Sunshine and Gold

Recently my mum (who runs the wonderful blog stitchesoftime.com) did a blog post about my favorite medieval outfit, so I though I would share it with you all!

Hello everyone, am back from my very hot and brilliant event and a quick National Trust houses tour with Ellie. We saw four very beautiful properties and have had a thoroughly splendid time, got lots of photos to edit in between the work stuff this week. Not been doing much crafting due to being away, […]

via Sunshine and gold — Stitches of Time

I have since that point finished beading the braid along the coat, and I am really happy with the finished effect.

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I am sure there will be better pictures of me wearing the whole ensemble to come, especially as I am planning on making a few new accessories to go with the outfit too, so keep an eye out for that.

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Re-enactment round-up!

Alas, re-enactment season has come to an end for another year, but oh it was so much fun! I thought I would share a few of my favorite photos from this year with you all.

I can’t wait to do it all again next year!

If you want to see more of our group, The Swords of Mercia, check out our Facebook page by clicking here.

Cannon Hall’s got it all!

Cannon Hall is a lovely little farm near where I grew up that I have visited many, many times as a child. Me and my lovely little brother had a little ‘staycation’ at mum’s house recently and decided to revisit the farm on a day out, and there was much more to see than we remembered.

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As an added treat the house at Cannon Hall (which I didn’t know existed) had an exciting exhibition; the costumes of Downton Abbey!! Bless my little brother for indulging me 😀 He’s a very good egg.

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The house itself is largely empty today, leaving room for temporary exhibitions and the museum full of glass and pottery. The stately rooms provide a very fine backdrop for the Downton costumes.

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There was Sybil’s First World War nursing uniform and Mrs Patmore and Daisy’s kitchen-wear, which I took lots of photos of for our own Below Stairs project. Daisy’s apron had a pattern printed on the fabric which I had never noticed in the show.

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Lady Violet’s dress has the most amazing bead-work across the top. So much effort has gone into the detail of the costumes that you couldn’t notice unless you get close to them in real life, but it all adds to the fabulous glamour of the tv show.

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The Crawley ladies dresses were obviously amazing, although I was surprised by how tiny they were. No chance of me being able to squeeze into any of them! There were day dresses in the Drawing Room and the Dining Room was set out ready for a sumptuous looking dinner, completer with gorgeous evening-wear.

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Even Mrs Huges, the Housekeeper, has a lovely costume. I particularly like the accessory on her belt to keep her keys and scissors always handy. Pretty and practical.IMAG1789IMAG1792

Anna’s ‘posh’ maids outfit has some lovely lace on the apron and we even got to see Lord Grantham’s pajamas! If, by the way, for some strange reason you have never seen Downton Abbey I really recommend it, it is one of my favorite tv shows ever!

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On the day we decided to visit Cannon Hall was hosting a huge food fair! I love food so was very excited about this. We had a lovely lunch in the sunshine and a wander around looking at all the delicious things for sale before heading for the farm.

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The farm has changed quite a lot since my last visit. The biggest change, a very disappointing one for me, was that you can no longer let the animals eat from your open palm. I used to love feeding the animals so much and was looking forward to going back and doing this again. You can still buy bags of animals feed but you now have to pour the food down a metal chute into the animal’s pens. Damn health and safety spoiling our fun!

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The animals however are just as cute as they always have been. There were goats, sheep, chickens, pigs galore and even reindeer!

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The tiny piglets were adorable and there were even bunnies you could stroke! Cuteness overload!

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Can’t beat a day out that contains sunshine, pretty things, lovely dresses, history, adorable animals and good food! Brilliant.

A sneaky peak at Barrington Court

So after a little interruption I’m back to blogging about my trusty holiday, and I’ve still got five properties to tell you about!

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After Montacute House we popped across to Barrington Court, another lovely property very close by. In contrast to a lot of Trust properties Barrington does not have a collection of objects inside, but this gives visitors room to focus on the stunning collection they do have. The Trust actually took Barrington on in 1907 when they were still a very young charity, and were ultimately rescued from a property with an upkeep cost they could not meet by renting the property out.

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The Lyle family were tenants between 1920 and 1991 and, with the help of his architect James Edwin Forbes, renovated Barrington. Colonel Arthur Lyle was an avid collector of salvaged carved wood. After he leased the house he seems to have found the perfect place to display his fab collection, and it remains there today.

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We were given a floor plan and allowed to roam on each floor. The floor plan has more information about the rooms that guide book, which focuses more on the gardens of the property.

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The main staircase is absolutely stunning, with a huge chandelier hanging over the beautiful, wide stairs. It was rebuilt by Lyle but includes 17th century banisters and modern oak aged to fit the atmosphere of the house.

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I loved the painted detail in the Great Hall. The room was re-designed for entertaining with a sprung floor installed in 1920 too. I would love to have been invited to some of the parties the Lyle’s held in this house!

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The only things left in the house were the fitted bathrooms, featuring a lovely selection of Delft tiles. All of the toilets have little notices on them letting people know that they are not working toilets and therefore, not to be used. The friends I was visiting with asked if all these signs were really necessary, and I assured her that they are, and that you do not want to know how I know that! It was quite odd walking from one empty room into a fully fitted bathroom and back into another empty room.

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The Long Gallery was beautiful in its simplicity and scale. It runs across the entire top floor of the E shaped property, and is empty except for facts on little A frames. I thought this was a really nice touch, allowing you to enjoy the space. There was a little fact about children riding bicycles in the room on rainy days, which must have been so much fun for them! A little (large) part of me did want to slide along the floor, or roller skate around.

