Sunday, 8 September 2019

Llanerchaeron & the fashionable architect, John Nash

The name John Nash is forever linked to the fashionable London landmarks of Buckingham Palace, Marble Arch, Regent Street, the colourful Brighton Pavillion etc.

However, few know that he designed several solid, unpretentious but imposing country homes in Wales. We visited Llanerchaeron  also called Llanayron House. It was in the same family for a staggering 10 generations before the National Trust took it over. What an interesting home 

One of Nash's most important developments were a series of medium-sized country houses that he designed in Wales, these developed the villa designs of his teacher Sir Robert Taylor. Most of these villas consist of a roughly square plan with a small entrance hall with a staircase offset in the middle to one side, around which are placed the main rooms, there is then a less prominent Servants' quarters in a wing attached to one side of the villa. The buildings are usually only two floors in height, the elevations of the main block are usually symmetrical. One of the finest of these villas is Llanerchaeron, at least a dozen villas were designed throughout south Wales. 

What an interesting home in the beautiful Welsh countryside. Corbetta Powell was from a prestigious family near Aberystwyth & as a teenager, she stayed at the original house of the Lewis family which was much smaller. Her & William Lewis fell in love & married in 1786 at Llanbardarn church. 

They hired the fashionable young architect, John Nash to design an Italianate villa style home for them. It had elegant symmetry & was  comfortable rather than impressive, a family home to be lived in rather than for show. The downstairs rooms are comfortable & you can well imagine them being well used by the family for several generations - well thought out spaces which sit well in the lovely Welsh hills. 

The upstairs bedrooms were all light, airy & spacious, accessed by an elegant, but in keeping, staircase.

The house has an attached courtyard & buildings built to join to the house. The downstairs kitchen is in keeping with preparing food for a large family & visitors. There is a staircase leading down from the bright ladies parlour / study to the wine cellar below - very handy.

The bread ovens can be seen next to the kitchen range - the numerous ovens were probably in huge demand & I take my hat off to the skill of the cooks / bakers who prepared meals for so many people in such basic conditions.  How I would love a sideboard that large to have my lovely china to hand ... 

Those who romanticise this era do not appreciate how much work it all involved to keep it all going. The laundry room bears testament to how much work it must have been to keep all the bedding washed, pressed & ready for guests.

Look at the stove - it is the first time I have seen a stove with spaces to heat so many irons at once. I can only imagine how much work it was ....

Each process has its own space & at that time, I imagine they all had their own servants too. The brewery would have been an essential space when drinking water was not safe.

The bakery space with its many bread ovens, the stunning wooden dough proving container must have seen so many loaves of all sorts being prepared in it ...

The dairy & cheese making rooms - huge with so many different processes to make sure that the family were provided with milk, cream, cheese, butter etc

The billiard room contains the history of the family, a cut stump with its rings tells the story of 10 generations who lived there - a reminder how the whole estate relied on the farm, the kitchen gardens, the people, the butler, housemaids, housekeeper & numerous other servants, the larger community it was part of.

Another cluster of buildings housed the stable block with the tack rooms & carriage house - all essential in an estate of this size ...

Llanerchaeron also had its own farm to supply its needs - the cowsheds, chicken enclosures etc are beautifully laid out - essential part of the once large estates.

No large estate would have been without elegant walled gardens where produce was grown for the kitchen, flowers for the house & a herbs for medicine & cooking.

The river Aeron would have provided fresh fish & was home to wildlife on the estate too. The surrounding woods would have had deer, rabbits, fungi etc which would have been part of the culinary delights at meal times.

The elegant lake has outline of Thomas & Anne Lewis, who were equal partners, a modern marriage in 1892.

A fascinating visit - not long enough as it was at the end of our visit, but then a successful visit should leave you wanting more.

I sat surveying the lovely scenery while enjoying a welcome cuppa with a biscuit - that is why flasks are so useful.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have enjoyed exploring with me. I always read your comments & they are much appreciated, 
Dee ~💕~

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Visit Wales with me ...

Hi everyone,

I have neglected my blog due to a busy Summer & sometimes you just need a break to find your mojo again.

However, this week,  we offered to make a trip to mid Wales to pick up something for a cousin.  Our county of Shropshire borders on Wales & the vastness of the space, the mountains, waterfalls, animals & space just gladdens my heart. I grew up on a farm in Africa & I love space so Wales is always where I go to recharge my batteries.

I love to be free to explore at my own pace so when I can, I like to pack up a basket of drinks, biscuits, sandwiches & a salad to be able to just find a spot with a view for a picnic - the small things in life are important.

