The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, known as Dorchester Abbey, is located in the picturesque south Oxfordshire village of Dorchester-on-Thames. Below is my choice for a retirement home, nearby!
Don't I wish!
Dorchester Abbey grew out of a 12th century monastery and is now a parish church, decorated on the day we visited in May 2018 for a wedding later in the day. Note that this is the Oxford village of Dorchester, not the Dorset town.
The lead baptismal font, one of only thirty remaining in England, dates from c. 1170 stands on a limestone base from the Victorian era. In the background are remnants of medieval decoration in the People's Chapel.
Just above the altar table is a painting of the crucifixion, from the 14th century, re-painted by the Victorians. The cross in the arch above was painted over other earlier scenes. The modern cross, of stainless steel, reflects the cross above it. It was created in 2010 by Brian Catling.
The Victorian window in the Requiem Chapel.
Click on the pictures above for full size versions. This effigy is likely to be the knight William de Valance the Younger who died in 1282. He is unsheathing his sword, and his feet are crossed over the head of a lion. He was probably a knight on one of the Crusades; the sculpture originally would have been brightly colored.
The Victorians stained glass East Window in the main sanctuary was made from glass collected from other windows in the church about 1814 added to designs and glass from later in the 19th century.
Nearby, we stopped for a drop of refreshment at the George. Thanks, Beth Elliot for showing us around 'your world.' Below, Beth's gorgeous lilac bush.
Last May, 2018, Kristine Hughes Patrone and I arrived in Reading, Berkshire, to consult the archives at the Museum of Rural History and to visit with our pal, author Beth Elliot. Beth was kind enough to drive us around the neighboring countryside whenever we could take a breather from trying to decipher the letters of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, whose handwriting leaves much to be
Above, Kristine Hughes Patrone and Beth Elliott; lower, Kristine and Victoria, all overlooking the picturesque village of Ewelme in Oxfordshire.
Note the cleaning equipment at the door. A group of church volunteers was sprucing up the premises, dusting, vacuuming, polishing and arranging flowers.
The Baptismal Font has an amazing wooden cover, intricately carved. It is raised and lowered by a set of pulleys. Aren't you glad you don't have to dust it?
The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin has foundations dating back to the early 15th century but Christian celebrations were held here long before that.
Thomas Chaucer, son of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer, author of The Canterbury Tales, and his daughter Alice (1404-1475), wife of William de la Pole, the 1st Duke of Suffolk, are buried in the church.
Alice de la Pole is buried in a cadaver tomb, also known as a memento mori tomb. The effigy atop the alabaster bier shows Alice, accompanied by an angel, as she was in life. Below is a representation of her remains. Such tombs, also called 'transi' can be seen in many English churches and cathedrals.
Outside the church, in a more familiar kind of cemetery, are many graves, including that of Jerome K Jerome (1859-1927), author of Three Men in a Boat, a humorous story of a holiday boating on the Thames.
Below, photos of the Almshouses built by the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk in the 15th century.
A charming village on a brilliant spring day with good friends...what could be better?
Kristine and I had to return to our work in the archives, but Beth had more adventures in mind for us soon.
Our introduction to the famous Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, was the famous Henley Bridge so often seen in the annual Royal Regatta races, an important part of the London Season.
At our visit in May, we were a little early for the races July 4-8 this year, but they were already preparing.
Okay, I have to admit, we were pretending to be at the regatta, drinking Pimm's at the Angel on a warm sunny day.
Guess why I loved this vessel.
The swan, looking for a handout.
Church of St. Mary has a 16th Century tower.
The Red Lion...do you ever wonder how many of these exist in Britain. Or the White Horse Inn....
Today we were content with luncheon and swans, but perhaps someday we'll be there to watch the competition.
Above, the North Facade of Sudbury Hall; below, the South or Garden Facade. On July 7, 2018, this blog visited Lyme Park, the setting for exterior scenes of Pemberley in the 1995 BBC miniseries of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (the version starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy). The interior scenes of the series were shot here at Sudbury Hall, though of course there are many other excellent features of the estate we can visit.
George Vernon (1635-1702) designed and oversaw the creation of this house beginning in 1660, after Charles II took the restored throne, and continuing into the 1690's. Vernon, descended from the Vernon family of Haddon Hall, married an heiress and inherited this estate, to which he devoted his life. Below the magnificent plasterwork ceiling of the Long Gallery on the top floor.
The Long Gallery is more than 165 feet long, topped by the work of Robert Bradbury and James Pettifer in the 1670's.
In this scene from Pride & Prejudice, the BBC 1995 version, the housekeeper shows family portraits to the visiting Elizabeth Bennet and the Gardiners.
Obviously the gallery serves as an excellent exhibition space for the family's art collection as well as other treasures.
