I’m pleased to finally say that after 4 years Leith Hall has now re-opened! Some of you may remember I did manage to visit before the closure and found it a lovely little treasure house. Sadly, it has not been able to open until now.
Massive improvements have been made in the house, tea-room and garden and the Hall opened to the public for the first time on Friday, the main celebration happening yesterday (Sunday).
Do pop along to show your support and see all the good work that’s been done. I’m off to see it as soon as I can – when I last saw it I was helping to pack the collection away for the imminent building works…
It was so good to get back to London for a week!
I managed to see awesome members of family and fabulous friends to catch up and check out what they had been up to (my Aunt has taken to making awesome gemstone jewellery, which I’ll share some pictures of later as I bought some of her unique pieces).
Good people, good food – caught up with one of my fabulous fellow writers from Tuscany, AND I managed lots of revisits, sightseeing and shopping!
Places included -
- National Gallery
- National Portrait Gallery
- Tate Britain
- Westminster Abbey
- Sir John Soane Museum
- British Museum
- Apsley House
- St. Paul’s Cathedral
- Hyde Park
- City of London
Here are a few highlights:
St. Paul’s CathedralBritish Museum
I am SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS!
The art collection once belonging to Britain’s first Prime Minister Robert Walpole is on a visit back from The Hermitage in Russia for the first time since Catherine the Great bought it after his death more than 250 years ago.
I am hoping to get down there in July to see it at Houghton Hall, and will let you know if I do.
Anyone else excited?
You can read more about it and the hall here.
Am working on some new posts and reviews, but am a little brain dead from work and study at the moment.
In the meantime, I thought I’d share the amazing watercolour my friend Elinor made for me of my favourite house Audley End. Audley is now in the care of English Heritage, so do go and visit it!
Talking of houses, I visited Bolsover Castle some years ago now. Did anyone else watch the programme on it and its owners this week with Lucy Worsley?
Here is my lovely gift – please don’t use this image without permission:
Not a house that I’d particularly heard about before, but a friend suggested we go over for the Open Day tour to Hospitalfield House, Arbroath.
Before we went to the main house however, we stopped off at the Fraser family, later Allan-Fraser mausoleum (or mortuary chapel), which is in the Western Cemetery and not too far away. Let me tell you it is an astounding place! I’ve seen a few mausoleums, mostly in pictures – but never anything like this. Built in the neo-Gothic style it has a frankly strange mixture of architectural styles and looks large enough for the average family to live in. A must visit – especially on Doors Open Day, which is normally September time where you can actually go inside. Maybe I’ll do that next year.
Hospitalfield House itself, as the name suggests, was actually built originally as a hospice run by monks from Arbroath Abbey (which you can also visit the ruins of). In the Seventeenth century however, it was bought by the Fraser family and from then on until the late nineteenth century was used as a family home.
When viewing the house now, it retains much of its Victorian décor – which it owes to its’ final owners the Allan-Frasers, also its art collection. Patrick Allan, later adopting the name Allan-Fraser – having no children – Patrick and his wife Elizabeth Fraser decided that if Patrick outlived her, he would leave the house in a trust to provide young people with training in art.
This happened in 1890, and though much of the original estates have been swallowed up to continue the trust’s work – Hospitalfield continues with this work to this day.
You can study and attend events at Hospitalfield House, and do think about booking for the next Open Day.
I had been wanting to go and see Cawdor Castle for a few years, but not had the excuse to just get on with it and go until I heard that The Antiques Roadshow were going to be there! To my knowledge, they don’t visit that many locations in Scotland, at least during each year’s filming. I do love watching other people’s treasures – especially family stories.
We decided we didn’t really have anything we wanted valued, so packed ourselves off to the station to get the train to Nairn, outside of Inverness – which is the closest to Cawdor and the castle. For June it wasn’t really warm and the weather was pretty atrocious, as was the non-existent bus service available to Cawdor, but hey-ho we got there and immediately loved the castle and gardens.
The castle is beautiful, and reminded me a little of Fraser, the rooms are also really comfortable looking – which is much in keeping with the fact that it is still a family home. Enjoyed some of the paintings too – especially the portraits which were over the front desk where you show your tickets. Had a nice wander around the shop to get my obligatory guide book, and to read more about the tree preserved within the castle itself…
Time for a final wander around the gardens (loved the roses) and to take some pictures and generally people watch the visitors and spot AR experts! This is when I spotted this before we left:
Right in the centre you’ll spot the presenter Fiona Bruce! It was nice to see her, if only at a distance. The programme I believe is scheduled for the end of 2012, early 2013.
And I didn’t even manage to mention THAT Scottish play in this post!
*UPDATE The programme has now been shown. You can see a clip here.
On a rare open day, the Mum and I went to visit the privately owned Lickleyhead Castle.
Included was afternoon tea too! We really enjoyed ourselves on the quick castle tour (mostly modern decoration) and our lovely sit down tea. Good chance to chat to other interested folks too.
Hope they do it again next year!
Some brand new, some fairly new ones here:
- English Country Houses Interiors by Jeremy Musson
I love any books by Musson.
- Bergere, Poke and Cottage: Understanding Early Nineteenth Century Headwear by Serena Dyer
I am really in need of some good hat books!
- The Late King’s Goods by Jeremy Brotton
Charles I’s art collection was amazing. I know a little about what was recovered, but not enough…
- Spas, Wells & Pleasure Gardens of London by James Stevens Curl
I have his book on the Victorian way of death – and:
- Vauxhall Gardens by David E. Coke
I’ve always been fascinated by the pleasure gardens, as so little of them survives.
I have been over the Summer wandering around some city graveyards during my lunch – the largest of which is St Peter’s Cemetery, Aberdeen.
This is a massive cemetery on King Street, and has graves from the Eighteenth Century, but the majority are Victorian. There’s some great monuments and carvings, I especially like that many occupations are included and the Scottish tradition of including women’s maiden names. Very handy if you’re a genealogist.
I took some pictures of some of the more unusual monuments (there were A LOT of broken shaft style ones, must have been a buy one get one free offer!) but the most intriguing one, is below. Read the top part carefully…
This sale is certainly interesting to me for a number of reasons historically and art-wise, but not least because the contents of Dunecht House are included in the sale.
Cowdray Park, when I last heard is also up for sale, but this September sale is the contents of both the houses. From pictures to light fittings, furniture to carpets – though officially it is classed as an art sale.
The sale is from the 13-15 September 2011, and you can view an e-catalogue, listings or buy the catalogue online from Christie’s. You may even be able to bid online should you wish to.
Cowdray Park Sale: Works of Art from Cowdray Park and Dunecht House – at Cowdray Park, West Sussex.
Hmm, to buy or not to buy a catalogue…