We love to photograph new places, hubby to add to google maps (he is a massive contributor) and me for my flicker photo stream. It is something we have always done so the cameras always go travelling with us ...

A fine place to explore a new village is always to pop in to the beautiful rural church yards - they tell the story of places - sometimes you see the same family names over & over again, families all settling in the same place, a network & I feel a pang of envy that some have that massive support system.

I am from a vast family that moved around Southern Africa, spread out, no particular village ours.

The churchyards also tell the stories of Wars on their memorials, of deaths by plagues, outbreaks of illness where some stones might pay testament to several children passing closely together.

The lovely Welsh village of Cilcennin with the dark headstones, the elaborate graves, the war memorial - they all tell a story.

St Nicolas Church in Churchstoke was another church with a surprising interior - the high ceiling & white walls gave it a quiet air of peace & tranquility. The church yard was home to some lovely stones, some quite elaborate ...  

The white chapel at Capel Bangor caught our eye & we stopped to read the information board which tells of the long history of this area. 

What a long history with the Roman road running through in AD 70-120, the forts,  the nonconformists & the history of the Methodist church & more - fascinating ... 

 The notice board gave a glimpse of the locked church - simple & honest ....

The Church was locked but the church warden was working close by in the cemetery & he came over to offer to open for us.  We chatted about the area, the history & he shared that he not only looks after the immaculate grave yard, but he also polishes the brass, plays the organ & hands out the prayer books. He is one of those rare people who make a huge contribution to their community in their quiet way - I am glad we crossed paths & shared a chat.

The black & white details on the buildings in Kerry made us stop again - how lovely is this? 

The church is in the middle of the village / town & a good place for a mooch - how imposing is that bell tower. It actually rang out the hour while we were there. The church was locked but the elaborate church yard was worth spending time in anyhow.

Christians have worshipped in St Curig’s church in Llangurig since the 6th century - if the stones could speak, what a story they would tell...

The little Welsh town around the village church - down to earth, solid, honest ....

I hope you have enjoyed this little visit with me,  I will show you the John Nash designed home in the next post, it deserves its own space.

Thank you for bearing with my absence, please subscribe & leave a comment so I know you have visited the blog.
Dee ~💕~

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Exploring the Shropshire village of Badger


Do you like finding new places to visit & explore. I recently read an account in a national newspaper about cyclists finding tacks on their journey through the little Shropshire village of Badger; apparently the cyclists were not being sensible riders through the lanes in the village & they had raised the ire of the 120 inhabitants of this village. 

'Where is Badger?’ - I wondered. In fact it is not far from me, one of those many tiny Parishes, the tiniest Parish in England apparently. 

I did what any sensible person would & decide to visit it myself as it looked quite pretty with thatch roofs - not usual up here in the Midlands. 

According to the news reports: The Domesday Book informs us, rather quaintly, that the hamlet, which straddles the Shropshire and South Staffordshire border, once consisted of ‘4 smallholders with 1 plough and woodland for fattening 30 pigs’.

The Village is mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1086 & the name is Anglo-Saxon in origin. The village has the river Worfe & Snowdown Brook running close by, though a deep sided ancient wood called Badger Dingle.

We parked up & visited the pretty St Giles Church in the village.  The church is a Gothic Revival Architectural one,  squarish rather than a long building. It is an unassuming village church with pretty stained glass windows & a little chapel to the side with tributes to the illustrious of the village.

The stone in the centre of the two headstones is part of an ancient cross the once stood in the centre of the village ...

This unassuming village church has lovely stained glass & a side chapel dedicated to the illustrious of the village ...

We took a walk through the village & met up with the Church warden who stopped to chat. She recommended a walk to us & so having sensible shoes on, took her advice.

I love woodlands, being surrounded by green spaces is just so good for ones spirit - there were no other people in this side of the woods so it was lovely to just enjoy the space

The walk took us in to Badger Dingle, a deep sided valley with interesting geology - described as such:

The village and the area to its north stand on Upper Mottled Sandstone, a Triassic deposit found in many parts of the West Midlands. This has been used extensively for building in the village, including St. Giles church. It is very evident in the Dingle, along the Snowdon Brook, where there are outcrops, cliffs and caves, artfully exposed and enhanced in the 18th century landscaping of the valley. The eastern side of the parish lies on boulder claysand and gravel, or till, glacial deposits from the ice ages.

Through the trees we had a view of the Birdhouse in the Dingle but we only got a good view once we crossed the brook & went up on the other side of the hill. We managed to walk to a clearing & see it across the valley ... 

