Category Archives: Architecture

There Is No Such Thing As A Free Cup Of Tea. 2nd September

Beale Park

Sausages!

The ‘Next Time’ list got a little bit shorter today. After a leisurely cuppa in bed followed by a sausage sarnie ( those sausages were nice), we walked upstream to find the nearest church, St Bartholomews.

St Bartholomews

Built in flint with stone dressing in the late 13th Century it is Grade 1 listed and owned by the Churches Conservation Trust. It is a simple building with a brick bell tower that was added later. Surrounding the alter are tiled walls. The church is open daily but the next service isn’t until mid October. We weren’t really here to see the church but to visit the resting place of Jethro Tull.

Looking up the aisle
Jethro’s headstone

Jethro Tull was born in Lower Basildon in 1674. His life work was key to major developments in the agricultural revolution which took place in the early 18th Century. He invented the first mechanised seed drill which was horse drawn. Rows of seed could now be cultivated reducing waste and enabling an amount of weed reduction. His innovations didn’t make him a wealthy man and nobody knows exactly where he is buried in the church yard. A modern stone donated in the 1960’s marks that the church yard is his resting place.

From here we walked up the hill, over the railway and along the busy road to the gate houses of Basilson Park, a National Trust property sitting high above the valley now surrounded by trees. We showed our membership cards and got a note to use in the tea rooms for a free cuppa, these are given out if you arrive by public transport, bike or on foot. The walk up to the house is through a thick yew wood which a week ago would have been a wonderful place away from the searing heat. Today kids climbed through the branches pretending they were caught in a maze of lazers.

Basildon Park

On the drive we got our first view of the house. A Palladian Mansion, possibly one of the finest in the country. You are directed up one of two curved staircases to the guests entrance. Here a guide introduced us to the house with a quick bit of history. The estate was acquired in 1771 by Francis Sykes who had made his fortune with the East India Company. He commissioned the architect John Carr of York (the founder of my Fathers architectural practice) to build him a splendid mansion with neo-classical interiors.

Two grand staircases to enter by

The Sykes owned the house until 1838 when it passed onto the Morrison family. During WW1 it was used as a convalescence home for officers and in WW2 it was requisitioned first by the Americans for D-Day training and then by the British and used as a prisoner of war camp for the Germans and Italians. The house didn’t fair well during this time. During the 1930’s it’s owner had wanted to sell the house to America, hoping to make a fortune. Doors, fireplaces, mouldings were removed and taken to the States as examples of the craftsmanship to try to entice buyers but the depression put paid to that and the house remained firmly on the hill above Lower Basildon.

The library

In 1952 Lord and Lady Iliffe bought the house and set about restoring it to its former glory. Other John Carr properties were visited at one in Lincolnshire they were able to buy doors, frames, fireplaces etc from the house as it was about to be demolished. Here the detail with which John Carr gave to his buildings meant that fireplaces just slotted in at Basildon and doors didn’t even need new screw holes drilling for the hinges as everything fitted perfectly.

Reused curtains decorate the walls

Not many of the rooms are as they would have been back in the 18th Century. In the green drawing room the original ceiling is still there, untouched other than by some water damage from a leaking washing machine above and a fire detector. The walls however have been covered with green damask curtains which were found by Lady Iliffe in a ballroom. You can make out where the fabric used to hang in pleats due to the fading of the cloth.

The dining room, the frocks upstaging the room a touch

As you enter the dining room columns of faux marble cut off the servants end of the room, large paintings and details on the ceiling look down on a very long dining room table with a fantastic broderie anglaise table cloth. The paintings from the ceiling were one of the elements that ended up in America, the ones there today were painted only a few years ago. They are good but nowhere near as good as they would have been in the original house.

The Octagonal Room with red baize walls

Around the first floor is a collection of dresses from the 1950’s. Two in the entrance hall were made and worn by Lady Iliffe, the others are on loan from the Fashion and Textile Museum. the displays are not as intrusive as we’ve come across at other NT properties, but because of the dresses the curtains in each room are closed and spot lights highlight the clothes. This does mean the lighting is very dramatic, no chance to see outside to the views from each room and details in the rooms are hidden in dim corners. Quite a shame in the Octagonal Room.

Decorative panel on the wall made from shells
My favourites, Argonaut shells

Up the stairs to first the Shell Room. Lady Charlotte collected shells, vast quantities of shells. She wasn’t interested in them for scientific reasons, she just loved their shapes. Whilst on holidays she would leave her husband to socialise so that she could be down on the beach collecting shells. Her collection not only sits in display cabinets but also adorns them too.

The panelled door has been rehinged
part way through it’s panels

The Iliffe’s added modern conveniences to the house, heating and plumbing. One bathroom has a wonderfully deep bath which necessitated the door to the room to be altered.

