Exploring on our way to Bath today. First stop was the lovely
Barrington Court, the first house acquired by the National Trust in
1907. Built in the 1500s in the Elizabethan manner, the house was in
a significant state of disrepair on acquisition. The Trust, in its first
years of operation, found themselves in the embarrassing position
of being the keeper of the national treasures, but without the
money to do so. The Lyle family stepped in, taking the property
over under a 99 year lease and completely restoring it and
establishing magnificent gardens along the way.
The house was interesting, but largely empty; the real show case
was the garden. The entry point walked us through the vegetable
gardens in full summer crop, surrounded by a brick walled fence
against which pear and cherry trees had been espaliered. The
garden supports the restaurant on site and was a fully organic affair.
The jewel in the crown though was the flower garden. Simply
stunning – masses of roses, poppies in every colour, peony roses,
lavender in full bloom and bumble bees at every turn. It was my very
picture of a perfect garden. Gorgeous. I could have happily sat with
a book for hours taking in the scenes around us. Instead we took the
opportunity to try the garden produce by having lunch in the
restaurant, which was lovely. Crayfish tails with a garden salad and
mango for me and chicken avocado and salad for Chris with apple
juice sourced from the orchard.
Still, time was of the essence and onwards we went with a side trip
to Stonehenge, a site so iconic and well photographed that I think
most of us could probably draw it from memory.
It was a bit of a circus, as expected, with coach loads of tourists
streaming past for a gander. One unexpected bonus was that a
perimeter has been placed around the stones so that the monument
itself is quite stand alone can be viewed and photographed easily
without hordes of tourists obstructing it. Very different to the time
Chris first visited in 1978 when you were able to wander through it
to your content. There has been some vandalism over time which
has no doubt led to these measures, and there are plans to build a
viewing platform well away from the monument and bus people to
it, to further enhance its visual impact. The information on the
solstices lining up with the formation was interesting – I didn’t know
that. Still, I can’t say I left feeling terribly enlightened as some claim
to be. I don’t think I got that gene.
We missed a turn off on the way to Bath which added a while to our
trip – not really welcomed at the end of a long day, but it did take us
through Bath for an initial peek.
Will explore it more thoroughly tomorrow.