The view from across the valley - how fabulous it would be to have tea or bubbly on that balcony ... 

 The Birdhouse
The Birdhouse was designed circa 1783 as an architectural ornament, viewing platform and place of resort. Constructed of local sandstone, the building had a basement containing a service area and a main salon above with views out over the pool. The salon was heated by flues in the rear apsidal wall, which conducted heat from fires in the basement, a system based on the Roman hypocaust. 
Gracilla Boddington, who lived at Badger Hall during the 1 820s, describes idyllic summer evenings entertaining at The Birdhouse and rowing on the pool. The estate later passed to the Capel Cure family, who used The Birdhouse until the 1 930s, most notably for their curious exercise in role reversal - an annual tea party in which they waited on their servants!

I would love to have attended a party there, in this forest with a splendid view of the valley, brook & forest ...

Have a look around The Birdhouse as a rental - fascinating for an escape, however it is too close to me to justify  escaping to. 

This was the last part of our walk out of the valley - how beautiful & calming it is ...

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have enjoyed exploring with me. I always read your comments & they are always appreciated, 
Dee ~💕~

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Growing some organic salads for summer

Hi All

We had had a very wet start to our June - Shropshire had a staggering 168mm / 6 inches of rain this past week. It has curtailed our gardening but I always plant a little something because I just love the challenge of growing things.

My herb garden is established along the raised side of the house - away from any animals & they are quite protected there by a fence & the house which means that I have fresh herbs almost all year round.

I shared my new salad planters two years ago - the Elho planters with their covers are perfect for salads because they are protected from bugs too & being on legs they are a good height too. They are positioned on both sides of our back door, close to the kitchen & the herbs so it is easy to use them.

I happened across this interesting mix from Miracle grow - the seeds in a rough pellet mix which is sprinkled over the top of the soil, watered then that is it.

I bought just one bag, sceptical of it, however, I followed the instructions & sprinkled the contents then watered it.

It was quite amazing as the little pellets suddenly started expanding until they looked like soil rather than pellets - all this in a few minutes - an interesting development.

This is the planter after just 2 weeks - the new leaves are looking so well.

I was so impressed that I bought another 2 bags so I can grow a succession of leaves over the summer (I have 3 planters so it is a practical solution to a salad lover like me)

The seeds have been protected from the cool, wet weather by their covers.

These elho planters are perfect for a small garden, for those of us who enjoy growing a few things. 

I have 3 tomato pods in a trough too - they are also miracle gro ones in pods that I have not used before as I usually buy small plants but they are a little slower at coming on. 

I was impressed by having the seeds & growing medium in a pod that can be planted, very little effort but hopefully they will grow as well as the information says - I will keep everyone updated.  

Thank you for stopping by, your comments are always appreciated, 
Dee ~💕~

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Enjoying our lovely canals ...

How welcome the bright, warmer weather is after a grey winter. The oil seed rape / canola oil fields are so stunning that a drive was needed today - how can you not be uplifted at this sight? 

Our lovely county of Shropshire is a large rural one, the heart of the Industrial Revolution that propelled the world in to the new age of mechanism ...

These canals once carried barges full of merchandise from our Industries around the country, our precious potteries were safely transported by canal when the roads were too bumpy.

They hold a special place in my heart, I love the way they wind through our countryside, unseen at times but the old highways now carry tourist narrow boats along at a leisurely 4 mile per hour pace, a gently hum the only things that disturbs the peace.

The bright weather today gave us the opportunity to get out & a canal walk was my first choice - it has been a long winter & I just knew that the trees would be greening up & it would be perfect ...

I have seen photos of this unusual canal bridge so it was lovely to see it today with the double arch & the telephone wires on the top arch - it is really tall & spans a deep crossing ...

The water was a little muddy today after our recent rains but the ducks with  their sweet young ducklings did not seem to mind ...

The bridges are all different sizes & shapes which frame the views beyond ...

 The countryside is so green now & the hedgerows are filled with pretty flowers ...

We called in for drinks at a tiny little canalside pub - the bar was just this little counter with what looked like 2 front rooms for patrons,  everyone sat in the garden enjoying the canal views & the sunshine - bliss ...

As we eventually walked back, the sun was much brighter & we had walked 7.5km along the tow paths. The reflections were perfect, it was green, peaceful & the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

On the way home, we passed a lot of poly tunnels, all laid out so beautiful,  a nod to the agrarian nature of our county where farming is still very evident. 

Thank you for stopping by & taking the time to read & comment,
Dee ~💕~