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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hidcote, Packwood and Baddesley Clinton



The vast majority of the time was spent visiting historic houses and gardens. Unfortunately one, Coughton Court, remains closed do to the recent flooding. Thus, the Throckmorton coat, the one that the tailor of Gloucester is supposed to have sewn will have to wait for another day.


Hidcote was first up. After a somewhat roundabout route as several roads were closed in Stratford, we made it. Hidcote is one of the great gardens of the world. First planted by the American Lawerence Johnson, it was the first garden to be planted in rooms.


Because of its fame, it can be crowded, but luckily as heavy rain was forecast, the garden was nearly deserted and the plants could actually been seen. In recent years, a restoration project has been undertaken and the garden rooms -- in particular the red border and Mrs Johnson's room look really invigorated and splendid. It is a visual treat for the eyes. The only problem with the garden is that members of the party kept getting lost and having to be found as the hedges and rooms provide a very good maze. We also managed to procure a eucomis -- a pineapple lily that is about to flower. We bought one at Sissinghurst several years ago but have kept potting it on and it has never flowered. They like to feel cramped apparently.


Having been before to the other great garden opposite Hidcote -- Kiftsgate. I can attest to the splendidness of that garden as well. But on this occasion, the timing was not right and it was closed.


Packwood House with its topiary of the Sermon on the Mount, its cottage garden on a grand scale and Carolean garden was very good. My husband was happy as he discovered two plants for sale that he had been searching for for ages. they have long and complex Latin names. The Angel's trumpet smells divine though -- a sort of talcum powder cum expensive soap smell. Packwood is mainly a 1920s - 1930s creation of Mr Baron Ash and his family. Baron was his first name. I do not know if he changed it by deed poll. He was an avid collector of Tudor furniture and textiles. One of his proudest moments was when Queen Mary came to visit. In the house they have a spinet. Spinets have black keys.


We then went down the road to Baddsley Clinton. Baddsley Clinton is one of the houses mentioned by the Jesuit John Gerard, the one where he explains how the entire company of Jesuits hid from priest hunters for four hours. They know about 3 priest holes, but there may be more. In front of one of the fireplaces, is said to be the blood stain of a priest killed by Nicolas Brome. There is also an early piano for about 1830. Pianos have white keys.


The house and the Ferrars family had its ups and downs with most of the furniture being sold off to Baron Ash, amongst others in the 1930s. Later several of the Ash family did help secure the house for the nation. It is a very popular house and entrance is by timed ticket. However, it exudes history.

1 comment:

Kate Hardy said...

Sounds like the perfect break. Haven't been to Baddesley since Chris was a tot (he took some of his first steps around there) but I loved the place. You'd really like Oxburgh. REALLY REALLY. (I'm tempting you to come further down the coast...)