Lynford Hall, Norfolk

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Many stately homes in England are preserved by the National Trust, others (in shockingly high numbers) are converted to nursing and care homes.   Some, however, have been converted to hotels, and Lynford Hall in Munford, Norfolk is one of these.

It is constructed in the neo-Jacobean, and  was built in the mid-Nineteenth Century, by the “richest commoner” in England.  It is a beautiful estate, and it still maintains some of its Victorian grandeur.

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Clock Tower

In the first half of the Twentieth Century visitors included the then US Ambassador, Joseph Kennedy, and the writer Ernest Hemingway.  During the Second World War, the hall was requisitioned by the government and converted into a hospital.  After the war the property was acquired by the Forestry Commission, and later sold to become the present private hotel.

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Bar

During the late 1960s to early 90s, the hall featured in the sitcoms ‘Allo ‘Allo and Dad’s Army with various parts of the property being used as the French village, the chateau used as German Headquarters, and various other venues.

Today, the hall is largely used as a weddings venue, and had some lovely grounds.  The hotel also provides function and conference rooms for business meetings. The Wellingtonia Bar also does some good trade.

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View from Bar

We have visited on a few of occasions and found the restaurant a bit hit and miss.  There have been times when staff seemed short, and orders have taken a long time to be filled.  On other occasions both drinks and food have been well prepared.

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Churchill Portrait in Dining Room

The grounds are well worth visiting, and for those into the period sitcoms, the site also finishes off the Dad’s Army Trail.

Padre

Lynford Hall Site

Rushton Lodge

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Rushton Hall

Architecture isn’t normally seen as a form of protest, but Rushton Lodge is exactly that.  In particular it is a spiritual protest against anti-Catholic ordinances in Early Modern England, and expression of Catholic orthodoxy.

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Trinity Window

The building is triangular in its design. It was built by Sir Thomas Tresham, the father of one of the Gunpowder Plotters.  He had it built from 1593 to 1597. It is a symbolic expression of a belief of the Holy Trinity.  The number three is therefore represented throughout.  It has three floors, and three triangular gables on each side. The entire structure is three sided as well with each wall measuring 33 feet, with three triangular and trefoil windows on each wall. The front entrance bears the slogan “Tres Testimonium Dant” [“There are three that give witness”] which is drawn from I John 5:7.

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Cross Window

While Wikipedia notes the Lodge as a folly, it is far from it.  It is, in fact, a great statement of the faith of its builder.

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Triangle Detail

It is a truly fascinating place to visit, and the more you explore, the more symbols you can discover. There is a small English Heritage reception and shop on site, and there are some snacks available in the shop, and space for picnics on the grounds. Parking is a bit of an issue, and there is no car park, but only a narrow lay by on the street opposite the site.

Padre

 

English Heritage Link

 

 

Lavenham: Olde England

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Lavenham

I have done several posts on period villages and towns (Kersey, Stratford, Castle Comb) and many have wonderful timber frame buildings which give a sense of the nation’s past. Constable Country (Suffolk, and Essex border area) have a large number of these settlements, but one of the best preserved is Lavenham.

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Guildhall

The Guildhall at the centre of the town is a national Trust property.  It is large for the type of building and is really impressive as it commands the market square.  The Guildhall is well worth seeing, and like most National Trust houses has a nice tea room and is great to just chill and take in the history.

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Tea Room

 

The market is (apart from the paved road and auto traffic) really easy to picture the past at. There are several buildings which cry out character, and the owners so a superb job in their upkeep and presentation.

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House on Market Square

The town (unlike many of its type) is not limited to just the central preservation area. The Swan Hotel is an excellent example of a late Medieval inn and well worth exploring in its own right.

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The Swan

It is easy to imagine the Mother Goose rhyme, “There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile, He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile; He bought a crooked cat which caught a crooked mouse, And they all lived together in a little crooked house,” as you explore the streets and lanes of Lavenham as well.

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Crooked House

Such fabulous architecture has not been overlooked by popular culture.  The Godrick’s Hollow of the Harry Potter films found some of its location shots in Lavenham.  In fact Harry’s home in infancy was filmed using the town’s de Vere House.