The ceiling designs are intricate indeed. All sorts of flora and fauna are included, such as the shells above, and even grasshoppers elsewhere.
A brilliant Oriental Laquered Cabinet.
The Red Room is also known as the Queen's Room. After her husband's death, Queen Adelaide lived here for portion of the 1840's.
The alabaster chimneypiece was carved by William Wilson in 1670.
Above and below, scenes from Pride & Prejudice, where Darcy changes his coat.
The elaborately decorated staircase
The elaborate Staircase is a work of art in itself.
The Gardiners and Elizabeth follow the housekeeper upstairs.
Above, part of our tour group admires the staircase and ceiling.
Even in the film, everyone admires the staircase. Below, under the stairs is a painting by Laguerre of Juno and the Peacock, c. 1692. Louis Laguerre (1663-1721). a French artist, painted numerous ceilings in British houses such as Chatsworth, Blenheim and Burghley, as well as here at Sudbury.
A great deal to admire.
As we have seen, the ceilings throughout the house are amazing. The painting above, on the Drawing Room ceiling, is entitled Venus petitioning Jupiter, though the artist's name is unknown.
Among the best known of the many artists whose work is on view in Sudbury Hall, is the sculptor Grinling Gibbons (1678-1721) whose exquisite wood carvings can be found in the Drawing Room. His work was accomplished in 1678 and records book show a payment to him of £40.
In addition to touring the house and gardens, the NT hosts the Museum of Childhood on the premises.
Bath's Royal Crescent, 30 terraced houses, was built 1767-1774 by John Wood the Younger, home of many illustrious personages over the 250 years of its fame. It is fronted by 114 Ionic columns in a harmonious and symmetrical design famed worldwide.
This view of the Royal Crescent from 1794 shows No 1 at the right center. When I visited in July 2018, however, the famous lawn had browned in the unusual English hot weather and lack of rainfall -- and you know what replaced that carriage.
View of the Royal Crescent from the drawing room of Number One.
The restored house at Number One stands at the easternmost end of the Royal Crescent; please ignore the autos...pretend they are barouches.
Here, outside the entrance is a more period-accurate method of transportation, requiring, of course, two strong chairmen.
This model of No. 1 Royal Crescent gives an ideal of what the building would look like without all the cars and the attached houses of the Crescent. The building is leased to the Bath Preservation Trust as a museum of life as it would have been for residents in the years 1776-1796. Many furnishings are on loan from other museums.
The Parlour is described as a sort of 'family room,' where informal meals were served, the newspapers read, household business accomplished, and casual comfort was valued over show.
To view full-size images (above) click on each one.
The Dining Room was designed for elegant meals in which the guests enjoyed the finest in food and display. The table and sideboard are set for a sumptuous dessert.
To view full-size images (above) click on each one.
The Withdrawing Room was the height of fashionable elegance. The portrait over the sofa is of Mary Delaney, on loan from The harpsichord sas made in 1770 by Jacob Kirkman of Alsace (1710-1792).
To view full-size images (above) click on each one.
The Lady's Bedchamber is furnished as a retreat for the female resident, with a dressing table, washstand with a bourdaloue (ladies' chamber pot) and sewing table.
I particularly enjoyed seeing the Cabinet of Curiosities, in which gentlemen of leisure assembled and displayed their items of natural history and artifacts from foreign cultures, all reflecting their interests in scientific study and collection.
In the service courtyard and tradesmen's staircase, the gossiping maids must have bee on a break or with the lounging footmen behind the scenes
Recently, the service wing was restored and fitted out as it would have been on the cusp of the 19th century. Always fascinating is the number of people needed below stairs to maintain the leisurely life of their masters above.
The Housekeeper's Room
L-r from top: passageway connecting to service wing; kitchen implements; bottom: ingredients for cooking, with sugar loaf in the center; the scullery.
This aerial photo from Wikipedia shows the perfectly uniform facade and the varied rear arrangements of the individual houses. No regulations for the backs were included with the precise directions for the fronts! Other than the picture above and the two at the beginning of the post, the photos were taken by me in July 2018.
It is often said, the Americans and the British are divided by their common language. How true that is! And a few other quirks on either or both sides! Here are few signs I chuckled over.
At Bramall Hall, restricting dogs from the house.
You never know!! Bzzzzzz....
Above, at Lyme Hall.
Fish n' Chips in Ryde, Isle of Wight
A shop in Chichester
At Montisfont Abbey
Somehow this sign in Salisbury Cathedral rattled me. The juxtaposition, while practical, seemed bizarre.
A house in Bath
This parking sign almost obliterated by the cars in front of it could be anywhere in the world -- this is in Lyme Regis.
To conclude...keep it closed!
