes. In fact it exhibits the largest collection of equine art in Europe.  The paintings include works by renowned artists such as George Stubbs, Ben Marshall and Sir Alfred Munnings.

However this is not just an art gallery, it is a fine family home with rooms that are lived in.  There are some lovely pieces of English and French furniture and a great deal of fine porcelain.

The tour of the house was followed by a garden tour and talk by Craig, the head gardener.  Craig has a wealth of knowledge and experience.  Not only did he show us the best features of the extensive garden but he gave expert advice to many of our group about their specific gardening problems.

All the staff were very friendly and made us very welcome.  A memorable day out to conclude our season of car outings.        

Many thanks to our organiser, Pam Weaver.

John Norman

Craig, giving the garden tour

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