Quite a bed

The Crimson Bedroom has 1950’s wallpaper, but central to the room is a very ornate red Georgian bed that Lady Iliffe bought for £100. This was one of their guest bedrooms with a huge vast wardrobe which may at one time have been used by Disraeli.

Quite odd in such a house

At the top of the family staircase we could smell cooking wafting up from below, so we followed our noses. First into the houses kitchen, decked out with worn 1950’s units. A drawer full of familiar kitchen utensils sat out on the long kitchen table opposite a fake Aga. The aromas hadn’t been coming from here. Down more steps and we reached the ground floor and the tea room.

The guest staircase

Time for our free cuppas and something to eat. Mick chose a sandwich and a roast veg frittata took my fancy. We handed over our hand written chit for tea and the young lady then asked us for £12! ‘Er don’t we get free tea?’ ‘Oh Yes, £8’.

An original study for the tapestry in Coventry Cathedral

Quite a few of the tables were occupied, but we found one and put the tray on the table along with our number for food. A waitress said ‘Is that number 13?’ Yes it was. She lifted the number from the tray onto the table to one side, I thought that was a touch too helpful. She then proceeded to pick up our tray. She was clearing it all away before we’d even sat down! ‘Excuse me we’d like to drink our tea and eat our food!’ Oh, right! She did apologise briefly when she came through with my frittatta, which was very tasty.

Free tea!

A look around the gardens, plenty of fushia out and wilting roses. The front lawn looks out across the valley. We tried to work out just where Oleanna might be behind all the trees. Then we made our way back down the hill and across the railway. A permisive track took our fancy so we climbed the style and followed mowed pathways through wooded areas. We guessed we were heading in the right direction, cut across a road and then into more fields.

From the front lawn

Oleanna should be just about there, but the path took us this way then back on our selves. Eventually we popped out on the river bank a few hundred feet away from our bow.

It had been a good day and well worth stopping to look round the house, ticking off another John Carr building, but they certainly didn’t want us to have that free cuppa!

More outside time!

0 locks, 0 miles by boat, 5 miles walked, 1 gravestone, 1 Jethro, 1 Carr house, 3 staircases, 18 frocks, 26 preparatory paintings for a tapestry, 2 Japanese lamps, 1 red bed, 5m table cloth, 732579 shells, 2 cups of tea, 1 ham sandwich, 1 frittatta clung onto for dear life, 2 repeats in wallpaper, 1 crumbling balustrade, 3 hours for Tilly, 1 woofers ball.

Door To The Imagination. 24th August

Radcot Meadow to Kelmscott Manor

Webs

The spiders overnight work was being shown off by the morning dew, a very pretty sight to open the curtains to.

Radcot Bridge

Not far today, but we were still up and away early to hopefully find a mooring. Passing all the glamping teepees and tents by Radcote Bridge (the oldest on the Thames) we wondered how many slices of pig were being fried up for breakfast.

Rowing

A rowing boat was heading towards us, nothing surprising there. This turned out to be a novice team rowing from Lechlade to Teddington raising funds for the NSPCC. Their back up team running the towpath warned that they weren’t so good at steering, well they’ll have a problem when they come to the next twists and turns!

Wonderful view

After a mile and a half we reached Grafton Lock, although on self service there was a Lockie doing his checks, he opened up the bottom gates and worked us up. Another boat appeared from above which he worked down too, how long would it be before he could head off to the next lock?

The cratch will remain rolled up tonight
That rope will help us to get up the bank

Today the Twists and turns have been replaced by pill boxes, they felt as though they were every few hundred yards as we made our way to where we wanted to moor, The easy moorings were full, round the bend was full also. Signs on posts stood high above the friendly cover so it looked like there might be more places to moor round the next bend. We pulled into the cover, no chance of me getting off at the bow, but Mick managed with a scramble.

Pinned in at the front and tied round the post at the stern we had a handy rope to help clamber up the bank. Why here? Why not go on further? Well just through the trees we could see the reason Kelmscott Manor, William Morris’s holiday home.

Kelmscott Manor

In 1871 William Morris and fellow artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti took out a years lease on the house, it was to provide them with a country retreat away from London and the pressures of work. Originally built around 1570 the Elizabethan house had captured Morris’s imagination. The lease was continued, Rossetti moving out in 1874 being replaced by Frederick Startridge Ellis, Morris’s publisher.

By the Brewhouse door

The house and surrounding area gave inspiration to Morris for 25 years, influencing his poetry, textiles, wallpaper designs. The traditional architecture of the area reinforced his convictions about the integrity of craft-based work and design and the importance of conserving ancient buildings for future generations.

