Chatsworth House

Following on my previous post as we head deeper into the Peak District National Park, we arrived at Chatsworth House, nestled against the River Derwent, about noon. They’re about 10 minutes or so from the town of Bakewell. Chatsworth is the seat of the Cavendish family, the Dukes of Devonshire. The current Duke is the 12th in the line. There’s quite a lot of history about the family and the house, both on Wikipedia and on the website for Chatsworth itself so I won’t go into it a whole lot.

The estate as a whole covers over 100 acres and there is actually quite a lot to visit if you were to spend the whole day here. You can walk around the extensive gardens and trails where you will see various out buildings, statues and fountains. You can visit their working farm and see some animals, mainly geared towards children. The old stables buildings have a restaurant and shops in them and there’s a little shuttle that will take you up the little hill to it if you want but it’s not far and not steep.

The house, of course, is the jewel in the crown. There are various prices for entry, depending on what you are going to see. The house alone without the farm or charity gift donation is 18 pounds for an adult which is not that expensive compared to other similar attractions. It’s 12 pounds to just visit the gardens and 6 to just visit the farmyard. They also let you take photos for your own use.

The Painted Hall, Chatsworth

We arrived at midday, as I said, and the parking lot was very full so we had to park quite a bit away from the house. Never mind, we walked over to the house, passed through a pretty courtyard and entered to the ticket area. That done, we went up a few steps and turned into the Painted Hall, the very impressive entry area. It really is impressive, with every inch of the ceilings and much of the walls covered in murals and paintings. The floor is black and white checked tiles and the hall is ringed with antique furniture, sculpture and artifacts. You could probably spend a half hour just looking at everything there.

There’s a route you follow through the public rooms, about 25 or 30 out of a couple hundred, most of which are the private rooms for the family.

Another highlight on the ground floor is the elaborate chapel with a high white carved altar piece. The ceiling in here is painted as well. We come back around  to the Painted Hall then go up the big staircase to a landing, also with painted ceilings and also some more lovely statues and artwork. There are also come cases with old swords and pistols here. It’s a good vantage point for photos into the Painted Hall as well. Up some more stairs to the upper floor of the house.

The beautiful music room, Chatsworth

Here you have the state rooms, including an elaborate Baroque music room and a state bedroom with a tall canopied bed and walls lined with paintings. The music room is filled with silver and gold pieces and very fancy marble tables. At the very back, behind a slightly opened door, is another well known sight. It looks as if there’s a violin hanging on the wall behind the door, but in fact, it’s fake. It’s a tromp d’oeil painting. There are portraits of various members of the generations of Cavendishes scattered around the rooms and hallways and there’s another smaller room lined with Old Masters paintings and sketches including a large portrait painted by Rembrandt.

The house is filled with art and sculpture and antiques. There’s a model of the house in a glass case in the Oak Room, next to (I think) the chapel, so called because it’s lined in oak panelling and carving. Also in here, bracing the fireplace, are two long narwhal tusks which is one of the more unusual finds in the house. In one room there was a portrait of Henry VIII, which we didn’t expect! There’s so much to look at and the guides or curators in most of the rooms are really good. They know their stuff, about the family and the house and volunteer information if they see you curious about something and very willingly answer any questions you have. There are little information cards in most of the rooms but the guides are even better and filling in details.

Even the corridors are lined with things to look at or have good views out over the gardens and courtyards. There are some rooms you can’t go right into and can only look from the end or they are partly roped off, such as the bedrooms and the library which looks like it would be a fascinating place to delve into if you could get in there. I would imagine the priceless rare books make that impossible. The light in the library is also kept low but there are lamps lit on the tables. There’s an ante-library as well because one of the dukes, the 6th I believe, was such a book collector that he overflowed his library. There are apparently over 17,000 books. Just past the library and ante-library is the state dining room with it’s long table set with china, and lots and lots of silver!

The last room you go through on the route is the sculpture gallery and that leads to the inevitable gift shop, housed in what was the orangery. There used to be a huge glass conservatory in the gardens but that was torn down in the early 20th century as it was too difficult and costly to maintain. Another interesting fact was that the house was used as a girls’ school during World War II and there were several displays about that on as well.

The cascade was built around 1700 as a series of steps where the water from fountains at the top would flow. The house was built in 1703.

We took well over an hour to walk through the house looking at everything and taking photos. After, we got a drink at an outdoor take out stand and sat in the sun for a rest. We didn’t feel up to traipsing around too much of the garden but walked down past the end of the house and up near the Cascade fountain to have a look. We decided not to go up to the Stables since we’d already had a cuppa and thought, as we were getting hungry, we might as well head off. We had a country pub to go to and a beautiful big late lunch to enjoy.

