A Travellerspoint blog

Magnificent Montecute House, Summerset, England

A step back into Elizabethan Times

sunny 22 °C

Sir Edward Phelip's descendans occupied the house until the early 20th century. Following a brief period when the house was let to tenants, one of whom was Lord Curzon, who lived in the house with his mistress the novelist Elinor Glyn. It was aquirrd by the National Trust in 1927. It was built in 1598 by Sir Edward Phelip's, whose family resided here till one family member, William Phelip's gambled away the family fortune, and vast tracts of land around Montecute. The family were eventually forced to sell Montecute in 1911. It came into the National Trust in 1932. During the last quarter of the 20th century the gardens and Grounds were restored. The house and village have featured in Sense and Sensibility as were scenes from the 2004 film The Libertine. The house was used as Basketville Hall for The Hound of the Baskervills. It was also used as one of the locations for BBC's adaption of Wolf Hall. In 1975 London s National Portrait Gallery formed its first regional partnership. This has seen Montecute's long Gallery hung with an important collection of 16th and 17th century old master portraits. I really enjoyed seeing these portraits some of very famous people. The house has been beautifully furnished by the National Trust. Children are well catered for with children's activities. Some of the children were enjoying dressing up in the Elizabethan costumes and walking around the castle. We spent time in the beautiful gardens enjoying the summer blooms. There are still lots of the original features in the garden area. The gardens are very well cared for. There was a Cafe here where we had cake and coffee. We have found the standard of these eating places at the trust gardens to be very high. We walked behind the house to find two people dressed in Elizabethan costumes coming down the long drive on horse back. It was like watching a period movie. They were followed by the down cast bucket boy, ready to scope up any horse manure. We enjoyed a demonstration of different games that would have taken place on horse back in Elizabeth Times. I guess visiting in high summer season you get a lot more people around, but you also get to witness demonstrations like these, which is a bonus. Soon we headed back to Burton, we purchased some duck to cook for dinner. Have taken a liking to duck over here ever since Gillian cooked it for us in Romney Green. You can buy it already marinated just need to place it in the oven then add sauce near the end. Yum.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 14:12 Archived in England Tagged montecute Comments (0)

Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England

An awe inspiring place to visit

sunny 22 °C

On our first full day in Burton Summerset we decided to drive to Stonehenge. Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, England. Stonehenge is the remains of a ring of standing stones set within earthworks. It is in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Afe monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds. Archaeologists believe it was built anywhere from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. The site was added to world heritage sites in 1986. Archaeological evidence found by the Stonehenge Riverside Project in 2008 indicates that Stonehenge could have been a burial ground fromantic it's earliest beginnings. What a surprise we got when we arrived here. We first visited Stonehenge about 10 years earlier on a freezing winters day. There were big recent changes. Now there was a huge parking area. Also a large new visitors Centre and shop and Cafe. Also attached to this a big museum. This was all located some distance down the road from the Stonehenge Monuments. We got into this using our National Trust Pass or National heritage, I can't remember which. Your tickets give you a free bus ride up the road to Stonehenge. You can choose to walk. We got the bus there and walked back through the fields. Took about 20 minutes to walk. By then it was very hot. We also got the audio guides. You really need these as they give lots of information. We spent a long time here just admiring this great monument, taking photos and listening to our audio guides. There was a huge number of tourists here. You here so many different languages being spoken. Also a lot of people visiting from the United Kingdom with it being summer holidays for the children. We are often asked when we go into these places where we come from they seem to want to record where everyone is visiting from. We always get a great response when we say we come from New Zealand. They have either visited or know someone that has visited or they want to visit New Zealand. People certainly seem to love New Zealand. It gives oe a lift to hear that. After visiting the Monuments we had a late lunch then visited the Museum. These museums have certainly embraced the computer age with lots of audio visual and new ways of presenting the facts. They had a round room with surrounding screens which works great show casing Stonehenge. I enjoyed looking at the souvenirs and photos from bygone times. There were examples of pottery and skeletons found on some of the sites. This place is a must see while visiting England, especially if you are in the area. On the way back to our home swap in Burton we spotted the sun starting to set so hurtled down narrow country lanes looking for the way to the beach. After a short walk found the beach just in time for some photos. A very rocky beach. You could look across to the nuclear power station where Jacquie works as an Engineer. Apparently there is another nuclear power station going to be built 1 mile from Burton. Another great day lots of good memories.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 14:00 Archived in England Tagged stonehenge Comments (0)