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Currently Barrington has a display of costume used in ‘Wolf Hall’, which was filmed at both Montacute and Barrington. You can find out more about the Trust’s involvement in the TV series by following this link. However when we visited the costumed were not yet on display, and we were really disappointed not to be able to see them. It seems though, it was our lucky day!

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One of the members of staff that welcomed us to the house actually took us up to see the costumes in store when we told them we wouldn’t be able to come back and see them. And I didn’t even mention that I worked for the Trust too, just a brilliant example of someone fulfilling their Service Promise.

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All the costumes have such amazing attention to detail. They are really beautiful and it was amazing to get up close to these garments we had seen on TV. All of them are hand finished and I just love that the BBC put so much into creating these costumes. It shows a real respect for the story and the period, and having really good quality clothing in such amazing locations makes for amazing looking TV.

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We were so grateful to have been allowed a sneak preview at the display. Anyone who enjoyed Wolf Hall or has an interest in the Tudor period should definitely try to visit and have a look! The costumes will be on display until the end of October.

The gardens had the charm of a little country cottage garden even though the scale was much larger. They had been designed as several outdoor rooms, which gave them a cosy intimate feel.

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The ‘Bustalls’ (used to rear Veal Calves) has now taken on a very quaint quality with roses and vines growing around the arches.

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The more modern stable block, Strode House, was built in 1674 by William Strode to show off his wealth were adapted for human habitation in 1920 and now house the restaurant. There were lots of nice little touches here down to the cut glass beaker which really reflected the style of the room.

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Barrington also has a huge second-hand book shop which we spent a long time browsing in. There are also several artisan shops by the book shop, one of which being the most amazing quilting shop I have ever been in, called simply ‘Barrington Patchwork‘. I have never seem such a range of pretty fabrics, and I have been in a lot of fabric shops! I’m very sad it’s not closer to home but my bank account will be breathing a sigh of relief.

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I could imagine myself living in a house like Barrington, maybe it doesn’t have to be quite as big. The woodwork is beautiful and maybe the house being empty of furniture helped my imagination. And I could fill it full of furniture from Andy Thornton’s! Well, a girl can dream.

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A walk in the Park

Lyme Park to be precise.

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A few weeks ago, when we were having a spell of lovely weather, I took a drive through the peaks and up to Lyme Park to enjoy the sunshine! Now I have to be honest, I’m usually all about the houses when I go Trust visiting but I am so glad I took the time to wonder around the amazing gardens.

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There is a lovely Orangery in the gardens where I sat for a while listening to the fountain, so calming. It has a lovely tiled floor and when I was there it smelled divine thanks to whichever plants they had flowering in there.

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Outside the Orangery the tulips were out in bloom and they looked brilliant! Tulips are my favorite flowers, they are simple yet come in such a variety of lovely bold colours. We have had a lot at Hardwick at the moment and they’re such cheerful flowers.

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I used to visit Lyme occasionally when I was younger and my brother and I used to run through rhododendrons, it was one of our favorite adventures, exploring and finding dens in the trees and bushes. It was nice to tread these paths again, around every corner there was something else to discover.

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The whole park is so scenic, and the house looks great from every angle.

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The house and gardens were built in an Italianate style, and the house has a strange design where there is a courtyard in the middle and the four sides tower above you. To top of the theme there are several Roman gods perched on the roof of the South Front.

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The Italian gardens are beautiful, ever so neat and symmetrical, which really appeals to me. I don’t think I have even been so impressed by gardens as I was by Lyme’s (the beaming sunshine helped a huge amount I’m sure). They were blooming lovely! (I’m so sorry, I couldn’t resist).

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Of course I did also venture in the house. Unfortunately due to a lot of their collection being loaned items you cannot take photos inside the house, which is a shame because there are some really lovely rooms and pieces I wanted to share with you.

The front door stands above a grand double staircase that leads into the Entrance Hall, where when we visited a volunteer was playing the piano. This added a layer of atmosphere to the room, but it was somehow stifled by walking almost straight from the front door into a rope sectioning off most of the room.

©National Trust Images/Stephen Robson

©National Trust Images/Stephen Robson

I think the Drawing Room was my favorite room, ornate but cosy looking furniture, a lovely ceiling and the most amazing stained glass window that would not have looked out-of-place in a cathedral. The library was nice as they had made replica furniture that people could sit on, and read a book if they wanted. These were made only a few years ago and yet already one of the armchair seats has worn through, a good example of why we can’t let everyone touch our collections! The images below shows the Drawing Room not quite how I saw it, but you can see the lovely features it has.

The Drawing Room

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However Lyme’s story did not really come across on my visit, which was a shame because from the snippets I saw it should have been a really emotive and interesting story of how the wars affected the Legh family and their estate. The tag line is ‘Lyme – the end of a golden era’ but there is very little information about this era on the tour of the house, and I didn’t get a sense of the people at all.

Edwardian me

The absolute highlight of the house had to be the Edwardian costume that visitors get the opportunity to dress up in. You can borrow and Edwardian outfit and wander around the house and gardens in it, which was of course right up my street! I really enjoyed my stroll as an Edwardian lady, I felt ever so glamorous. This is a fantastic feature for visitor engagement and well done to the team at Lyme for having such an ambitious idea and seeing it though!

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I think a lot of work must have been done at Lyme in the last few years because the house I saw is very different to the one in the guide-book, which was last revised in 2012. The guide-book only touches on the fall of the estate and again does not tell the story that Lyme are aiming to share. The house was really lovely, I was just frustrated by seeing hints of a story I didn’t then get to find out any more about. I hope this projects is just at the beginning, and that over time this story will be more obvious in the house.

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At the end of the day it was the stunning beauty of the house and park land that made an impression on me, and there is so much beauty to be found at Lyme Park.