Category Archives: Architecture

The (More Than) Six Month Book Haul

Two things I love – hunting for interesting things in junk/collectible/antique shops and finding history/art books.  So, in over six months, I have hunted down the following lovelies that I have been looking for for a while:

  • Mark Girouard, Life in the English Country House & The Victorian Country House
  • Stella Tillyard, Citizen Lord (First edition!)
  • Eugenie Fraser, The House by the Dvina & A Home by the Hooghly
  • Colin Thompson, Pictures for Scotland: National Gallery of Scotland and its Collection
  • Christy Bing, The Lairds of Arbuthnott
  • Richard Taylor, How to Read Churches
  • Alison Weir, Katherine Swynford
  • Ronald Pearsall, Table-Rappers: The Victorians and the Occult
  • Leonardo da Vinci 1989 Exhibition Catalogue
  • Margaret Whinney, English Sculpture 1720-1830
  • Jan Marsh, The Venetian Empire
  • Titian Exhibition Catalogue
  • Paintings from the Royal Collection
  • The Edwardian Country House
  • Plumb and Wheldon, Royal Heritage
  • Marghanita Laski, Jane Austen and Her World
  • Phyllis Bentley, The Brontes and Their World
  • Arthur Foss, Country House Treasures
  • Susan Lasdun, Victorians at Home
  • Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth the House

That’s without the novels of course!

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New Castle Purchase?

Since I haven’t managed to set up my property empire yet with either Tillycairn or Midmar Castles, how about Blair Castle, Ayrshire instead?

Any takers?  It looks lovely inside…and it’s only 8 million.

Blair Castle, Ayrshire

Article about sale of Blair Castle

See posts – Anyone Want to Buy a Castle With Me?, How About This One Then? and Time For a New Castle, I Think for the previous castles for sale.

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Virtual Tours

The National Trust for Scotland I discovered recently has been putting online some virtual tours of their properties.  The particular reason I noticed is that they did one for the view from the top of the tower at the castle.

They are well worth checking out and having a play with – personally I tend to make myself a bit dizzy spinning the camera views around!

Another great reason for viewing is if you wouldn’t otherwise be able to visit personally.

You can view them all here – Virtual Visits.  But my favourites are:

Castle Fraser

Craigievar Castle

Drum Castle

The House of Dun

I’m off to check out Falkland Palace next!  Have fun…

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Help Save Hartlebury Castle

Can you help Hartlebury?

I’ve been meaning to talk about Hartlebury Castle, Worcestershire for a while.  Not heard of Hartlebury before?  Well, if you’re a fan of historic buildings that you should find out more about it now!

The Hartlebury Castle Preservation Trust was formed to save the house for the benefit of the nation, and the house is known currently for – of course – the house, the gardens and for its library.  At the moment money is being raised to purchase it from its current owners, the Church Commissioners in order to restore it, and allow it to be used for all manner of activities for people to enjoy.

But, as they often say in adverts, that’s not all – once the castle has been successfully purchased, volunteers will also be needed!

Why not pop over to their website, and see if you can help?  You can also follow their progress on Twitter.

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Field Trips Galore!

Just a quick hello, to thank everyone who has supported me with my study and exams recently – I passed with flying colours!

I am now doing several more History of Art and Scottish History courses.  I thought my regular readers might enjoy hearing about the Field Trips I am doing for the History of Art one.

Every other week, after a lecture on the topic, we take the field trips.  We visited/are visiting the following places:

It’s amazing to get to go out and experience art first hand, and I’d really missed this during my course last term.  Though it’s nice to read books and look at pictures, nothing compares to the real thing – so make sure you get out there and experience some art near you very soon!

I’ve enjoyed all my visits, but I loved the galleries in Edinburgh, and so nice to be able to catch the Young Vermeer exhibition before it finished.  I’ve just recently finished reading The Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, so it was a funny coincidence too!

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I’m Watching You…

If you readers are anything like me, your radar systems will be working to identify any potential programmes about historic houses – so here are a few of my favourites from the past and present…

Castle in the Country – a BBC series, originally shown throughout the week, and then cut into episodes and repeated.  There have been several series now at different properties.

  • Glamis Castle (Summer 2005)
  • Castle Howard (Winter 2005)
  • Burghley House (Summer 2006)
  • Mount Stuart (Winter 2006)
  • Waddesdon Manor (Winter 2006)
  • Floors Castle (Summer 2008)
  • Berkeley Castle (Summer 2008)

I loved Glamis best of all, and have seen them all now repeated apart from some of Mount Stuart and Floors Castle.  You can often catch the repeats on UKTV Gold.

Another series I haven’t seen all of, is about The National Trust (England).  This has also been repeated on UKTV Gold.

