Posted in Inspiration

The Last Flowers of Summer? – Hardwick Hall

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Hardwick Hall and Gardens

 Earlier in the week I blogged about my visit to Hardwick Hall and Gardens. If you read my Tuesday post you’ll appreciate I got more than expected when I visited the house. 🙂

 My earlier visit to the beautiful gardens was I’m happy to say uneventful but enjoyable. In late August the flowers were not at their peak but there were still lots of beautiful flowers to be admired.

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There was also an exhibition of modern sculpture in the gardens depicting ‘The Men who Built Hardwick’.

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What I loved about the gardens was how family friendly they were. Children were encouraged to play on the vast grassy areas with hula hoops. ball games and skittles. A far cry from visiting stately houses when I was a child when ‘Keep Off The Grass’ was the most common sign. 😉

Continuing the activities for the young at heart there was some very cute trees with their own small doors for any Fae or small creatures that lived in the gardens.

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 If you prefer something more classical, these ladies should appeal?

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Definitely plenty of inspiration for a historical romance here?

Thanks to my lovely husband for taking the flower, house and statue photos for this post x

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Posted in Inspiration, Writing Journey

A Strange Experience in an Historical House.

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I always enjoy celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. Last Wednesday August 20th was my 31st wedding anniversary and as part of the celebrations Vince and I visited our local stately home Hardwick Hall, which is owned by the National Trust. As National Trust members we are regular visitors to the grounds since it is only five or so miles from where we live but  I have never visited the house, so we left the dogs at home with our daughter and set off for a few hours of exploring the house and gardens.

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The gardens although not in their full summer bloom were spectacular as you can see. I will blog about the gardens another time. The house was seriously impressive from the outside, it is notable for the amount of windows it has. It was built between 1590-1597  for Bess of Hardwick (1527-1608).  I was particularly interested in the tapestries for which  Hardwick is famous. Some of these have been sent away for specialist cleaning and restoration and the finished result is spectacular.

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The entrance hall was dark, despite the numerous windows. Most of the windows were screened to protect the tapestries from the sun and there were copious amounts of  dark wood paneling. So that explained the darkness but not the oppressive feeling I experienced after a few moments standing in the hall talking to one of the volunteers.

Undeterred  we carried on into the exhibition rooms adjacent to the entrance, which were dark with uneven floors. I tried to concentrate on the tapestries many were darkened by age. The longer I remained in the rooms the more disoriented I became. Initially I put it down to the low ceilings and darkness. I have suffered from severe vertigo in the past so I recognised the symptoms, dizziness, nausea and the inability to walk in a straight line but that didn’t explain the oppressive presence I also felt in those rooms.

I stuck it out as long as I could and then told Vince I had to get out of there. I wanted to see the rest of the house despite feeling ill so  we kept going up to the next floor and the amazing room where Bess of  Hardwick received her guests. This room was lighter with higher ceilings and seemed free of the oppressive presence  I sensed in the rooms below. The long gallery was also on this floor and it’s reputed to be haunted but I felt nothing there. Probably because there were lots of little children running about, which made us all smile.

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Then came the bedrooms, which were colour themed. The green room was opulent as the picture below shows. So was the blue room but it was also freezing. I don’t mean draughty. I mean icy cold. I couldn’t stay in the room long enough to take a photograph.

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The rest of the house was interesting and I will share my thoughts and photographs in another post but my lasting impression will be the oppressive presence of the lower rooms and the icy coldness of the blue bedroom.

I checked to see if anyone else had recorded a similar experience  and found this article, which mirrors my feelings about the blue bedroom.

I haven’t experienced anything like this for a number of years and certainly didn’t expect to feel so debilitated in a house full of tourists but I did. I will continue to visit the gardens and park and admire the grandeur of the house from outside but I don’t think I will be stepping inside anytime soon. 🙂

Has this happened to you? Check out my other ghostly encounters:

Have You Ever Stayed in a Haunted House?

Ghostly Experience in the Lake District.

Posted in Inspiration

Summer Holiday #2- Castles and Islands

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After a lazy morning reading and blogging we decided to explore Holy Island and Lindisfarne castle which is close to Berwick-upon-Tweed.

DSCN0763Lindisfarne is a castle on an island which is only accessible at low tide along a causeway. We arrived at  about three in the afternoon and I must confess I was a little apprehensive about driving across the causeway. There is something awe-inspiring about driving or walking for that matter on land which the sea claims as its own. When we arrived at the huge car park there was an electronic screen displaying the tide tables and I breathed a sigh of  relief; low tide lasted until 21.30 plenty of time for Vince, the dogs and I to explore.

Holy Island  although quaint and with lots of pretty gardens was a little commercial for my tastes. Food stalls , gift shops and lots of tea shops and restaurants predominate . However once you leave the village behind there is a spectacular view of Lindisfarne castle  and the surrounding countryside.DSCN0759

DSCN0751       DSCN0752Lindisfarne castle is owned by the National Trust. Sited on a volcanic mound Beblowe Craig it was built in the 16th century to protect the island’s harbour. Stones from the demolished priory following Henry Vlll’s dissolution of monasteries were used in its construction. 

Lindisfarne was redesigned in the early 1900s by architect Edwin Lutyens for the founder of Country Life Edward Hudson. He used the Edwardian country house as a retreat.

Today it is open to the public and used for weddings. A wedding party was just leaving when we arrived. As we had the dogs we didn’t want to go inside which was fortunate as it is usually closed on Mondays. 🙂  

DSCN0773There were some beautiful flowers growing  up the side of the castle which made it look spectacular.  I think these are a type of marsh orchid.

Bamburgh castle which we visited on Sunday is visible across the bay and proves the point that Northumberland is a county of castles.

I managed to get this distant shot just before it rained.

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