"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Hanbury Hall - Part 2: The House

As mentioned in the last post Hanbury Hall was built in the early 18th century by Thomas Vernon (1654-1721), a successful London lawyer, as his country retreat. Bowater Vernon (1683 - 1735) inherited the estate from Thomas and immediately set about the squandering the fortune he had been left.

I found the story of Emma Vernon (1755-1818) particularly interesting. She married Henry Cecil, heir to the 9th Earl of Exeter and they lived together at Hanbury but Emma fell in love with the local church curate - a William Sneyd. Unable to continue living a double life she confessed to her husband Henry and promised to give up Sneyd and be a faithful wife. However, when she went to say goodbye to William at a Birmingham coaching inn she gave Henry the slip, escaped out of a window and ran off with Sneyd to Portugal. She did eventually return to the Hanbury area following Sneyd's early death and later married a local lawyer. She finally moved back in the Hall after the death of her first husband Henry. Following Emma's escape to Portugal, Henry exiled himself to Shropshire where he lived as a gentleman farmer falling in love with and marrying a local farmer's daughter, Sarah Higgins. When Henry finally returned to his landed status she became known as the "Cottage Countess".

This photo of the Cupola is taken from the guide - it was another occasion when I could have done with the zoom on the Canon bridge camera!

Sorry for the quality of some of the photos - usual story of low light and low shutter speed!

Main Hall (Great Hall)

Drawing Room (Great Parlour)

Dining Room (Withdrawing Room) - this was my favourite room.

Sitting Room (My Lady's Parlour)

The Great Staircase - Sir James Thornhill's (1675/6-1734) paintings show the story of Achilles - a great hero of the Trojan War recorded in "The Iliad" by Homer. Other works by Thornhill include the Painted Hall at Greenwich Hospital and the Cupola of St Paul's Cathedral.

The Cedar Bedroom - this was the bedroom of Lady Georgina, wife to Sir Henry Vernon (the first baronet)

The Blue Bedroom - the worsted damask hanging around the bed dates from the 1730's.

The Hercules Bedroom with views of the Sunken Parterre

After looking round the Hall we sat in the Parterre for a while and

then went and had another cup of tea (it was very hot the day we visited). I managed to resist the scones!

Finally, a quick look round the shop and second hand bookshop (for once I didn't make a purchase!).

It will soon be conker collecting time.

The Eastern gazebo - the Moorish looking window was designed by R W Billings.

It was a lovely day out and I hope we can return perhaps in the Spring to explore the parkland and look for veteran oaks - remnants of the Feckenham Forest. The Parish Church of St Mary in Hanbury also looks well worth a visit - it is located on top of an Iron Age Hill Fort (Alfred Watkins (leylines) would be thrilled :)

The Strange Things You see on Motorways

On the outward journey the M42 was very congested :( so I amused myself spotting unusual items.

An interesting registration number!

The dreaded Active Traffic Management System was in use (I am sure this causes more problems than it is supposed to solve!) and just ahead is an unusual car wrapped up like a parcel

and here's a better view when we overtook it.

I've never seen anything like it before unless it is a brand new car being delivered somewhere - all protectively wrapped up?