One I particularly like also is Great Country Houses, which you can often find on Horse and Country TV as well as Berkeley – An English Country Estate.

More recent series include a lovely one only shown over 2005/2006 called The Curious House Guest and was originally shown on BBC2, and then repeated on UKTV Gold.  Presented by Jeremy Musson, an architectural historian who has written for Country Life Magazine and has several books to his name, it documented visits to houses still in private family hands in a very warm and welcoming way.  I miss this programme very much.

My last addition to the list for now, and a rather more fraught one is Country House Rescue, shown on Channel 4.  This documents a businesswoman’s attempt to help people save their country house homes or business or both from failure.  This is still running as far as I know.

A slight change from these, but just as excellent was Lost Buildings of Britain, from 2004.  Introduced by Simon Thurley, the series focused on:

  • Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
  • Nottingham Castle
  • Whitehall Palace
  • Fonthill Abbey
  • Glastonbury Abbey
  • Millbank Penitentiary

As the title suggests, these buildings are partially, or totally lost to us now and the series recreated them using original records and accounts.  My favourite were Fonthill Abbey and Millbank Penientiary – I recommend you read more on these two particularly.

I’m sure I will have forgotten ones that I love from here, but I will update if I remember more!  Please let me know if I haven’t seen something brilliant!

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Eleanor Restored

I was excited to hear recently that the Eleanor Cross at Charing Cross in London has been restored.  Though it is not an original cross, and in the incorrect place as well (outside Charing Cross station) I am still really fond of it.

It’s beautifully done, and also happens to be a Victorian replica, which makes it all the more attractive to me!

Check out the article and pictures on the BBC News website.

You can also see a postcard of the Charing Cross from my collection here (scroll down to the bottom image).

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Summer Visits

I managed to have some long overdue time off recently, and guess what?  I managed to squeeze in some castle visits!  Big surprise there eh?!

I went up to re-visit Huntly Castle, which is always a good one for a meander around, and picked up a book published by Historic Scotland called Clan and Castle.  It has a lovely section on Fraser castles and the different branches of the family, also included of course, is Castle Fraser.  A must buy then!

Went out with a friend to see Craigston Castle.  It’s a lovely private family home, which opens just a few times a year for visitors.  It reminds me in looks a little of Fyvie, a bit like a white-washed version.  It’s a really fascinating house, and do try and visit when you can.

Lastly, I took a trip around Pitmedden Garden.  I’d never had enough time to really look, and the Victorian house and the farming museum are really nice, but the gardens themselves are very old indeed, and beautiful.

I did my regular visit of Fyvie and Haddo last week too.  Yes, I am a castle junkie…did I mention I went to Glamis and Edzell Castles in April too??

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Monumental

Just ‘cos I’m in a postcard kind of mood.

The tomb of Queens Elizabeth and Mary at Westminster Abbey.  I love tombs, and I love wandering around them at the Abbey!

Following on from tombs, here is the Guard’s memorial.  A beautiful thing, not dissimilar to the Cenotaph – at least to me!  Got to love real photo postcards too.

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Why Am I Haunted by Venice?

For some reason at the beginning of this week, for at least three nights in a row I dreamt about Venice.  Why?  I just don’t know.  I haven’t watched, read, looked at or otherwise done anything remotely involving Venice.  Yet, here we are.

I should explain my relationship with Venice, such as it is.  Years ago, I think it was when I was in my mid to late teens my maternal Aunt bought me a book called Tregaron’s Daughter by Madeleine Brent.  My Aunt, it should be said was, and is, a fabulous book and trinket supplier :smile:

Tregaron’s Daughter is a mystery story set in Cornwall and Venice.  I don’t know what it was about it exactly, as the book isn’t about to set the world on fire, (though I still love it anyway) but it instilled in me a deep desire to visit Venice myself when I was older.  By the age of 20, I had fulfilled that dream.

I visited museums and galleries, including the Basilica San Marco and the Doge’s Palace, I took boat rides – including one on a gondola – and walked the length and breadth of Venice.  Sadly, I didn’t take very many pictures, and I think they are rubbish, so I won’t include them here!  The fact is, when I left all those years ago, I didn’t feel that I needed to return.

So why now?  No idea, not a clue.  I hunted out my photos (eek), found a couple of guidebooks, and most importantly – remembered my Venetian Palazzi book – which is gorgeous indeed.  Even while writing this I remembered my Venetian mask that I bought (I was enthralled by the mask and costume shops), but it doesn’t seem to be enough.

I suppose time will tell, but I cannot see myself getting to Venice any time soon, time permitting, never mind anything else!  So, I have ordered myself a second hand copy of Tregaron’s Daughter (no idea what I did with the last one) and a DVD of Francesco’s Venice which is supposed to be very good.  All I know is that for now, my subconscious mind will have to be content.

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