Dunster, Summerset

Medieval Exmoor Village

sunny 22 °C

After a hearty breakfast, we packed and headed to Dunster. This village is one of the prettiest and most preserved medieval villages in England. The main street is lined with quaint cottages and shops. The octagonal yarn market is the standout here. It dates back to the end of the 15th century. Seriously damaged in the civil war, it was restored in 1647. The village was important in the late medieval wool trade many mills in the area made cloth. After visiting the information center we wandered through the village and up the hill to the castle. We arrived just in time for the medieval drum demonstration and mock battle by people clothed in medieval customers. We then headed off to visit the Castle. The history of the Castle goes back well before the Romans came to the West of England. It was granted to William de Mohan by William the Conqueror. He set about fortifying it. The de Mohuns controlled Dunster for about 300 years. It was eventually sold to the Luttrells after John de Mohuns who was wayward got into serious debt. The estate remained in the Luttrell family until 1976 when the Castle was given to the National Trust. The building was in good repair thanks to the long stability from rhe Luttrell family The interior is a treasure trove of fine paneling, plasterwork, furnishings and paintings dating back many centuries. I enjoyed the paintings. One of the celebrated features is the King Charles Room. The future King Charles occupied the room with its carved four posted bed when he visited in 1645. After visiting the house we went to watch the medieval cannon being fired. It certainly went off with a boom. We were going to get lunch here but it was busy and no where left to sit. We wandered around the old stables and streets. Also we visited the lovely cottage gardens. Finally arrived back down in the village feeling very hungry. We had lunch in the Victorian tea rooms. We then headed off to Jacquie place in Burton for our house swap. We stayed in the Mud hut at the back. So called that by the locals. The walls are straw bales. We were a bit spoilt as it was well stocked with supplies. Jacquie had dinner cooked for us so we were really spoilt. Our accommodation was very roomy so made ourselves at home.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 14:42 Archived in England Tagged dunster Comments (0)

Edinburgh to Bristol, Bristol to Summerset

Heading for our house swap in the village of Burton, Summerset

overcast 20 °C

It was early out of bed, time to pack for the next part of our journey. We had to catch a flight to Bristol. It was good to have the car to drive to the airport in. There wasn't much traffic on the road with it being early morning. Dropped off the hire car, no scratches and made our way to the airport. As soon as we deal with our bags we head straight through to get processed. It is surprising how long this stage takes sometimes. At Edinburgh you had to remove coats, jackets, cardigans, shoes, belts etc. One day I am sure I will witness someone losing their trousers in the process. We both get through the scanner. Geoff's stuff goes through no sweat. My backpack flies through okay. Then I anxiously waited for the rest of my stuff to come through. After some considerable time It came down the reject shoot along with lots of the others baggage doing the same thing, who were waiting. In fact for a time everything seemed to come down the reject shoot. They were using their new automatic xray machine. Three people were full time checking all these bags. Luckily for me they just ran a scanner over my purse and it was fine. We felt safe getting on this plane. It was Jetstar. We arrived in Bristol and headed South. We had a spare night before our house swap in Burton, Summerset. We checked on line and found a b&b near Minehead, that was on a family farm. It was called Bourne stream, and was at Bilbrook, Minehead. A great place to stay. We could watch the beef yearlings in the field. We arrived taking the man of the house by surprise, his wife usually manages this side of their business. She arrived home shortly afterwards and arrived in for a chat and fruit cake. Her and her daughter had been shopping for a wedding dress. We were actually in a self contained unit. This place had a lovely garden. We then set off exploring and drove into Dunstar. It was a nice surprise when we realised we had visited here with our family when they were living in England a few years back. The give away was the distinctive Yarn Market Building, we had purchase from the bake shop and sat around here all that time back eating our lunch. An exciting moment. We decided we would return the next day to explore. We headed to Minehead for dinner. Minehead is one of those traditional traditional English seaside resorts. It certainly wasn't the busiest of sea side resorts. Probably not helped that it was quite windy. Lots of complaints about this English summer. Not a lot of sunny days apparently. The promenade has cafes, bars and amusement parlors. There is a good sized beach area. Apparently the sand is ideal for sand castle sculptures. There is also The West Summerset Railway. They have day trips on restored railway engines and carriages, visiting stations along the way. We ended up having fish and chips in the car and watching the people fishing. We were certainly getting the full moon when one kept bending over. They seemed to be getting their lines hooked up on the rocks. Back to our b&b for the night. On our table was a big spread already set out for our breakfast the next morning.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 13:32 Archived in England Tagged travelling Comments (0)

