I’ve been away a week and a half now so I figured a quick update was in order….
After a day spent at Cheshire Record Office sifting through reception orders for the Upton (Chester) asylum and a day at Staffordshire Record Office looking at grave plans and some parish records, I made my way to Birmingham and spent 3 days at the Who Do You Think You Are show (glutton for punishment or what?).
On Sunday I took a break from my immediate ancestors and drove south to Devizes, stopping on the way to look at Chedworth Roman Villa. Some of the icons in the museum were good; the last one in particular would have made a great design for a Nazca Line….
Continuing South, Monday saw me visiting Lacock Abbey. Here you can see the old cloisters that survived the Dissolution on the ground floor, the first floor having later been used as a family home. Its main claim to fame is as the home of William Henry Fox Talbot, who was one of the founders of photography (he and Daguerre working independently and each achieving a few “firsts”). Talbot took the first photographic negative in 1835, a picture of a window at Lacock Abbey. It may have been the first, but it won’t be in the running for the most exciting photo ever taken. To be fair, the exposure times were so ridiculously long that he can’t really have been expected to come up with anything more thrilling…. There’s a good museum in a separate building explaining the history of photography, and the Olde Worlde village of Lacock itself was also worth a mooch round. It was a lovely day, so a wander round the gardens was also in order before the 2 hour drive down to my next camp site at Corfe Castle.
Tuesday Dawned….. THE BIG DAY! I dropped Kampington off to have his “New Hat” fitted (300W of solar panels) and headed off in the courtesy car to have a look at Kingston Lacy, which was really impressive! Entrance to the house was by timed ticket / guided tour, which didn’t actually cover the whole house – so I’ll have to go back sometime when I’m passing and when it’s not tours only. The guide did a great job of explaining the history, some of the characters in the Bankes family, and some of the objects in each room. I lost count of the number of Old Masters hanging on the walls. The insurance premium on the place must be huuuuge! They’ve made a small museum below stairs to house some of the Egyptian artefacts collected by William John Bankes, apparently the largest private collection in the UK. The stuff isn’t just inside either – he brought back a great big obelisk for the garden while he was at it….
Forget Van Dyck, Rubens, Titian and Tintoretto, this is the painting that really grabbed my attention…. It’s of a family member called Jerome Bankes. Now is it just me or was this guy in one (or more – I’ve only seen the first two) of the Harry Potter films?
Kampington was ready by mid afternoon. In addition to the panels we now have a rather snazzy little battery monitor:
Today was another gloriously sunny day. I did some washing then set off on foot (not that I could’ve driven Kampington anywhere anyway as there was far too much washing hung up in the cab to dry!) to look at Corfe Castle. This was also owned by the Bankes family, but was bombarded (in the literal sense) in the Civil War. Kingston Lacy was built shortly after the Civil War, and does have on display what are purported to be the keys to Corfe Castle, handed over to Mrs Bankes after its defeat (not that the keys would’ve been much use at that point as there was very little left standing).
The adventure continues tomorrow, when I’ll be heading West towards my next overnight stop at Plymouth Sound……