"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

Sunday 21 July 2024

Kenilworth Castle


Last week D and I visited Kenilworth Castle.  B wanted a lift to and from the pub to meet friends for lunch and it was easier to spend a few hours at Kenilworth Castle which is close to the pub than drive all the way home and back again! The castle was busy and it appeared to be the week of school trips :( By 2.15 though after we had eaten lunch the grounds were much quieter.

The first castle at Kenilworth was  built in the 1120's by Geoffrey de Clinton (the Royal Chamberlain) who had been given the land by Henry I. He built the Great Tower (Norman Keep) and founded Kenilworth Priory.

In the early C13th King John added an outer circuit wall and built a dam to retain a large lake.  The castle was now strongly defended and withstood a siege in 1266.

John of Gaunt, son of Edward III, built the Great Hall and its apartments.

C15th Lancastrian kings visited to hunt and Henry V built a retreat at the end of the lake called "The Pleasance in the Marsh".

In 1563 Queen Elizabeth I gave the castle to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. He turned the castle into a palace fit to entertain her building apartments for her use and creating a privy garden for her.

After the Civil War fortifications were removed and in 1650 Leicester's Gatehouse was used as a residence by Colonel Hawkesworth, a Parliamentarian officer.

In 1958 Lord Kenilworth gave the castle to the people of Kenilworth and it has been managed by English Heritage since 1984.

Mortimer's Tower was built by King John around 1210 and it may have later acquired its name from Roger Mortimer, one of the Marcher Lords, who held a tournament at the castle in 1282.

The stables were built in Tudor times and today house a tearoom and a very interesting exhibition.

The Great Tower or Keep

Leicester's Building which contained the apartments built for Queen Elizabeth I on her visits.

Leicester's Gatehouse built in 1571/2 by Robert Dudley.

The Queen's Privy Garden was a private garden created for Elizabeth I by Robert Dudley in 1575.

The garden was recreated by English Heritage in 2009.  The design was based on a description by Robert Langham in the C16th who had somehow managed to sneak into the garden.  Archaeological surveys and historical research were also carried out and used to help plan the garden.

The fountain is the centre piece of the Elizabethan garden. The new fountain, like the original, is made of white Carrara marble from Tuscany, Italy.  The central column has two Athlants (Atlas figures) which support a sphere that discharges jets of water. The octagonal base has panels carved with scenes from the "Metamorphoses" - (Ovid's narrative poem).

The Aviary

Lunn's Tower

We had lunch sitting outside the Stables. Timothy enjoyed his cake :)

All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera. (I don't particularly rate my photos but if anyone wishes to use one of mine or my son's I would be grateful for an email first - thanks).

Reference : English Heritage Guidebook to Kenilworth Castle and English Heritage website pages.

Saturday 6 July 2024

June Trip to Herefordshire - Part 2: Stockton Bury Gardens


On the Saturday afternoon D and I decided to visit Stockton Bury Gardens as B was happy to stay at the site and garden.  The gardens are only 20 minutes away and fairly small if my ankle was playing up!  We've been several times before but it is a year since the last visit.

The C18th field barn by the entrance to the gardens is Grade II listed  and now houses the Tithe Barn cafe.

Stockton Bury is a four acre garden created over the last 35 years by the owner Raymond Treasure with help from 1984 by the gardener Gordon Fen who had been Head Gardener at Hereford Cathedral.  In 2015 Tamsin Westhope, a gardening magazine editor, arrived to help with the garden.

The gardens opened to the public in 1995 and are charming with lots of garden "rooms", many varieties of plant and hidden features.

The three bells at the end of barn are rung every hour.  There has always been a tradition of bell ringing at Stockton Bury and in the past they were rung at 6am to summon farm workers.  The large bell was recently cast by John Taylor Bell Foundry in Loughborough especially for the gardens.

The Elizabethan Garden

Common Spotted Orchid - there were many of these scattered throughout the gardens.

The Pool Garden

The Kitchen Garden has vegetable beds, fruit trees and a greenhouse on one side and herbaceous borders on the other side.

Fuschia in the greenhouse.

The Kitchen Garden leads into The Dingle which was created from an old quarry.

A lovely little meadow area full of Ox-Eye Daisies

Oontitump!  - oontitump is an old English word for molehills which I read about in a book by John Moore from memory!

Timothy by the pool in the Dingle

The door leads into The Grotto

Bog Garden and Stream

Leaving the Dingle we walked into the Secret Garden

The Pillar Garden

The Sunken Garden

The Spring Garden next to the house has bee skeps and a small summer house painted with panels of flowers (sorry couldn't get a photo of that as people were sitting in it!)

There are a couple of small museums - one contains garden tools and the other has some coins and other items found in a Roman Hoard near Stocktonbury

The Pigeon House Garden houses a medieval dovecote which has 51 opening holes and a revolving ladder and is Grade II listed.

Before leaving we had tea and cake!  We opted for the Lemon Polenta cake which we have had before and is delicious!

Hopefully we will return to Herefordshire soon although July seems full of blood test appointments, dental appointments, a boiler service and car service and MOT!  

All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera. (I don't particularly rate my photos but if anyone wishes to use one of mine or my son's I would be grateful for an email first - thanks)