This beautiful regency work table stands in Motissfont Abbey, Hampshire. Here is the National Trust's description: Sewing Table 1811-1820 Mahogany, rosewood, silk and brass; has also a backgammon board
The china at Motissfont.
Above, a lovely silk pelisse from Lyme Park.
A traveling medicine chest from Beaulieu Palace
Ticket to the Coronation of George IV in 1821
Ensemble worn by Baron Montagu to the Coronation of George IV in 1821; from Beaulieu Abbey
Sketch of the Baron and friend in costume
This print is Harriet, 4th Duchess of Buccleuch (1773-1814), youngest daughter of the 1st Viscount Sydney; she married Charles, 4th Duke of Buccleuch, in 1795. The eldest male of their nine children was Walter Francis, 5th Duke, great-great grandfather of the present Baron Montagu.
The Dolphin in Southampton was a coaching inn for centuries. Jane Austen celebrated her 18th birthday here in 1793 and was known to dance in its ballroom at assemblies.
One of many regency-era portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1760-1830), this view of the Honourable Emily Mary Lamb was painted in 1803 when she was sixteen years of age. At the National Gallery.
This marble bust of George Granville Leveson-Gower, 1st Duke of Sutherland (1758-1833), was scuplted by Sir Francis Chantry (1781-1841), a leading artist of the era. In the National Portrait Gallery
Dover House, in Whitehall, London, Grade-I listed, once known as Melbourne House (1793-1830), home of Viscount and Viscountess Melbourne and their children, including William Lamb (later Prime Minister Melbourne), his wife Lady Caroline Lamb, Frederick Lamb, and the above pictured Hon. Emily Lamb. In 1792, the Duke of York, then resident in the structure, traded this building for the Melbourne's home, Albany in Piccadilly, now divided into apartments. Dover House is currently the Scotland office, and sits next to Horse Guards.
At the left, above, an 1828 portrait of Jane Whittaker, wife of Sir George Crewe, 8th Baronet, by Ramsay Richard Reinagle; at Calke Abbey; at right, the National Trust image
View of Chiswick Villa, Derby China, 1811-15; displayed at Chatsworth
Above, One of a pair of D-shaped commodes, 1788, by Samuel Cooper and John Savage for Gillows of Lancaster; Inlaid mahogany with tulipwood, from the Courtauld Galleries, London; below, Embroidered kid gloves, from The Vyne, Hampshire
Silk Suit belonging to Edward Austen (1767-1852), brother of Jane Austen; thought to be worn by him about the time, c. 1782, he was adopted by wealthy distant relatives, the Knights, from whom he inherited Chawton Great House and Godmersham Park in Kent; seen behind (reflective) glass in Chawton House Library, Hampshire. At right, his journal from his Grand Tour.
Above, the north front of Kedleston Hall from The National Trust.
I was saving my energy for seeing the house and gardens, so I did not walk far enough way to get the whole edifice, so thanks, NT!
I suppose the sheep follow their own inclinations, but they certainly seemed to be attractively arrayed across the park.
The South Front of the center structure was re-designed after architect Robert Adam replaced the original architect Matthew Brettingham. Adam brought a Neo-Classical approach to alter the former plans, such as the inspiration for this facade being Rome's Arch of Constantine.
Brettingham's plan shows a central pavilion flanked by four wings. But only two were actually built. In the photo below from the website, on the left is the kitchen and the church. The right-hand wing is the family residence.
Eventually only two of the side buildings were constructed, as shown in this aerial photo taken from the south,.
This drawing from the NT Kedleston Guidebook, illustrates how the central pavilion is designed for entertainment: a vast hall for large gatherings ends in a dramatic rotunda for display. The circuit of rooms on the sides include a library, drawing room, dining parlor, music room, and state bedroom.
The Marble Hall, above and below, boasts twenty 25-foot high columns of Derbyshire alabaster, actually not marble at all.
Below, the Rotunda or Saloon, modeled by Adam after Rome's pantheon, with an oculus at the center top.
Artworks are displayed high on the walls., both paintings of Ancient Rome and carved friezes.
The alcoves are decorated with urns on plinths.
The sun shining through the oculus moves across the room throughout the day.
The Drawing Room was designed by James Paine before Adam took control of the house. The Marble Fireplace Surround was designed by Michael Sprang and the four priceless sofas by John Linnell of London in the mid-18th c. The Waterford chandelier was hung in 1770.
The Music Room contains both a harpsichord and an organ.
The Dining Room decor is relatively restrained in comparison with the adjacent magnificence.
In the alcove in the dining room, you see a collection of serving pieces once used on formal occasions.
The Wardrobe, a part of the State Apartment
The State Bed is one of those exuberant creations by Adam that defy one's imagination. Below, one of Adam's other such beds at Osterley Park. Certainly fit for a monarch!