From the croquet lawn

Morris managed to secure a 20 year lease of the house and later after his death in 1896, Jane his wife continued to be a tenant moving from London to live in the house full time. In 1913 she managed to buy the freehold of the manor along with 9 1/2 acres of land. In 1914 May, their daughter, inherited the house and in 1938 when she died she left the house to Oxford University. By the 1960’s The Society of Antiquaries of London was looking after the house and serious works were needed to save it from major problems with the stone slating and wall masonry, damp and timber decay. Much work was carried out and by 1967 the house was ready for it’s new lease of life and to have visitors.

The Green room which currently isn’t green

Entrance to the house is by timed entry ticket, this gave us enough time to look at some of the grounds and the posh William Morris tat in the shop. A one way route round the house was in operation and volunteers guided you through the house and were on hand to answer questions.

Table and chairs

Many items have remained with the house from Morris’s time and before. These items living up to Morris’s maxim, Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. That reminds me we need to reapply this to Oleanna.

Burne-Jones zodiac drawing
Rossetti portrait of Jane

Morris fabric hangs from many walls, and wonderful embroideries by his wife and daughter accompany drawings by Burne-Jones, Rossetti, and furniture from other Arts and Crafts designers. Albercht Durer and Breughel works hang on walls all important influences on Morris.

Sussex
Chairs

Various styles of Sussex chairs with their dark wood, rattan or rush seats sit comfortably all around the house.

Light
Window latch

Tapestries. light fittings with reflectors.

Reflecting upstairs

A circular mirror hangs on the staircase wall echoing the Portrait of John Arnolfini and his Wife by Jan Van Eyck.

Windows
framing views

Windows framing views of the garden literally held in place by the window catches.

Intricate embroidery

A recent acquisition is the wonderful ‘The Homestead and the Forest’ cot quilt. A circular Thames encircles Kelmscott Manor and outside are animals from across the world.

Meow
Grrr

Lions, cats, flamingos, crocodiles.

Loft steps

A loft staircase, takes you up to the attic rooms. Here is what captured Morris’s heart and ours.

Look at those beams

The rooms below are very nice with great views, but you really can’t beat the slopping roof and exposed beams of an attic room.

You just have to mind your head

This house doesn’t just have one room up here, it has several. I’d quite happily live up on the top floor of the house. What wonderful rooms.

A door painted by the Scott-Snells

A steep spiral staircase brings you down the house, pausing at first floor level there was a display of paintings by Edward and Stephani Scott-Snell who leased the house for a few years after May died. Then back down to the ground floor.

Built to accommodate three

The gardens are worth a view too, a brewhouse, three seated privy, a mulberry tree and Medlar tree sit around the house.

The Mulberry tree

We could have headed back to the boat for lunch but decided on sampling the cafe. My usual safe jacket potato was followed by a very nice slice of gluten free carrot cake, Micks coffee and walnut cake also got the thumbs up, all at reasonable prices.

William in contemplation

A look around the village was next. More lovely houses with their tile stone roofs. Past the pub to St George’s Church. A simple small village church where William Morris, his wife and two daughters are buried. Interesting that William gets a loop on his M’s on the stone, but the others don’t.

M with a loop

Inside the church is simple, but hidden behind the small organ in the north transept are medieval wall paintings dating from before 1280 depicting Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel.

Medieval paintings

Normally when we visit churches of this size we are the only visitors, possibly for days, but today we had plenty of company. Shame we were the only ones to pop some coins through the whole in the wall to help with the upkeep.

St George’s

The manor was well worth a visit. This year it has been open from April to the end of August on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Only two more days to visit this year. Then the whole operation will close down for major works to take place enabling them to accommodate more visitors and do much needed remedial works on the house. If all is going well they will open for limited time next year, but the house will reopen to visitors in 2021 the 150th anniversary of when William Morris first moved to the house.

Which way?

After avoiding the hot outside all day, then avoiding the woofers and people, then avoiding the wobbly lads on day boats I headed out to see what I could see. I’d been warned that the friendly cover shouldn’t be pounced in as this outside might be missing some floor in places. So I headed across the field to a large wood pile. This was very interesting to climb and poke my arms in. A few friends kept me amused for a while but it was all over too quickly when She came calling for me.

Morris’s bed

1 lock, 3.04 miles, 0 bacon for us, 1 clambering mooring, 12:10 entry, 1 Elizabethan house, 3 floors, 2 peacocks, 1 wonderful attic, 2 slices cake, 2 cups of tea, 3 seated loo, 200 lbs of Mulberries, 1 little church, 4 in one, 3 hours, 1 big log pile, 1 cooling breeze, 1 cardigan back to where it should be.

A Good Drying Day. 17th August

Abingdon Lock

Park run

Feet starting stomping past Oleanna as we were sitting down for breakfast, the local park run. People just kept coming and coming delaying Tillys shore leave, she wasn’t happy!

