Last weekend Coughton Court was holding a Winter Festival which gives you an opportunity to see the house decorated for a traditional family Christmas and to visit festive market stalls set up in the stableyard. I persuaded D to go along with me on Friday to have a look round.
The house has been home to the Catholic Throckmorton family since 1409. The house is full of secrets and intrigue with connections to several dangerous plots. Francis Throckmorton, executed for acting as an Informer between the Spanish Ambassador and Mary Queen of Scots, was a cousin of Sir George Throckmorton, Lord of the Manor of Coughton. The house is also linked to the Gunpowder Plot as Sir Everard Digby, one of the Plotters, who supplied arms and horses for the plot, had rented Coughton Court from Thomas Throckmorton, who was away at the time, to use as a base for a Midlands uprising. The Tower Room is shut during the winter but it was possibly used for Mass during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries when attempts were made to stamp out Catholicism. It also contains a priest-hole where priests could hide from priest hunters. If you are ever in the area the house, gardens and churches are well worth a visit.
On arrival we made a beeline for the Kitchen Restaurant - well I had been Christmas shopping in Solihull all morning (highlight of that trip was the discovery that the wonderful Hawkins Bazaar Shop had returned to Touchwood Shopping Centre - the ideal shop to get a few stocking fillers).
I felt greatly revived after a cup of tea and a slice of coffee and walnut cake.
The restaurant had several Christmas decorations including this tree.
We had a look round some of the festive stalls selling items such as jewellery, cheese, pickles and chutneys, pies, vintage garden tools, candles, sweets, hats, Christmas decorations and hand decorated glass.
There were lots of Christmassy decorations around the Stableyard.
Two thirty arrived and it was our time to make our way to the house to see the Christmas decorations.
The house looked beautiful - although I've only included a few photos as I had the usual problems with dim light, no flash etc. etc. I did actually get as far as putting a monopod in the car boot with the thought that this might help steady the camera. But realising that, unlike my tripod, it doesn't have a swivel head and the fact that I would probably have constantly been moving the brackets up and down to adjust the height, I decided it just wasn't worth the effort.
The house looked beautiful but the highlight had to be the salon at the end of the tour which contained a large Christmas tree in one corner of the room and you could listen to a choir singing Christmas carols.
On my way out of the house I met the lovely gentleman in the photo below. I think he was probably a volunteer and when he could see I was having problems with the camera he insisted I include him in my photo as he thought his light coloured coat would give the camera something to focus on :) If he does ever visit this blog I would just like say thank you :)
I can never resist a second hand bookshop (or any bookshop for that matter!!) so we popped in to have a look round before we left.
I must revisit Coughton Court early next summer as there is a beautiful walled garden which I have never had time to look round on previous visits.