Holker Hall


For our last full day in Cartmel we decided to visit Holker Hall, the local stateley home. We’d had a long day the day before so had a little lie in and so only set out after 11 o’clock. We could have driven to the Hall but it was another fine day and it was only a couple of miles away so we decided to go on foot – a little less carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere!


The building dates from the 16th century, and so originally Jacobean in style, but there have been substantial alterations and additions over the years, especially during the 18th and 19th centuries. There was a major fire in 1871 which destroyed the west wing and most of it’s contents, in 1871. It was rebuilt in an “Jacobean revival” style.

The land on which the house stands was originally owned by Cartmel Priory but following the dissolution of the monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII it was bought by the Preston family, who were local landowners. Through marriage the estate passed to the Lowther family and then to the Cavendish, the same family as the Dukes of Devonshire. Today the older part of the house is occupied by Lucy Carrington, the daughter of Lord Cavendish, the Tory peer.Like Chatsworth, the home of their relatives, the rest of the house and most of the grounds are open to the public – for a fee, of course!

We started by exploring the house. The west wing, although still used by the family, is open to the public. Lucy Cavendish lives in the older part of the house which is “out of bounds”.

This is the Library on the ground floor – a large display of books being de-rigueur for all grand houses. I wonder how many were actually read? I bet many f them were just on display to show how cultured the owners were!


One particularly fascinating exhibit here, for me, were the microscope that had been owned and used by the brilliant, but eccentric, scientist, Henry Cavendish (I’m sure he was on the autistic spectrum). Couldn’t avoid reflections, unfortunately.


The Drawing Room


The dining room – the painting over the fireplace is a self portrait by Van Dyke


The main staircase. All the carvings in the rebuilt wing were created by local craftsmen.


Upstairs – the Long Gallery, a recreation of a typical feature of grand Elizabethan and Jacobean houses


The Wedgewood Bedroom


Named after the collection of blue and white Wedgwood Jasper ware in the Dressing Room.


One of the grand bedrooms


“Queen Mary’s bedroom” – where the wife of King George VI stayed when she visited in 1937


Then we explored the gardens. They are very extensive – 23 acres with a series of formal gardens set within a more informal landscape and woodland – and we really didn’t have enough time to see everything. But on a sunny Spring day, with flowers and blossom coming into bloom, we enjoyed wandering around.


We stayed almost to closing time and then headed back towards Cartmel through the pleasant countryside, with a good view towards Hampsfell


Mount Stewart Gardens


The gardens at Mount Stewart are exceptional. So good that they’ve been included on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage tentative list.

The design is largely the work of 7th Marchioness Edith, Lady Londonderry (although I’m sure she had plenty of help!) The National Trust have some good information on the planning and design of the garden which can be downloaded here.

Here’s a few photos

The Italian Garden

The Spanish Garden


The Shamrock Garden

The Sunken Garden


The Informal Gardens

The Chatsworth Luminaire


It was pouring down with rain as we set off for Derbyshire last Saturday. The weather forecast, though, promised that the rain would clear during the day and we were banking on that as we had tickets for the Luminaire show at Chatsworth that evening which was partly located in the grounds of the Stately Home. Luckily the BBC weather forecasters got it right. By the evening the skies had cleared for a cloudless, chilly evening.

The Luminaire took place over four evenings. Visitors promenaded through the house and gardens along a set trail to witness a series of lighting effects, video projections and music.  The spectacle was inspired by a selection of drawings of Oberon, the Fairy Prince by the architect, Inigo Jones, created in the early 1600s, which were part of his designs for costumes, sets and stage effects for the ‘Masque of Oberon, the Faery Prince’ a play by Ben Johnson.

The event started at 7 o’clock, as night drew in. We had tickets for the house tour at 8 so decided to explore the grounds first. Various lighting effects were employed.

There were projections of animated images on the side of the house and some other buildings






The Emperor Fountain was lit up


Statues and sculptures were illuminated by spotlights




Candles were floated on the round pond


The Cascade was illuminated


Then inside the house where candles and subtle lighting were used to create an atmosphere that must have been similar to that experienced by the extremely wealthy residents and visitors in the house before the age of the electric light.




















Of course, these photographs can’t do justice to the experience.

Goddard’s House and Gardens


First stop during our recent short break in York was the National Trust property next to York Racecourse and just down the road from the B and B were we were staying.

“Goddard’s” is an Arts and Crafts style house designed by the architect Walter Brierley ("the Yorkshire Lutyens") was originally the family home of Noel Goddard Terry, of the chocolate-making firm, Terry’s of York. Although purchased by the Trust in 1984  it’s been used as their regional offices, but a limited number of rooms were opened to the public earlier this year. The gardens, however, have been open to visitors since 2006.

There’s only a small car park at the property which probably means there could be difficulty parking at weekends and other busy times. Luckily we visited on a rainy day in early October before the half term holidays so there was no problem finding a space.

I think that the V&A website sums up Arts and Crafts architecture pretty well

(a) ……..defining feature of Arts and Crafts architecture was an interest in the vernacular. Architects used local materials and traditional styles to create something that would not jar with its surroundings, but at the same time distinctive and modern. Many hoped to revive traditional building and craft skills, or to design buildings that looked as if they had grown over many years.

That’s certainly true of Goddard’s. The house is constructed in red brick in a sort of “mock Tudor” style, particularly with it’s tall chimneys.


Hand made bricks were used laid using the traditional “English Bond” , with alternate courses of stretchers and headers.


The front entrance is in a projecting bay with a Gothic style doorway and first floor bay window. Personally I didn’t think this worked; it jarred with the overall look of the house.



Moving inside, although most of the building is still used as offices for the Trust, a number of the rooms have been opened up and furnished to reflect the 1930s style of the prosperous York family. This isn’t how they would have originally looked. The owner was a fan of Georgian style furniture. Today the original furnishings are owned by York Civic trust and are now used to furnish Fairfax House in the city centre. Other rooms house exhibitions providing context about life in York between the wars.

I particularly liked the carved wood panels and staircase. Alas, I didn’t take any photographs inside (not sure whether they were allowed but the corridors were quite dark and I’m not certain photos taken using my basic compact camera would have come out well). I did take plenty of photos of the outside and the four acres of gardens, designed by George Dillistone.


The garden was actually broken up into a series of smaller areas, separated by hedges. So it was bigger than it first appeared. Originally there was a bowling green and tennis courts. Today these are lawned areas.




I guess we wouldn’t have seen the garden at it’s best – our visit took place after the glories of summer but before the colours of autumn appeared. Nevertheless there was still colourful plants in bloom.


Exploring, we almost stumbled on semi-hidden paths


one which led to a pleasant water garden with a definite Japanese influence – Japanese gardens were fashionable at the time.



There was an exhibition of metal animal sculptures by Andrew Kay in the grounds. A couple of the exhibits can be seen in the photos above. But I think they deserve their own post.