Royal Yacht Britannia, Edinburgh

Amazing to walk through this royal ship that had featured in news reports for years

all seasons in one day

After Holyroodhouse Palace we hopped back on the hop on hop off bus, luckily we didn't have to wait for long as it was raining. We then got off this where a blue hop on hop off bus would stop. From here we headed to the Ocean Terminal, Leith, to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia. First you have to manouver your way through a huge new shopping mall to get to the entrance. It has been well done you can use the lifts or stairs to get to the different levels in the ship. So after each floor you exit the ship to get to the next level. Her Magesty's Yacht Britannia is the former royal yacht of the British Monach, Queen Elizabeth II, in service from 1954 to 1997. She was the 83rd such vessel since the restoration of Kings Charles II in 1660. The Royal Yacht Britannia was named the UK's number 1 landmark by TripAdvisor. Britannia was designed to be converted into a hospital ship in time of war, although never used for this. In event of nuclear war it was intended that the Queen would take refuge Aboard Britannia along the northwest coast of Scotland. Britannia was decommissioned on 11th December 1997. There was controversy over the siting of Britannia. However, her positioning coincided with the redevelopment of the harbour area at Leith, Edinburgh. The Queen was reported to have wept at the decommissioning ceremony. She was happy on this ship spending time away from prying eyes holidaying with her family. There are many photos on the boat taken on these happy occasions. It was also used on her State Visits to many countries around the world. She would hold ceremonial occasions on board. I can remember when it came to New Zealand. First we had a snack in the cafe and some coffee. This is on the deck the Royals would have sunbathed relaxed and played games. It now is covered in. It takes quite some time to get all around this boat. We felt a bit like peeping Tom's peering into the royal bedrooms. Especially the bedroom used by Charles and Diana on their honeymoon. The bed was small. The bedrooms were small. The boat is not a bit extravagant. Apparently the Queen wanted it decorated like a country house so people would feel comfortable aboard. A lot of very famous people have been on board this ship. The Officers quarters and sailers quarters varied according to their rank. Not a lot of privacy or room for some. It sounds like they had lots of good times and they had their bars and lounges. Sometimes they would entertain the Queen or other Royals here. They had a pet wombat soft toy that ended up getting operated on!!! There was a hospital wing and operating room on board. You wouldn't have wanted to be operated on in here. The engine room was spotless. The laundry room was huge. There was even a shop on board. Apparently Diana would let William and Harry purchase sweets here from time to time. Reluctantly we had to leave. I would recommend a visit to The Royal Yacht Britannia. We were waiting for our hop on hop off bus when I spied another bus across the other side of the road so ran across and caught that instead to the central city. The afternoon had fined up no doubt a relief to those going to the Military Tattoo that night. We found dinner in a Turkish place. Just had another snack. I wasn't very hungry. Took our final walk around the city before returning to our Hotel at Leith by the Park. A great adventure was had in Edinburgh.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 15:00 Archived in Scotland Tagged yacht royal britannia Comments (0)

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