Mick popped back to the lock to chat to the Lock Keeper. With the recent rain fall we’d been wondering how the river would react, further north rivers have been in flood and we were wanting to leave the boat for a couple of days. He was fairly certain that nothing much would happen to the levels, but allowed us to stay moored above the lock where Oleanna was on posts rather than spikes. For £10 he gave us a mooring permit to cover us.

A perfect drying day

Being close to a water point and the sun having come back out the washing machine was put to use. The first load hung out on the whirligig and with the breeze it was dry by the end of the day. Another load filled the airer which was put in the cratch.

Boats queuing up for the lock

By mid morning the river was very busy. Boats were queuing to use the water point, others for the lock. At one point boats were backing into the offside vegetation and moving away with extra greenery. We were quite glad we’d turned up on a damp Friday lunchtime.

Contemplative Tilly

Mick headed off to be picked up by Enterprise to collect a hire car, so with him and Tilly out of the way I got on with some model making for Houdini. Yesterday I’d sent off my sketches to the director, but thought I’d be alright getting on with some pieces that were certainties before I heard back. About an hour after my scalpel had started to cut up bits of card I got an email through from Josh giving me the thumbs up, I can now crack on with the white card model.

First bits of model

By mid afternoon I’d reached a point where either I carried on for another five hours or stopped for the day. We needed a bit of shopping so we headed to Waitrose. The Lockie had said that we could leave the car near the lock for the night, but we decided to park it on the other side of the weir eliminating any possibility of it being locked in, we were needing to make an early start in the morning to head north.

The local crocodile

This evening I’ve pulled out four rows of knitting, hoping I’ve all the stitches I need to re-knit what I’d got wrong. A quick count up of stitches before I start will be needed to see if I’ve picked every stitch back up. Fingers crossed.


Property Game

There’s a bit more to this one than first meets the eye. How much?

0 locks, 0 miles, 137 pairs of running legs, £10 mooring, 2 loads washing, 4 boats treading water and collecting greenery, Fiat 500, 4 hours work, 1 cabinet, 7 hours shore leave, 4 rows gone, 307 stitches remaining, I hope!

Yesterdays Answer

£1,595,000

https://www.struttandparker.com/properties/shillingford-court

Joa I think you need to leave Open Reach and start valuing properties. £5 k off today.

This one is wonderful. The Drawing/Dining Room are great with the huge wide fireplace which has windows either side. Then there is the reception hall, the staircase and galleried landing, well … … wow! Personally I’d also want the boat house too.

All the original features come with history. Built in 1898 for Frederick William Mortimer who was tailor to the Prince of Wales. It is said that the Prince visited the house on several times with his mistress Lillie Langtry. The house was split into it’s current form quite early on, this portion being the largest. The Prince of Wales must have had a lot of suits.

Cloaking Device Engaged. 13th August

Sonning Lock to Beale Park

We’ll go down there in a few weeks

Awake long before the alarm was due to go off, we were up and on the move before 9am. A mile and a half ahead was Reading, the junction with the Kennet and Avon Canal and the Tescos mooring. We wanted to stop for some shopping so prepared to pull in.

The moorings outside Tesco were free to stop at three years ago, but since then we’ve heard all sorts. Limited mooring times, having to pay even for four hours and any part there of, the enforcement company no longer operating, who knows. We decided to checked our map. That’s funny, my phone said Tescos was a pay mooring, but the new tablet said it was free? Somehow we must have two versions of Waterway Routes on the go.

At first we decided to pull in just before the K&A junction, but there was a suitable sized gap up ahead outside Tescos, so we moved up to check it out.

The Ark

Opposite the junction is this wooden boat that is gradually being reclaimed by nature. Some would think it an eyesore, but I found it fascinating. Next to it under cover was what looked like an artists studio with a couple of paintings on easels.

A bit of rope was needed to be able to tie up the bow to a missing ring. There were no obvious signs by the mooring about charges, so we chanced it. We didn’t want to be long so headed off, pausing at the archway from the towpath to read a sign high up with SO much writing on it. This suggested that we should pay £4 for 4 hours mooring, but was this the company no longer looking after the moorings? We didn’t want to be long anyway so decided to chance the £100 fine!

No first class stamps anywhere in Tescos, poor Josh will have to wait for his birthday cards. We swept through the store at breakneck speed picking up enough supplies to see us to the weekend. As we got back to Oleanna another boat was seeing if they would fit into one of the git gaps behind us. No chance. ‘Give us five minutes and you can have this spot’. They circled a couple of times whilst they waited for us to push off.

