Buckland Abbey

It was one of those days where you are not quite sure whether the sun will come out or it will pour with rain all day. Whilst having breakfast we watched the rain come down, but according to my phone weather app it was supposed to clear by 11 am. We took the opportunity to pop over to the famous Pannier Market in Tavistock and have a look around the stalls whilst waiting for the sun to emerge.

The Great Barn

It was our final day in the area so we decided (well I did) to visit the lovely Garden House only a short distance away near Yelverton and since it was only an extra 5 minutes away we drove down a very narrow road (due to road closures) to visit Buckland Abbey, once home to the infamous Sir Francis Drake.

The Abbey entrance

The dissolution of the Abbey in 1539 saw a new owner, Sir Richard Grenville, purchase the Abbey and some of the estate from the Crown for his son Roger. However Roger’s ownership was brief, and it was his son, also called Richard, who made many of the alterations that are still evident today. Grenville decided instead to convert the abbey church into a house, in the process creating a cosy and intimate home. He retained the church tower and inserted three floors in the church interior.

Richard decided to sell the Abbey in 1580 to Sir Francis Drake, privateer, who made it his home after returning to England after his three-year circumnavigation of the globe on The Golden Hind.  [source: NT Website]

Decorative lead water tank

I’m not a huge fan of NT houses, some of the history is fascinating, but there is only so much ostentatious wealth I can stomach. I much prefer the exteriors of the buildings and of course, the gardens.

Every English person over a certain age will have studied those enterprising explorers during ‘The Age of Exploration’, or ‘Age of Discovery’, including Sir Francis Drake, though his life has been somewhat sanitised (being depicted still as a ‘great British hero’) as he commanded a ship as part of a fleet bringing African slaves to the “New World”, making one of the first English slaving voyages.

The Drake Coat of Arms. The stars represent the northern and southern hemispheres that Drake had sailed and the wavy line the sea. Auxillo Divino means ‘hand of God’ and Sic Parvis Magna means ‘from small beginnings to great achievements’.

Inside the former abbey the Great Hall has the original magnificent Tudor floor and an elaborate plastered Elizabethan ceiling. The upper floor has the Long Gallery which is dominated by a huge statue of Sir Francis Drake. This long, open space was used in Tudor times for the inhabitants to get some indoor exercise and we found information about life on board the ships that Drake might have sailed and the lives of the Cistercian monks. Much of the display relates to the Armada’s defeat.

Plaster model of the bronze statues of Drake that can be found in Tavistock and Plymouth Hoe. It was made in the late 19th century.

In 1988 four stained glass windows were installed in the windows of the stairwell to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

Commemorative Glass
The Drake stained-glass Sundial commemorates the four hundredth anniversary of his death in 1596. It represents a 16th century chart of the Atlantic Ocean on which the hours lines radiate from a decorative compass rose. Drake’s ship ‘The Golden Hind’ is seen sailing along the evening 8 o’clock line on course from Plymouth to Porto Bello where an encircled cross indicates the position of his burial. The heraldic shield displays Drake’s coat of arms. It was designed by Christopher Daniel.

Back on the ground floor are the Tudor kitchens, laid out with 18th century cooking utensils and foods as if preparing for the dinner party upstairs.

The Great Barn

There is an impressive great barn which was used by the monks for the storage and winnowing of corn. Now used for apple pressing.

The Elizabethan Garden

And outside are Herb Gardens and an Elizabethan garden in front of the abbey. Not the most interesting of NT gardens I have to say. I was disappointed with the planting of both the herb garden and the Elizabethan garden. Being the first of June I expected both to be quite floriferous.

Since we were heading off to visit the nearby Garden House we opted not to do any of the walks in the grounds or visit the café.

World Photography Day

World Photography Day is an annual, worldwide celebration of the art, craft, science and history of photography.  And this year it is the 19th August.

Lacock Abbey

I thought I’d share some photos of Lacock Abbey once home to William Henry Fox Talbot, polymath and pioneer of Victorian photography, who moved to Lacock Abbey in 1827 and created the earliest surviving photographic negative in 1835, taken of a small window in the Abbey’s South Gallery. Not much bigger than a stamp!

When we visited in late May only part of the building was open, including the north cloisters. I do like a cloister though this one is quite small and the light was challenging.

Thursday’s Special: Traces of the Past

This large medieval tithe barn is situated at Ashleworth in Gloucestershire. The barn was built about between 1481 and 1515 by the canons of St Augustine’s, Bristol and used to store foodstuffs given to the church. At that time the manor  of Ashleworth was in possession of Bristol Abbey. Currently undergoing restoration by the National Trust.

Directly behind the barn is the parish church, St Andrews, with Saxon stonework and one of the earliest known examples of a royal coat of arms. Together with Ashleworth Court (privately owned) these buildings have existed together in a very attractive location close to the River Severn.

Thursday’s Special |Traces of the Past.

(All photos taken on an extremely cold , -5ºC , Christmas Day in 2010)

Lavenham Guildhall

The Guildhall of Corpus Christi (NT) Market Place

Set in the picturesque Market Place is the Guildhall of Corpus Christi, built in 1529 by a wealthy religious guild, this building is one of the loveliest timber-framed buildings in the country. Inside you can learn all about the people, industries and events that have shaped this village throughout time.

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The exhibitions have been cleverly created using the eyes and voices of those who worked, lived and were imprisoned here. Their stories will surprise and shock you. Continue reading Lavenham Guildhall

Windows at Wightwick

It has been a while since I found some interesting windows to post, but at last here are some from the marvellous Wightwick Manor in Staffordshire (near Wolverhampton) which is designed in the Arts and Crafts style.

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Just look at those carved faces on the header photo and all the detail in the window frames. You have to admit it is much more beautiful than uPVC windows. Continue reading Windows at Wightwick