Firstly Can I say just what a stunning place Wiltshire is. Driving from West Berkshire to Wiltshire is just a pleasure. It’s fairly pretty and country-ish here in West Berks but Wilshire is a knockout. It gets prettier and prettier each mile, rolling hills, trees and flowers. Then of course there are the awesome historical features such as the tumuli and hill forts. I like to just drift off in my head and imagine how these people lived and what they were like. Being someone who works with yarn a lot, I know that everything I have learnt over the years comes from the women who would’ve lived in places like this. Knitting and crochet are ancient skills and I can’t help but imagine what these women would’ve been like with their sheep and goats providing yarn for their clothes..anyway, back to Wiltshire..
Avebury manor was first introduced to me on a show called ‘The Manor Reborn’ which was shown on the BBC a few months back. I loved it. I love the tale of a run-down Tudor building about to be made good by a group of people who wanted it to be a National Trust house you can actually experience. Now, I LOVE National Trust houses. National Trust, I love you BUUUUTTTT
AND this is a BIG BUT…
I HATE that you are so un-willing to open your minds to your houses being an experience rather than uptight museums.
I understand how much work goes into making these houses stay exactly right, I understand the value of the artefacts in the houses and challenge is must be to keep them maintained to a certain standard but there is NOTHING more annoying than an uptight National Trust Volunteer tutting and telling you off as you brush NEAR a pot in a kitchen or a bed spread in a room!!!!
ARHGOEKIRHJGJDLFKNGFKL I KNOW!!!!
I KNOW it is worth a lot, I KNOW not to sit on the chair! I wasn’t going to!! I was just walking past FFS!
Lanhydrock House in Cornwall is the best example of strict National Trust staff; I have almost been made to commit murder in the kitchen of that house because of the tutting and constant warnings of the staff…I am an adult, I want to visit and treat the houses with respect, I know not to touch or break or be a shit. Please leave me alone. Mostly they are great but I am SERIOUSLY put off by them a lot of the time and it stops me from re-visiting.So when The Manor Reborn came out I was excited about the fact that it was an historical building that you could actually experience..without tutting!!
So as I was saying, the drive over was just lavish with detail and sunshine and lovely joyful joy.
In reality there is a duck pond, a row of little cottages over-looking the pond and to the right some rather handsome barns with museums bits in them, a stone cottage which is a coffee shop filled to the brim with millionaire shortbread and cake. Right in front there are wooden picnic benches and a dove cote. It is just divine, then, just past the dovecote is an old stables turned into another museum and then, finally…the house. My heart just jumped out of my chest when I saw it, It is my dream house, my LOTTERY win house..arrrgh. LOVE!!!
The museum is interactive and very informative. Loads of fun things for the kids to do, and plenty for the adults too.After the museum trip (O didn’t want to leave) we went over to the picnic benches and sat and ate some lovely sandwiches and kettle chips (our favourite naughty treat on picnics) before heading over to the dovecote to meet our guide for the day.
The dovecote is where you meet your NICE and HAPPY National Trust guide. It was our lady’s first day and she was great. She told us all about the house and then led us on our way down the lavender-lined walk to the front door where she left us to adventure on.
Inside we walked into a STUNNING 1930s room. It was my dream room, my favourite era and it was exactly like stepping back in time. On the radio Winston Churchill was telling us about the outbreak of war and L and I sat down on a sofa and just listened to his words. It was very atmospheric in that room and I felt compelled to pour a glass of malt whiskey and mull over a paper..even though I hate whiskey and the marks a paper leaves on your fingers. I felt at home. It was a very strange feeling. The Kids played in the room, Baby F found a stuffed teddy and his big brother, O was playing with the desk items, such as binoculars and an old film-camera.
(isn't it yummy?)
From there we walked into a room with hand-painted wallpaper. I was painted in china in a traditional style. The room was beautiful but didn’t blow me away as much as the 30s room. It had a bit of an empty feeling and wasn’t registering much on my wow-radar.
On from there was the billiards room, a stunning example of a Gentleman’s favourite room, covered in taxidermy and photos of manly pursuits. It was a fabulous room. O and L played snooker and talked to some other people about how gorgeous the table was – it was a wonderful room. From under a chair somewhere came the sound of a purring cat, just homely.