The staircases look like they should be full of coloured liquid with bubbles rising and falling

Onwards to Caversham Lock, all the time having the feeling we were being followed. The lady volunteer at the lock asked how long we were and asked us to use the end bollard in the lock, the one nearest the top gates, a cruiser was following in behind us. We pulled up all the way and did our ropes. The gates had recesses in them which may or may not trap our bow fender. As locks fill Oleanna tends to be first swept backwards and then forwards, I put an extra turn around the bollard just in case.

A Humber Keel a long way from home

The lock started to fill. The lady checked I was alright, I was just so long as my fender was okay. With the extra turn on the bollard I couldn’t pull the rope in, but it also couldn’t slip to a longer length. Slowly we rose. Mick managed to pull us back from the top gates a touch and I was able to tighten the rope to keep us at a safer distance from the gate. The lady then opened up the paddles more. I thanked her for taking her time and checking we were okay. Quite often the Lockies press the button at one end of the lock to set things in motion, walk to the other end, press the button there to lift the sluices more and then walk off to do something completely different until the chamber is almost full.

Good name

Normally as we cruise we have an old tablet running, our trip computer which maps where we are. The battery on this is past it’s best so it will only run for a short while without being plugged in. This morning I had unknowingly set the timer on our cloaking device. We pootled along, making note that the diesel in Reading was currently cheaper below the lock than above. We overtook a rib with a great name and were overtaken by a trip boat and cruiser. All the time that feeling of being followed with us.

Our cloaking device had engaged when we were at Tescos, so that was where we were, except it wasn’t. From some three quarters of an hour behind us we got a message asking where we were. Now we actually knew where they were, three quarters of an hour behind, following us! The trip computer had the power turned back on, was rebooted, but didn’t have enough power to sort itself out, this had to wait for another lock.

Mapledurham Lock

After Mapledurham Lock I could see a field of Alpacas. Quite a few, then another field and another and another. We were alongside the biggest Alpaca farm in the country. Wish I could have clipped a bit off each colour as we went past.

We’re getting closer to Oxford

We’d hoped to be able to moor here just before Pangbourne. The two boats in front of us found spaces, a wide beam that had been at Tescos had a space. Then sat right in the middle of a space made for two narrowboats was a boat that had come past us whilst we were shopping. Tied to a bollard at one end and a spike the other with two bollards at either end! Of course when they pulled in there may have been a cruiser moored at one end, but it certainly didn’t feel that way!

A nice stretch of river
The perfect spot for him and us

So we carried on, up Whitchurch Lock and started to look for a mooring, we were hungry by now. One space appeared, but Mick couldn’t get off the back. We continued, spaces showing themselves, except each one had a fisherman slap bang in the middle! After four such gaps we spotted an empty one, but would it be long enough for us? At around 59ft it was perfect.

Here they come

Lunchtime and our tracking devise could be turned off, however we kept an eye on the boat following us getting closer and closer all the time. Just about three quarters of an hour after we’d moored up we could see a narrowboat heading upstream, side fenders being put down ready to breast up.

This must be a pesky outside to need two boats
They don’t have very big windows

She called me back from what I was doing. This outside must be quite troublesome as another boat was needed to tie it up. I watched from the roof as this other boat caught us. It was all quite puzzling.

Paul and Christine on NB Waterway Routes are on the Thames checking map data at the moment. They have just finished filming on the Lee and Stort for a new DVD and had left Limehouse on Sunday and have gradually been gaining on us.

Christine and Paul on NB Waterway Routes

A stop for a cuppa and a catch up had been arranged and it was good that we’d reached a mooring so Tilly wouldn’t be sat inside longing to be out. Those trees at the Tesco outside had looked very good! She did show her face at the hatch to say hello to Paul, He looks after my Mrs Tilly stamps of approval. She Paul seemed nice too, I’ve not met her before. I was polite and took time out of being busy to say hello, then carried on with the important task of pouncing.

With Paul being on board we got an update to our cruising maps. Waterway Routes are updated every month with any changes that have happened on the network, we’d fallen a bit behind with our version, last updated in October! So it was high time we got up to date again.

A lovely catch

Still with more map checking to do today before they could moor up they pushed off to make the most of the dry weather.

This afternoon Mick has updated all our phones and laptops to ensure we are all up to date with the maps and on the same version. I’ve been looking at Panto props lists and adding extra ideas that have come from John the Director one based on a Peter Gabriel video. Tilly, well she’s just been far too busy finding friends and murdering them.


Property Game

2 bedroom boat house with mooring. How much?

3 locks, 1 not planned, 10.12 miles, 1 straight on, 0 boxes wine, 0 1st class stamps, 13th birthday about to go by, £4 or not, 1 cloaking device engaged, 1 Humber Keel, I sunset, 1 boat hot on our stern, 2 many fishermen, 1 updated map, 3 foam ducks, 1 extending cord, 1 vat of smash, 7 deadly sins, 2 tasty friends, 2 sleeves.