The Royal Oak is an award winning pub between Buxton and Bakewell and not too far from Chatsworth. They have some rooms and camping facilities and though are a little off the beaten track, it is well worth making the drive. The atmosphere is very friendly. There are several small rooms, with open fires and copper artifacts on the stone walls. They have a very good beer selection including a really tasty Bakewell best Bitter and a cloudy cider on tap called Rosie the Pig!

Their menu has lots to pick from and includes traditional pub grub and excellent up to day items as well. The special we were offered was guinea fowl with savoy cabbage and leek mashed potatoes with red wine gravy. Too tempting to pass up for me though G. decided on a mixed grill which came on a large platter filled with various types of meat and lovely homemade chips.  The food was hot and absolutely mouth watering. Well deserved for the awards they’ve won and I told them, too!

Full and satisfied, we finally headed back to Salford after a long and very enjoyable day.

Friday Drive Through the Peak District

Through the heart of the Peak District

Friday turned out to be a stunningly beautiful day, with blue skies and warm temperatures. Perfect for a drive out to the Peak District National Park and a visit to Chatsworth House.

But first, we head out of Salford, GPS (satnav) fired up and pointing us to the town of Castleton in the heart of the Peak district. As is often the case, the GPS sometimes gets it wrong and at one point, very near Castleton, it took us in a circle that included a narrow track not much bigger than a driveway. We weren’t sure so we followed the route but when we realized we’d come back around again, we didn’t go around again even though it wanted us to. Technology!

This area is also known for the Blue John mines. You can visit them and go down into the caverns to see how they mine this rare stone. The “Blue John” name comes from the colours in the stone, shades of blue and yellow and purple. Blue in French is Bleu and Yellow is Jaune, thus, Blue John.

The stone is really lovely but not plentiful and in fact is unique to Castleton. You can’t find it anywhere else in the world, so the decorative items they make, including really pretty jewelry, is not really cheap but it’s very different and a nice local souvenir. It wouldn’t be a good attraction to visit if you have any mobility issues or heart problems due to stairs. I’m not great on too many stairs so that’s out for me.

Driving down into the valley near Castleton

Anyway, we took the turn off for Peveril Castle which was just next to the mine visitor centre. We drove down a steep hill into a valley, with the steep hills rising on both sides of the road. The scenery in the Peaks is really lovely, very nearly as nice as the Lake District, just without the beautiful lakes!

At the bottom of the hill we arrive at Castleton, a nice little town which is central for walkers and hikers. It’s got lots of lovely shops and pubs and cafes and most of the shops feature the Blue John items, the other reason the town is a visitor attraction.

Castleton in the Peak District

We parked, paid and displayed for an hour to stretch our legs, have an ice cream and walk down the high street, window shopping and then we were away to Chatsworth itself, about 20 minutes’ drive from there. Near the parking lot, we even saw a small grassy area with a few sheep, right there in town. While this isn’t anything to get all excited about, I did enjoy watching the lambs skitter about.

Peveril Castle overlooking Castleton

Castleton is a very pretty town, too. Some of the oldest cottages and buildings are over 400 years old. The remains of an 11th century castle, Peveril, looks over the town and can be visited but you have to climb up there on a trail and a staircase. Again, not for the faint of heart or mobility impaired. The square keep that is standing today dates from about the middle of the 1100s. There’s a pretty church in the town with a Norman arch. If we hadn’t been heading to Chatsworth, we might have taken more time to look around there.

We’ll continue that in another blog post.

Ordsall Hall

Ordsall Hall, Salford

Ordsall Hall is a Tudor era manor house in Salford near the redeveloped Salford Quays. While there has been a house on this spot for 750 years, the current one dates back to the late 15th century and it also has connections to the infamous Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Guy Fawkes is the most noted member of the conspiracy that attempted to blow up Parliament and Ordsall Hall was allegedly one of the locations where the group met to form their plans, the Radclyff family who owned it for several centuries, being Catholic.

The Radclyffe family sold it in 1662 and it’s been used as quite a few things over the years. It’s been a museum since 1972 and was recently refurbished and is free to enter, open Sunday through Thursday as a rule. The hall can be hired for events and weddings which would be really cool.

Rear of Ordsall Hall

The first time I visited here was in 2001 and I was eager to see it again since the renovations. There wasn’t as much of it open to the public as there is now. We only had a half hour to see it before closing and that is nearly enough time as it’s not very big. There is also an upstairs space used for exhibitions and a little gallery but we didn’t have to time to have a look. There’s a small gift shop area and café on the ground floor as well.

