Day Eighteen

We are in Somerset on the “upper coast” in the South.

We started the day by visiting the gothic manor house and gardens
of Tyntesfield, a grand 1850s estate, built by, as the brochure
mentions, the richest commoner of the time. For the period, it was
beyond opulent, but over four generations had fallen into gentle
decline.

The contents of the mansion were put under the Christie’s hammer
in 2002, and only just saved by the National Trust by raising over
four million pounds in 100 days. 11 years on, the restoration is a
slow process as the house is packed full of generations of
acquisitions and was in quite a poor state.

The public tour took in only a small fraction of the house, the extent
of which was only made clear when we went into the servants
quarters to see the room bells. In the day, a young boy sat under
the bells and announced each of the rooms that needed attending.
A very different way of life.

The house itself was very grand and infinitely detailed from the
outside, but the fact that the Trust had only acquired it 11 years ago
was apparent in the formal gardens which were years off achieving
the grandeur of other manor houses we have seen. Absolutely
stunning trees though – some were hundreds of years old. At one
point we came across a series of felled pine trees, l counted the
rings and they were at least 150 years old. They were obviously
felled a while ago, but you could still smell the pine resin up close.
The estate boasted a magnificent redwood too, that dwarfed
everything around it. Have never seen one before – very impressive.

The stables were yet to be restored, but they must have been very
impressive in their day: herring boned brick flooring, cast iron
fencing and sinks in each horse’s bay. The name of each horse was
displayed on a cast iron plaque above their stable. Used for storage
at present, I spotted a ancient long discarded treadle sewing
machine that took me back to the one I had as a teenager. Still sorry
to have lost it following a moment of madness when I left home and
didn’t take it with me. It didn’t survive a subsequent cull and I found
out too late.

Off to our new location afterwards. We will stay here for a few days,
and explore a little of Glastonbury, Wells, and the Cheddar Gorge. I
feel cheese and bickies in our future.

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