Wednesday, 6 April 2016
We're halfway through my second week of leave and I really don't feel ready to go back to work :( I guess it hasn't helped that, in the middle of the first week, I succumbed to a sickness bug which laid me low for a few days. That meant we haven't done nearly as much as I hoped. Oh well, there have been good times too and today I'm sharing the first of our days out.
On Good Friday we decided to head out to Dunham Massey to make use of our new National Trust membership. The last time I visited was with my American penfriend and her husband when they were over here about 9 years ago! I was wondering if much had changed.
It wasn't the best journey as there were hold-ups on the motorway and everyone else seemed to be heading to Dunham to make the most of the only day predicted to be sunny for the whole of the Easter weekend! A 40 minute journey took over 2 hours.
Still, we made it in the end and it was wonderful to be out in the fresh air and open spaces. Above is your first view as you walk up from the visitor centre.
We wandered around for a while to get our bearings and stretch our legs before our timed entry to the house. This is the mill which is celebrating its 400th anniversary this year. Sometimes you get a bit blase about all the history surrounding us in the UK but I did get a real thrill to see 1660 carved on the millstone on the left.
Inside you could see the waterwheel in action and some of the old tools including the Dunham Ripper!
We stopped for a sandwich in front of the house..
...and slowly made our way to the entrance.
As well as the general tour of the house, there's a theme this year of Dunham's Lost Years. It refers to the scandal that erupted when the 7th Earl, George Harry, defied convention to marry a circus performer, Catharine Cox. Shunned by society they abandoned Dunham and went to live at one of their many other properties.
Each room had a theme as part of the story. Here it was the public shaming at the races when the society ladies turned their backs and parasols on the couple.
The dining room had an imagined conversation between George and Catharine.
The chapel had an exhibition by Karen Le Roy Harris around the reactions of the servants. This one represented the housekeeper, Miss Macmillan. After the Earl abandoned Dunham, only a few of the servants were kept on and the house started to fall into disrepair, represented by the cobweb.
I forget which room this was but it had lots of cardboard cutouts of all the silverware which the couple took with them when they left. They also emptied the house of a lot of its furniture, paintings and other valuables and the generations to come have spent lots of time and money trying to buy it all back.
I thought the theme was a really good idea and enjoyed all the little set pieces and artworks. I just wished they'd given us more information on the couple themselves. Catharine sounded such an interesting, feisty lady and I didn't feel I learned anything more about her.
Across the courtyard were the kitchen, dairy and washhouse.
I think the kitchen was my favourite part of the whole house. I just loved its light and high ceilings, all the shiny copper pans and domestic ware. Not that I'd probably have liked to work there in its heyday.
Back outside we wandered the gardens.
There was a whole row of these graves in memory of beloved family pets over the centuries.
And I liked this garden shelter. A sunny spot to watch the world go by.
There was still the parkland to explore but we decided to leave that for another time. We'll probably go back mid-summer to see the garden in full bloom.
One last thing. In the kitchen was an old tea cosy with a quote from the comedian, Billy Connolly:
"Never trust a man, who when left alone with a tea cosy...Doesn't try it on". Well, this (wo)man couldn't resist...
Back soon :-)