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A day out at Croft Castle

Yesterday Hugh, a friend and former colleague, picked me up at home and took me to visit Croft Castle, which is about an hour’s drive away. It is a grand old building, but not the first built on the site. There have been Crofts living at Croft Castle since 1086, although not without interruption. The house is now owned by the National Trust, although there are two apartments in which various members of the family still live. A profligate son in the Eighteenth Century spent all the family money on an estate in Wales called Hafod, which was at the centre of the Picturesque movement, which meant that the house passed out of the family for a few generations to pay the debts he incurred.

The house wasn’t yet open when we arrived, so we wandered around the grounds for a while, then had a short introduction to the family while we saw a few rooms in the house. Then it was time for lunch.

After lunch we went back to the house to explore it properly. Just outside the front door was this remarkably camp looking lion, who accompanied a Wyvern on the other side of the door. The Wyvern looked much more macho, but was less photogenic for it, so you get to see just the lion.

Inside the house the rooms were furnished in a late Eighteenth century style, I think. (I’m no expert on these things, and I didn’t take notes.) One of the most interesting ideas the Trust had had was to close the shutters in a couple of the rooms, and light them only with (fake) candles, so that we could get an idea of just how dark a Victorian or Georgian evening in the Drawing room would have been. It was surprisingly dim, with just a few pools of light around the candle-lit areas. It must have been extremely difficult to see the cards, or read music or a book, but we’re told that that is exactly what people did. I got the distinct impression that the pools of light would have made a number of isolated islands of people, who could have conversed in some privacy, certainly much more privacy than you might have imagined in a single large room. I now understand how some of the conversations reported in Jane Austen, for example, could realistically have taken place.

A number of the rooms have beautifully decorated plasterwork ceilings, a product of  a reforming wife in the early Nineteenth century, I think. There were also lots of paintings of family members, which were used as props for the custodians to tell stories of the family. They were quite interesting at the time, but I’ve forgotten them all now, I’m afraid.

Outside the house there is a large walled garden, with fruit trees planted in a pair of crossing avenues. There were huge numbers of snowdrops planted under the trees, and the crocuses and daffodils were just beginning to come up. In one corner of the garden was a vineyard, looking very bare and heavily pruned at this time of year. There were also quite a few formal gardens. It was quite pretty, even at this early stage in the year, but later in the Spring, and in the Summer too, it will be absolutely wonderful. I may even go back again, just to see the garden.

I don’t have a picture, I’m afraid, but outside the main garden was a large blasted tree that had been painted pink. Not a subtle pink  either, a really vibrant bubblegum pink. A strange idea, but quite eye-catching. I wonder why they did it.

Hugh and I spent about four hours at the house and garden, so it was obviously quite absorbing. It was extremely kind of him to take me out for this excursion. I certainly enjoyed myself hugely. What a great friend! Thank you, Hugh.

{ 5 } Comments

  1. John | 20 March 2010 at 12:54 pm | Permalink


    I’m looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday. Perhaps we could use some of the time to arrange another trip out for you. If you have time to think on the subject, any ideas would be welcome. Please give Gillian my best wishes and remind her that she has not been forgotten.

    best wishes


  2. Hugh W | 20 March 2010 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Glad you enjoyed the day. I did too, it is good toi have company on this sort of trip

  3. icyjumbo | 21 March 2010 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    @John, that sounds good. I’ll put my mind to it.

    @Hugh, It certainly was good to have company on the trip. Thanks again.

  4. Jeanne | 24 March 2010 at 1:24 am | Permalink

    Chris–what a wonderful day trip!

    I had a similar one when I visited Germany last summer, and my host took me to see a castle:

    We went by car, so it wasn’t too tiring for me, and I had a fantastic time escaping into the past.


  5. icyjumbo | 24 March 2010 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Jeanne, your castle trip looked amazing. German castles can be fantastic, can’t they? As you can see from the photo, Croft Castle is really more of a large house than a true castle, but it was still a lot of fun.

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  1. […] Thursday Hugh took me to Croft Castle, which was a lot of fun. And today Gillian and I went to visit Little Malvern Court which was […]

  2. […] Thursday Hugh took me to Croft Castle, which was a lot of fun. And today Gillian and I went to visit Little Malvern Court which was […]