Yesterdays Answer

Only £650,000 but…. it is only an apartment with two bedrooms though. So only a quarter of what you can see, hence the price.

So Joa the whole property might work out to being £2,600,000, so a touch nearer your price range! 😉

A Jumper Day. 12th August

Henley to above Sonning Lock

Henley

The first rower went past before 7am today, no need for an alarm clock. At least it must have been a scull as all we heard was the slide going back and forth and the oars sweeping through the water and not the instructions that are normally shouted out in pairs, fours or eights, some of these rowers do like the sound of their own voices.

Just after breakfast it started to rain, not inviting but our hope that it would clear up was granted and we set off in the dry. Today is the first day we’ve worn an extra layer for what feels like months, the temperature having dropped to a little below 20 C.

I’d like to sit on that balcony

Some of the boat houses in Henley have accommodation above them and some are as pretty as the wooden boats that are moored up outside.

Slowly reaching the lock

We’d just missed going up with two other narrowboats at Marsh Lock so waited our turn to rise to the next reach of river.

Twisty chimneys

Numerous islands give you the choice of which way to go, so we decided to have a nosy at some of the houses. The bigger ones sit back with large lawns, these houses have views across the river. The smaller ones, more modern, face wooded islands which stop their views short.

Test driving the new waterproofs

It started to rain so waterproofs were donned as we wound round the big bend past Wargrave to Shiplake Lock. Back in 2016 as we arrived at this lock there was a queue, a big one that wasn’t moving, all it did was grown. Boats held back but in the end had to pull in down towards the weir as a hydraulic pipe had burst on one of the gates. After two hours wait the queue started to move again. Today we’d just missed the two narrowboats ahead again so waited our turn.

No big queue today

We pulled in at the services to empty the yellow water, top up the water which took all of five minutes. Between here and the lock were large tents the sort you see on American films, both ends open and a large fly sheet spanning right across the top. Each tent had wooden beds in them and then what looked like a garden shed. The island was purchased in 1891 by the City of London Corporation for camping and bathing. In 1914 the island was let to the Thames Conservancy and divided into 18 plots, the wooden huts were built by the tents for cooking. At the time no women were allowed to sleep on the island, it was men only. Sadly today it was raining too much to have my camera out as we went past.

One legged goose

The rain now stayed with us all the way to Sonning Lock where we rose up (a little too quickly for my liking) and then found a suitable place to moor. Tilly wouldn’t like it here in the slightest!

Now this more than made up for the lack of trees yesterday. 6 hours! I’d only just started to survey today’s outside when another stupid woofer came to spoil my concentration. This one even ran up to me! Woofing and woofing. I stood my ground, arched my back and my tail nearly took off, that stopped it in it’s tracks! Stupid rude woofer. Once it had shut up I could get back to what I’d only just started.

A wooden chair

After a couple of hours I had to be reminded that I was meant to show my face every now and then, so from then on I bobbed back to say hello every now and then. One time She wasn’t too pleased to see me and my friend, even though She thought it might be a mushroom I had in my mouth. The hatch was closed in my face, so I just had to turn back round towards the trees with it. If She didn’t want to me to share it with her then that was her loss.


Property Game

Now this one is in Marlow. How much?

3 locks, 7.34 miles, 2 jumpers, 2 waterproof coats, 0 blue t-shirt, 3 lock keepers, 1 a bit heavy on the buttons, 10 year old hollyhocks, 6 hours, 1 mushroom, 2 work emails, 1 useful buoy.

Yesterdays Answer

£3,500,000 A Tudor Style Country residence with 50ft of water frontage. It has a garden room, indoor swimming pool and a snooker room with a baize coloured carpet!

Joa, I think the slipway along with the baize carpet added another million.

More Kings And Queens. 5th August

Hampton Court Palace

Fountain Court

The Palace isn’t just Tudor, it was a Palace for other Kings and Queens too. When William III took the throne in 1689 he asked Christopher Wren to design a new Baroque palace . Originally the Tudor Palace was to be demolished, but the cost was to be too much for the Royal purse. Instead a third of the palace was replaced.

Pistols and daggers, who needs wallpaper

A grand staircase with small steps and huge painting takes you up to William’s state apartments. This was and still is an impressive way to enter. As with Henry VIII, visitors were vetted before being let through to the following rooms. The guard chamber is almost encrusted with weaponry showing Williams hunger for war. These were not just for show, but could be used by the army should the need arise.

