Continuing West into Cornwall, my first stop was the Roseland Peninsula, which I thought I’d take a look at as I hadn’t been there before. St Mawes was extremely pretty, though one of those Cornish seaside villages where you suspect that every cottage is now a holiday home and that no-one actually lives there any more….
My next few days were spent on the ancestor trail, both at the Cornwall Record Office in Truro and out and about in Portreath and the area around Hayle and Lelant. A spark of inspiration in Portreath caused me to take a series of photos from one end of the former River Row to the other, thinking that even though the name of the terrace has been changed and all of the houses have acquired “holiday cottagy” names rather than numbers, given that the whole terrace is certainy pre-1911 and that there’s a fixed point at one end (the pub) / you can only built onto the end of a terrace, I could probably work back through the censuses to identify the exact house my ancestors lived in. We shall see… Luckily I managed not to get arrested taking all the photos!!
I did manage to fit in my usual “mining fix”, this time at Wheal Coates near St Agnes (the St Agnes Museum was another top notch visit).
Sadly, I then had to start heading homeward as I had said I would be back and ready for decorating duties by the end of April. I squeezed in a few more Savings along the way. First stop was Trerice, a 16th century house in Cornwall that was owned by the Arundell family and later the Aclands of Killerton (which I’d visited earlier in the trip). It was empty when it was acquired by the National Trust in the 1950s, so the main interest is the building itself rather than any contents.
Lanhydrock is one of the National Trust’s “big draws” and the size of the coach park (to which Kampingtons were directed) was certainly very impressive! I found the house disappointing. It was owned by the Agar-Robartes family (who also owned the marvellous Wimpole Estate for a time in the early 1900s) and was rebuilt following a fire in 1881; the Agar-Robartes clearly weren’t short of a bob or two at the time (there are FIFTY rooms open to the public in the house) so I was therefore expecting a display of Victorian magnificence. How wrong I was – the interior is very very bland. I think the most damning point was that as I walked back to Kampington I realised that there wasn’t a single item in the place (either fixtures or furnishings) that I would willingly have brought back and put in my Victorian house of the same decade…..
Croome in Worcestershire was Capability Brown’s first commission. The house isn’t interesting; it was acquired empty by the National Trust after seemingly having seen all possible uses since World War 1. It’s still in the process of being refurbished, so only a few empty rooms on the ground floor were open, there’s a pervasive smell of gloss paint, and they’d brought in a “modern art” exhibition just to make things even more dire….
I really did like the “greenhouse”, and the rest of the parkland was quite pretty (though nowhere near Stourhead standards). Pity about the obligatory dodgy grotto by the lake though!
The most interesting thing at Croome was the RAF museum by the entrance. RAF Defford was constructed here during WW2 and was instrumental in the development of radar. The first fully automatic landing of an aircraft was at RAF Defford in January 1945 (I bet the pilot’s hands were twitching by the controls!).
Hanbury Hall, also in Worcestershire, was built in 1710 as a country house for Thomas Vernon, a successful London lawyer. The main draw is the staircase (sorry no pics) which was painted (walls and ceiling) to show the story of Achilles by Sir James Thornhill, who also painted the inside of the dome at St Pauls, the ceiling of the Great Hall at Blenheim, the “painted hall” at Greenwich Hospital and the chapel at Wimpole.
Finally I managed to squeeze in Wightwick Manor in Wolverhampton, another Victorian property, this one built for a family of Wolverhampton paint manufacturers (the Manders). It was built in 1887 and given to the National Trust in 1937 by the son of the couple who built it, having tried and failed to sell the place. I’m not really surprised; it’s very odd. Theodore Mander (the father who had it built) was into all things medieval, so there’s a hall with a minstrel’s gallery etc. Then again, there’s William Morris wallpaper everywhere…. A very odd combination….
From here I fitted in two nights at Chester (having to stay on the Caravan Club site and get the bus in as someone had gone and built a fairground on Little Roodee – how dare they?!) so as to spend a full day at the Record Office before returning home to the decorating mission…. Three and a half weeks to the next trip….