Saturday, August 10, 2013

Montacute House

As you all know, I am a HUGE 'Downton Abbey' fan. So much so, that last month I convinced my husband, sister and brother-law to pay a lot of money to join me on a tour of Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed.

I hate to say it, but it was a disappointment. Expensive tickets, no photos allowed inside, limited access to the rooms, and we couldn't tour downstairs. Not only that, but the grounds were boring.

Move over Highclere! Montacute House is my new love! We went on our first date a few days ago.

Montacute House is 400 years old, has centuries of interesting history, the grounds and gardens are beautiful, the docents love to chat with visitors, photos are allowed inside, and you can walk anywhere in the rooms getting as close to paintings and furniture as you like.

One room that was interesting was the 'Long Room'. It was an exercise gallery and was 272 feet long! "The longest in England," a docent told me proudly. Word on the street says the house's inhabitants used to bring their horses up there to ride during inclement weather. Hmmm...

Montacute House boasts LOTS of stained glass windows. This was one of the ways the Phelips family showed off their wealth to their friends and neighbours.

There was a glass tax in those days.

The more windows in one's home, the wealthier one was.

The grounds and gardens of Montacute House were delightful. I could have wandered around them for days.

I guess that what a lot of ladies did in those days, wasn't it? That, and getting dressed for dinner every night.

Good grief! I'd be bored to tears if that is how I had to live my life.

Lord and Lady of the manor. NOT!

We found an ancient Cedar of Lebanon tree complete with a wooden swing! Joe took some photos of me sitting on it. I had a few swings then got off and began to walk to another part of the garden.

Not two seconds later I heard HOWLING! I ran back through the hedge and there was Joe clutching his head, yelling, spinning in circles, about to drop to his knees.

"What happened?" I asked him.

With tears in his eyes, he told me he was walking (head down) looking at the camera to see the photos he had just taken of me.

See that huge limb behind me in the photo below? The low one that curves down and around? Yup. He walked right into it. Broke his sunglasses, cut his forehead and caused enough noise that people came running in all directions.

Joe thanked everyone for their concern, quickly recovered and we continued with our lovely tour.

And the best thing about visiting country houses in the summer? Stopping in the village for a pint of beer afterwards! And watching a couple play checkers on a giant game board.

*Please on the photos to enlarge them.

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