Going back on ourselves we finally came to some stairs which we climbed and at the top the atmosphere began to change. I am not sure what it is with these old houses but I can FEEL the age of them. Upstairs it is very different. The guide told us the BBC had started to run out of money and although they had done a splendid job there was a noticeable difference in atmosphere, upstairs it felt like bare-bones of what the house REALLY was. I much preferred this.
We walked in to an odd little room which I feel was probably once a different space. It had very wobbly bendy old floors and a cupboard/priest hole area..that was it. We sat on the window seat and I felt very much like the wind had been knocked out of me. On from there we looked at the bedrooms, admired the bedding, the work that had gone in to it and the stunning work of the beds..the beds were old in places but also a very talented person had added to them to make them look older. Quite amazing.
(Here is Baby F rolling about in fits of giggles on the bed..he is really having the best time ever!)
The second of the bedrooms was incredible, a Queen Anne room, the boys took off their shoes and climbed on the bed and lay for ages talking to the guide about the era, the bedding, the views. Who had lived there, etc. O is never up for these places, he is ten, he hates history. He is always so bored, but not in this place. He LOVED it. Then suddenly, he jumped off the bed, put his shoes back on and vanished into the little room next door.
The little room has a secret door into the changing room next to it; O found this too much fun and wanted to show me. I went with him and had the strangest experience. I found myself having a sort-of Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe experience, I felt like I had walked into another world. The air in this room was still, stuffy even. It felt oppressive and unhappy and I didn’t like it. It was (without me noticing) the only room I forgot to photograph. I hated it. As I walked on through to the room next to it, the yellow room a great sadness and heavy feeling came over me. I said out loud to L ‘god, the feeling in this room is totally different to everywhere else in the house’ and as I did the tour guide, a nice man on a chair who I hadn’t even noticed until then said ‘it’s funny, you are the second person to say that today’ It gave me chills. I walked over and stood by the window and stared out at a gate in the garden. I felt like I was waiting for someone to come through it, felt sad and awful really. I asked L if he was ready to go and then the tour guide asked how I felt..I told him and he told me that a lady who had lived in the house was so depressed that her love died that she threw herself out of the exact window I was stood at. He also said that the man who had once owned the house had committed suicide in that room and was often seen stood exactly where L was stood. It was about enough for me and I walked out and went to sit back downstairs for a while.
The boys carried on with snooker as I de-spooked myself and then we went on to the kitchen which was FAB!!! I took loads of photos and by the time I had finished it was the end of their day and we had to go.
Such a magical place.
We popped over to the cottage for hot chocolate and millionaire shortbread and all shared our stories of what we liked best and if we wanted to go back another day. We all decided we did and nobody had a bad word to say, even Baby F who was snoring along with great fury!
After we left Avebury manor we took a quick turn around the gardens before heading to the stones..the boys were flagging a bit now and so we decided to just walk up one row and then back then head to the car. It is just incredible. There are no words to describe them, their height, and their overall impression. It’s just crazy!
So after a rather long and wafty story about Avebury Manor I must say it is worth the visit. It has ghosts and spooky feelings for those who like that sort of thing. It has cool design and beautiful features. It has the views, the gardens, the handmade craft items. It is just educational, beautiful, fun and the guides are just awesome, all friendly and fun and helpful. Willing to give out loads of info and don’t mind you freaking them out by being upset by a room for no reason! Haha. The entry price is reasonable and the coffee shop is DEFINITELY worth a look in. Gorgeous food, seating and views. It’s wonderful. Also, if you are disabled there are toilets within easy reach and if you cannot get up the stairs to see the rooms they have built a room just for you so you can watch videos and have talks about them. It’s just wonderful. Please go, enjoy the stones and the museum and the duck pond and keep your eyes peeled for a handsome Mr Darcy type - it’s said that the sad young lady ghost lost her fella who wore a beard, she finds men in the ground who have beards, spins them around to see if they are her man, and when they are not..she just vanishes. Perhaps you will find him for her.