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“The Hallow”

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de Vere House

There is much to take-in in this picturesque town. There are tea rooms, cafes, and at least two large period inns. The parish church is also well in keeping with this time capsule of England’s past.

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The Little Hall

Padre

Morocco: Windows, Doors, and Arches

 

 

I am not a great artist, yet I do appreciate things of beauty.  Whether it be natural landscapes, or thoughtful and creative examples of human expression.  There are many wonderful examples of both in Europe, but in style and “exotic” quality, I really found Morocco had a lot to offer.

In today’s travel post, I am going to focus on some of the under appreciated aspects, many going unnoticed in European architecture: the doors and windows. Many of these that I saw in Marrakech were not the standard rectangular parallel posts and lintel construction, but ones that incorporated screening, rounded and peaked arches, and decorative paneling.

 

 

In the labyrinth of narrow allies and passageways in the old city, I was able to use the distinctive features of these designs to navigate along the almost uniformly pink walls. Some of these were augmented by spectacular tile-work, but most were purely identifiable by the patterned screens and arches.

The windows, as well as the doors, offered amazing diversity, and enhanced the arabesque feel of the experience.  Some of these has woven and carved screens, and others various patterns of coloured glass.

 

 

In the close allies and in the courtyards of riads and restaurants there we wonderfully crafted archways, whether as passage entries, or as features of fountains and even as “bathroom” fittings.

These artist expressions are not only beautiful, but practical aspects of the architecture, serving as landmarks and in some cases I am told in regulating the circulation of air to moderate the temperature of the areas.  For me though, they made for a culturally rich North African experience.  [They also make for some great travel photos].

I will blog on the wonderful Moroccan tiles in a future post.

Padre

Ightham Mote

Moat

The Mote’s Moat

We recently had the opportunity to visit The National Trust’s Ightham Mote.  This is a splendid moated Medieval manor house, and surrounding estate.

England is a country full of “time capsules.” As a general reflection, the architecture of many communities reflects their point of greatest prosperity.  Be it the late-Medieval villages of Constable Country many built at the height of the wool-trade; the Dutch-styled buildings of Norwich marking the revitalization of the town by “The Strangers;” or the Georgian grandeur of Bath, all mark a point when the old was swept away and “new” was constructed in accordance with their status.

Ightham is no different.  Here we have a modest gentry dwelling, upgraded to show its owners entry “into court.”  Fortunately for us who enjoy this historical moment, the subsequent owners had modest aspirations, leaving us with “the most complete Medieval manor house” in England.  This does not mean the house has no changes.  Plumbing and electricity have been introduced, and minor upgrades made.  For instance the central courtyard has an Eighteenth Century clock on its bell tower.

Many features remain the same, however. The moat is fed by small streams, some of which are rain runoff from the surrounding hills, and others seem spring fed. The main complex has thick stone foundations mounted with timber framed construction.

Some quirky bits include that the Mote has a Grade One listed dog house.  This was a Nineteenth or early Twentieth Century addition to house to accommodate the owner’s St Bernard. It was constructed in the style of the manor house and fits right in.

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Dog House

The manor house also has an impressive gate house and more modern art punctuates the grounds and gardens.

 

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Gate House

The chapels and great hall are not to be missed either.  Their is a range of artifacts, and period art to be discovered and admired.

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Hall (note armour, and elaborate wood and stonework features)

The house is not as grand as many, in fact several areas of the house surrounding the courtyard are relatively narrow.  This said, size doesn’t matter when you have grand fireplaces, two chapels (with impressive stained glass), and a library, all in a convenient package.

There are also nice gardens with small fountain ponds, a flower garden, and period outbuildings. Being National Trust there is a shop next to the Mote, and there is mobility transport from the reception area down to the shop and Mote.

The staff and guides are courteous and knowledgeable, and provide a wealth of information. This is one of the nicer Trust properties we have visited. One of the only down sides is that it is fairly remote, and it is not wonderfully signposted from some approaches.

Padre