Timbered beam ceiling of the Great Hall

You enter into the Great Hall with its superb beamed ceiling and lovely leaded glass windows. The hall is set up for a banquet with the antique oak table from the 1500s, and several wonderful old cabinets around the edges, near the big wooden studded doors. The hall itself is dated to 1512. The ceilings and the windows are really beautiful, especially the bay oriel window overlooking the knot garden at the back of the house (which is where the entrance is).

The Star Chamber, the oldest surviving part of the hall

The next room is the oldest part of the house, the Star Chamber, so called due to the metallic stars installed in the ceiling. There are some wattle and daub wall fillers still viewable and the old fireplace here still shows gouges in the stone where people used to hone their swords. This Star Chamber is the location of the supposed meeting between Guy Fawkes and Robert Catesby as they came up with their infamous plot. There’s no real evidence to support it but the lane following one side of the property is named after Fawkes.

There is even an alleged ghost and they have a “ghost cam” set up in the house. Also in the Star Chamber is a suit of armour and a box of armoured helmets. There was a table with an old writing desk on it and feather “pen” and another with some old musical instruments on display. There’s an Elizabethan globe in one of the other rooms. They also have six pieces of medieval stained glass hangings, mainly “heraldic” symbols like one of a bull’s head in the kitchen and two hanging on the oriel window off the Great Hall.

Italian plaster ceiling

On the top floor, there is also a room with an Italianate plaster ceiling which was rare in the northwest. This is newly opened to the public after the recent restorations. This is normally closed to the public but you can look into it through a glass panel.

The Great Chamber

You can then go upstairs to see another solar chamber, the Great chamber, with a canopied bed and an old fashioned bath (reproduction). There’s also a gorgeous off-white Elizabethan dress on display with really beautiful detail on the bodice, sleeves and around the ruff. There are a few pieces of costume in the wardrobe like hats and ruffs that you can try on if you want. The hall is often used for school outings and they have costumed guides to explain the history of the house to schoolkids.

Back on the ground floor there’s a kitchen set up as it would have looked in Elizabethan times and which has interesting items to look at as well and it’s got a recorded voice over of “life in the kitchen”. Some of the items are of later eras such as a bread oven from Victorian times.

 

History:

Sir John Radclyffe campaigned with Edward III and was allowed to bring back some weavers to his manor where he set up a sort of factory and made his money in cloth production. The exterior of the oldest part is half-timber beamed and there is brick addition on the house as well. It used to be built around a courtyard but only two wings are left now, an L-shape. After the Radclyffes sold the house, it went through a number of owners. The last time it was occupied as a residence was in 1871.

More about the hall here.

My Flickr set of photos is here.

Navigating Heathrow

Air Canada's 777-300, Not as big as the double decker planes but pretty frigging big all the same

Air Canada’s 777-300, Not as big as the double decker planes but pretty frigging big all the same

No matter how many times I’ve come through London Heathrow, to change terminals I always seem to get it wrong somewhere along the way. I could use the excuse that it changes over the years as they renovate or I could say that I was used to Terminal 3 to Terminal 1 changes and then had to get used to changing to T5 in the past couple of years. But no. I think I’ll blame the long overnight flight.

I flew this time from Halifax in what must be Air Canada’s largest jet, a 777-300 which can, apparently, seat 500 when full. It wasn’t and the back where I was had loads of empty space so people were all spread out and comfy. I had three seats to myself. I watched a movie and then tried to doze a bit. Not sure if I did.

We were a little late getting in because there was a delay out of Halifax due to some de-icing and we had to wait a short while for the arrival gate as well. It takes pretty much a good hour minimum to get through Heathrow if you are changing terminals. You deplane and follow the purple Flight Connections signs and it’s fairly simple though a bit of a trek through the long corridors. You descend an escalator to an area where you get a shuttle bus to the next terminal, a 10 minute right through the working underguts of the airport.

Again, when arriving at the next terminal you need to follow the same purple flight connection signs and there’s where it all falls apart for me.  Somehow I seem to get into the wrong passport queue nearly every time. It usually happens when I’ve either got a tight connection or when the terminal is heaving with crowds. It’s a busy place even when it’s “quiet” woe betide you if you arrive on a morning when it looks like Trafalgar Square on New Year’s Eve.

If you don’t hold a British or EU passport, you need the “other passports” line which is usually the longest and slowest but at least there are lots of border guards so the line does move well. When I arrived at Terminal 5 this morning, I went to the first large queue I saw. It took about 10 minutes to snake through but I was a bit confused when he asked me what time my connection was and if I was leaving the terminal. Um. No. Right, I was in the wrong queue for connections.