Possibly the first chandelier of it’s kind in the country

Next follows a succession of chambers each with a throne and canopy. The further on you got the less fancy the canopy, but the chair beneath got comfier. Large paintings cover the walls and other than the throne there is little furniture in the rooms, instead they would have been filled with beautifully dressed courtiers. By the time you reach the Privy Chamber the chair is fluffed up and plump the canopy has disappeared, a wonderful crystal chandelier hangs in the centre of the room which lines up wonderfully with the Privy Garden outside.

Ginormous bed just for show
A very busy ceiling that would keep anyone awake

A huge bed sits in the Great Bedchamber, this is where the King was dressed in view public, an incredible painted ceiling above faces the on looker not the king. This was all for show, which the King would rather have lived without.

Padded toilet on a chest. Maybe a precursor to a Kilwick

Below the grand rooms are the more private apartments where the King really lived his life. Here his collections of favourite paintings hang on ropes, many of them night time scenes now hard to distinguish their content. The Orangery houses the orange and bay trees during the winter months, gives a great view down the Privy Garden.

The private dining room

These are less flamboyant rooms, cosy and homely. In his private dining room he surrounded himself with full length portraits of the Hampton Court Beauties. The serving area could be closed off after the meal leaving the king and his guests in peace.

Queen Anne followed doing a touch of remodelling herself. The Royal Chapel which had stained glass and a fantastic blue and gold ceiling from Henry VIII’s time was altered. The window frames left in place, but the glass depicting Henry, Katherine and Wolsey are long since gone. Much of the lower walls are now wood, vertical parquet covers the wall behind the alter and huge wooden columns attempt to hold up the Tudor ceiling. Sadly you’re not allowed to take photos here, the ceiling is great.

The Queens staircase

Then came the Georgians. George I built a set of rooms for his son in which he and his wife entertained lavishly. A new kitchen was also built which you can now stay in as it is one of the Landmark Trust properties, The Georgian House.

What a ceiling

When George II succeeded his father in 1727 the palace entered it’s last phase as a royal residence. The Queens staircase had a make over by the architect William Kent with Roman niches and trompe l’oeil panels below another great painted ceiling.

Two jolly chaps

The Queens Guard Chamber has quite a fireplace. Two men, possibly Yeomen of the Guard have the huge mantle piece resting on their hats. Here as else where in the Palace visitors would be vetted before being let further into the rooms.

Napkin artistry

The Public Dining Room is decorated with more impressive painting and a large table shows off a display of napkin artistry.

Wonderful costumes

Stood in the room are white costumes made from fibrous paper, these represent members of the court and have a small resume on their bodices or cuffs.

The period detail sewn into them is wonderful. There is a more sociable feel to these rooms than those of earlier periods. Courtiers would play games, gambling, loosing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

A bit more painting, anyone would think this was a palace!

By 1737 George II no longer wanted to use Hampton Court as a royal palace so it was filled with grace and favour residents. The accommodation not the best, some residents didn’t have access to hot water. Many residents were widows who’s husbands had worked for the monarch. This continued until the 1960’s and there are still a couple of elderly residents still living in the Palace.

A modern addition

In 1838 Queen Victoria decided to let the public see inside the palace and opened up its doors, this proved to be very popular.

Looking back to the house from the Privy Garden

The Privy Garden needed a closer look, especially as there was a nice boat moored just outside the Tijou Screen (a shame they still haven’t finished painting it!). After a fire damaged the palace in 1986 the decision was taken to restore the privy garden back to how it had been in William III’s time. The trees were kept clipped at 7 to 8 ft high and a view of the Thames was possible. This in later years had been left to grow and had got quite out of hand, no longer could the palace be seen from the river.

Mum feeding her not so small chick

During August there is plenty happening. The King Henry VIII’s sporting academy is taking place throughout the gardens. Real Tennis is played on the indoor court, there is fencing and sword fighting, wrestling, crossbow and falconry displays.

Royal Medication of the chilled variety

After quite a busy day we deserved some chilled medication and a good job we got it when we did as the stand closed soon afterwards. Mick had Chocolate Brownie and I had a very good Raspberry Sorbet, no gluten free cones today though!

From the rose garden

Other areas of the grounds are open to the public. The Rose and Kitchen garden were worth a wander around, plenty growing in the vegetable beds, they even had some Royal Blackberries!

Royal Harry
and his mate Dwain

Even though we’d been a touch reluctant to buy two full price tickets to the palace we were amazed at what we got for our money. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, so much to see and do. We didn’t quite manage to see everything so we may come back another time to look at the galleries and go round the maze, however, we’ll try to time that with a two for one offer.


Property Game

This one was built by it’s current owners and has three bedrooms and two bathrooms.


Yesterdays Answer

https://www.tudorandco.co.uk/properties/12395356/sales

£1,295,000 no chain and it’s detached!

Sorry Ade, at least you were only a million out this time!