Back at Kedleston, we wandered through the many displays devoted to the family, especially to the 1st Marquess Curzon and his wife, the American-born Mary Leiter of Chicago and Lake Geneva, WI, who served as Viceroy and Vicereine of India in 1899-1905.
Mary, Lady Curzon, died at the early age of 35. She was the mother of three daughters, said to be the models for the character of Cora, Lady Grantham, and her daughters in Downton Abbey. The Curzons are buried and memorialized in All Saints Church at the Hall. Below. the marble effigies are watched over by a pair of angels, as scupted by Australian artist Sir Bertram Mackennal.
The Garden provides many lovely vistas.
A copy of the Medicean Lion by Joseph Wilson, on a plinth designed by Robert Adam,, c. 1765.
Last week I wrote about the back-to-back attached houses that makeup Wentworth Woodhouse. seen above in an aerial shot. Built in the mid-18th century by an immensely wealthy and politically-connected Whig family, by the mid-20th century, it had become a gigantic 'white elephant,' more expensive to staff and maintain than anyone could afford after wartime austerity and taxes.
The story of the great estate is told in Catherine Bailey's excellent 2014 book, Black Diamonds.
Below left, the wedding portrait of the Hon. William "Billy" Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, heir to the 10th Duke of Devonshire, and Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy, daughter of the former U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James Joseph P. Kennedy and sister of the future U.S. president John F. Kennedy. Cavendish was killed just a few months after their wartime wedding, leaving Kick the widowed Marchioness of Huntington. Note in the picture at the rear behind Kick, is Joe Kennedy, the eldest brother, who also died during the war.
The picture at right is Peter Wentworth-Fitzwilliam. the 8th and last Earl Fitzwilliam, with whom Kick fell in love a few years later. They died together in a 1948 plane crash on their way to a tryst in southern France. Not only was this another tragic Kennedy family loss, it was a disaster for the future of Wentworth Woodhouse. Death duties were astronomical and after many futile attempts to "save" the estate, it was leased to the Lady Mabel School for Female Physical Education Teachers.
Imagine the dancing classes held on this priceless marble floor. And sadly, due to coal mining near the house, parts of the structure have settled, leaving cracks and other damage.
After the college moved out, individuals made valiant attempts to save the house(s), but the millions needed were beyond belief. A number of recent films were partially shot here.
In Mr. Turner (2014), the Marble Hall served as the Royal Academy of Art in the biopic of Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851), renowned British artist.
In Darkest Hour (2017), the Whistlejacket Room appeared as Buckingham Palace when Mr. Churchill, played by Gary Oldman met with the King.
Below, shots from Victoria. The Queen reviews troops with Prince Albert in front of Wentworth Woodhouse.
In 2017, the Preservation Trust was formed to raise funds and protect Wentworth Woodhouse. They have daunting tasks ahead of them, including stabilizing the foundations. Weddings and other group events can be booked and the house and gardens are open for tours. For more information, see
Wentworth Woodhouse is the largest privately owned house in Europe, built in two sections by the Marquess of Rockingham in South Yorkshire. This is the East front.
The West front is a baroque style house which did not meet with its owner's approval after completion, so he built the Palladian style structure, which fit in with the prevailing norms of his aristocratic Whig friends.
On the series Victoria. one of many film projects set here.
We entered on the ground floor into a forest of pillars
holding up the floor in the marble hall above
A magnificent ballroom or site for banqueting
with a balcony for good viewing.
Adjacent rooms were elegantly appointed,,.
Above left, in the Whitstlejacket Room, they have hung a copy of the famous painting at Wentworth Woodhouse; on the right, the original by George Stubbs at the National Gallery, London. Whistlejacket was a champion racehorse owned by the family.
In the Van Dyke Room, a magnificent fireplace.
These rooms are used for tour groups, lectures, and weddings. The Trust hopes to refurnish them appropriately when suitable pieces are acquired.
For now, the reception rooms are easily set up for meetings, weddings, and banquets.
On the upper floors, considerable repairs are needed, making a gigantic task for the new Preservation Trust.
One of the few bedrooms we saw...of the dozens and dozens in the house.
The Palladian window in the chapel
Here is the point at which the two houses meet, and the remaining bits of an earlier house, which include this Garden Gate, attributed to architect Inigo Jones.
The facade of the baroque house, quite handsome in its way, but apparently smacking of the wrong political and social mores.
Only a few remainders of the once-magnificent gardens are still in evidence, but the view from the South Terrace is lovely.
The 15-foot high "Punch Bowl," a gigantic urn, was illuminated for important functions. The folly below was designed in the style of an ionic temple.
The fascinating book about Wentworth Woodhouse and its families reads like a novel. It tells the whole story, great successes, hard time, dazzling fortunes, famous scandals and tragedies.
Victoria Hinshaw, Author