Out of that one and down a little further and into another queue, shorter but with only one person doing the check in at first. Soon, though, there were two more and I made it through that one. This time, I got to skip one of the usual queues because my Air Canada web check in gave me both boarding passes, that’s a first. Since British Airways has been doing the Manchester flip, up to the last time I came through, I had to stand in another long queue to get the boarding pass once I got to T5. This time I had both so that saved me time.

You have to get your eye-retina scan thingy which only takes a second and then you go through the security scan, unloading and unpacking stuff like your laptop, liquids, maybe shoes, etc. Finally I can sit with a cup of tea and cool off. It’s always hot and sweating working my way through the crowds. I like to make sure I have several hours between flights to ensure that I am not rushing on a late arrival. I hate that kind of stress!

The next flight for me is pretty short, though not that comfortable as a rule. Today, that flight wasn’t very full, either, so I had the three seats to myself. Result! and thanks to the Travel Gods. My Luggage made it through with me too, that’s the Luggage Gods at work there!

When plans change

passport_leafOff to the UK on Friday night and I’m not looking forward to the flight. I do love to travel but the process of getting there is not a lot of fun. There’s small, cramped seats. I can’t afford to go business class and these days, what you get there is a little individual “pod” which doesn’t really look that comfortable, either, except it can recline and there’s nobody squashed up beside you. The width of them doesn’t look all that much wider than a standard seat. Before these came out, business class seats were like big comfy lazy-boy chairs!

And I’m getting a cold. I have the sniffly stuffed up nose stage at the moment. If the travel gods are with me, it might not get worse than that, but I doubt I’ll be that lucky. Flying with a head cold will be awful and I figure I’ll end up spreading the germs and making a number of other passengers ill too, even though I try to keep it to myself. All that recycled air, though, isn’t condusive to health.

The other reason is that my plans have changed. We have had to cancel Paris. My partner’s father is very ill and we really can’t be out of the country. We don’t know how much longer we’ll have him so every day counts. We might get to London on Easter weekend depending on how things go but as I’m due to fly back out of London, I will have to go. If he comes with me, at least he can be back in Manchester by train in a couple of hours if need be. That’s easier than trying to get home from Paris.

Again, though, that still depends on the situation. I may need to change my ticket and extend my time in Manchester. I did get cancellation and interruption on my flight to the UK so any costs incurred in changing should be covered by that, at least. I didn’t get insurance on anything else because I’ve been burned on the “pre-existing condition” clause before and even though his dad seemed to be stable when I booked the France part of the trip, he did have a “condition” and I more or less figured a doctor could cite that when filling out a form.

That’s what happened to me the last time I tried to recover the cost of a cancelled flight. The doctor said the patient (my father) was not stable at the time I booked the ticket. That was news to me! While he was recovering from major surgery, we all thought it was just a matter of time. Turns out it was, but not what we thought. Looking back, the doctor was right, and looking back, we can see it but at the time, we didn’t know any different. We thought he was just longer recovering than expected. So after that, I’ve been reluctant to trust buying the insurance. I did this time because everything seemed like things would be ok to get to the UK and back. And this time, if I have to use the insurance, it will only be about changing the return date and those costs associated.

Having said that, I did or will get 3/4 of the money back for the pre-paid hotel in Paris and that will cover the cost of the flight and Eurostar which were also prepaid. That’s a break-even there. There are a few other things that got cancelled that were non-refundable but they won’t add up to a lot. Extending the rental car in Manchester an extra week didn’t cost me double, either, which was a nice surprise, it’s only costing another 50% and that wasn’t prepaid.

This will be a vacation from work, and we’ll be spending our two weeks together which is important when you live 3000 miles apart for the moment. I hope we’ll be able to get out for a day trip or two just for a drive somewhere. We’ll need that to recharge our batteries.

It’s the way life is. We help each other, support each other, and get through it. Paris can wait.

Travel Theme: Gardens

Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack has given us Gardens as this week’s theme.

My first love is architecture but I used to travel with a woman who loved to garden and when we shared our photos, you could always tell whose were whose. Mine were all buildings, doors and windows and hers were all gardens and flowers and plants and trees. Since then, I’ve tried to take photos of flowers and gardens.

Italian gardens, Trentham, England

Gardens at Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Culpepper Garden, Leeds Castle, England

Where I live, Halifax, Nova Scotia, We have a beautiful Victorian era public gardens. There is a big duck pond, a little stream, flowers galore, rare trees and other specimens of plants. There are fountains, a beautiful gazebo, statues and a little cafe. It’s a wonderful place to walk in the summer, the annual zombie walk streams through here on it’s way through the city,  and is a hugely popular place for wedding photos. Here are a few photos from our Public Gardens.