The One Who Survived, She’s Dead Now. 5th August

Hampton Court Palace Gates

Last night we spent some time deciding on what to do. We’d planned on using a two for one days out to go to the Palace today, making it far more acceptable to our pockets. But this is not available during the school holidays! We’d have to pay full price, even Mick wouldn’t get Old Git’s Rate.

One of the kitchens

In the end reason saw through our Yorkshire pockets and we purchased tickets on line, which saved us something. Paying more than £20 each we had to make the most of the day so planned on being at the gates as they opened for the day. This of course didn’t quite happen as we kept forgetting things like a coat should it rain again and a water bottle.

Discussing budgets

Our mooring and advance tickets meant we could gain entrance through a side gate and head straight to the main doors where our tickets were scanned and we were pointed in the right direction for an audio guide. These are well worth getting, plenty of interesting information as you walk round. With maps and guide where should we start? Henry VIII ‘s kitchens.

For the staff
For his royal nibs

The courtyards have atmospheric noises, reminiscent of those at Bletchely Park and footage of Tudor gents plays over bench backs, discussing purchases for the kitchens. The kitchens here didn’t only cater for Henry, his court and guests, but on a daily basis there were 400 people to cater for. Henry not only wanted the best of English, roast beef was always on the menu, but also spices from far afield. The staff would have one meal and the Royals would have another of two courses, but this had many different plates.

Chopping
Boards

The kitchens are huge with high ceilings, at least six fires were used for cooking. Chopping boards line one bench, if you put your hands on the board hands and knives are projected chopping and grinding ingredients.

Roasting by the fire

One fire was lit today with a chap wearing heavy woolen clothing turning a spit. Here two large joints, by modern standards, of beef were roasting. The kitchen each year would use 1.3 million logs to cook the palaces food. The logs piled up were each bigger than our stove on Oleanna.

Wine cellar

Rooms of pewter and linen headed off to the sides of the serving corridor and then a vaulted wine cellar big enough to house several families. The Tudors liked their wine and beer, but they still drank water, it’s not mentioned as much in records, because once the lead pipes were in the water was free. The water for the Palace came from a spring three miles away.

We refrained from buying anything from the Kitchen shop and headed on to Henry VIII’s Apartments.

The Great Hall

Walking into the Great Hall you could hear everyone’s gasps of awe at the sight. Such a wonderful ceiling, which now is tame in colour to what it would have been. Large stained glass windows, wooden carved deer heads and tapestries measuring 5m by 8m, my photos don’t do it justice.

Henry in the window

Tables are laid up with cloths for you to sit at, it was good manners to undo ones’ belt as you sat down rather than when it became necessary during a meal. Here banquets would be held with all the trimmings for such a fine room, but on normal days this was actually the staff canteen and Henry was more likely to eat in his private rooms.

Gilt ceiling

The great Watching Chamber follows with it’s wonderful gilt ceiling. Here Yeomen of the Guard would stand watch controlling access to the state rooms, only high ranking visitors were permitted beyond this room. Through the next few rooms the visitors were filtered, only those of very high rank would make it to the final room and meet the King.

Henry VIII

Cardinal Wolsey first acquired Hampton Court in 1514 and transformed it from a manor house into a Palace for Henry. He collected tapestries and treasures for the palace, but lost them all to the King when in 1529 he fell from power. The King loved to show off and Hampton Court was just the place to do that.

Not bad for a clock tower

The Young Henry VIII’s story is just that, the story of his earlier years as King. Rooms are laid out with large backed oak chairs telling his story. He was the first king in 100 years to inherit the throne peacefully from his father. Once king he soon married Katherine of Aragon, she had been briefly married to his brother before he died. Katherine produced children, three boys all of whom died soon after birth or were still born, only Princess Mary survived past the age of seven weeks. Was the Kings marriage a cursed one, him having married his brothers wife?

Anne Boleyn came on the scene, the King fell in love and secretly married her in 1532, still married to Katherine whom he managed to divorce a year later. This is where the saying Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived started from. As a child I never learnt this, but Mick did. However he did today add that the one who survived Henry, she’s now dead!

Still having our tickets meant that we didn’t have to folk out £20 plus for lunch and could return home instead. We handed back our audio tour and had a comfortable sit down back at Oleanna.


Property Game

5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms with river moorings.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 cheap internet tickets, 2 4 1 not available in school holidays, 2 days mooring booked, 2 audio tours, 400 mouths to feed, 6 fires, 1.3 million logs, 6 wives, too many wonderful chimneys to count.

Yesterdays Answer

https://www.watersideresidential.co.uk/property-for-sale/?id=10245&type=2

£799,950 for 3 bedrooms with pedestrian access, but with two moorings.

Sorry Ade you were miles out with £2.7 million.