"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

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Maxstoke Castle, Emperor Moth caterpillar update, A Spitfire flypast and a Ringlet

We went along to Maxstoke Castle last weekend - there is just the one Open Day a year. The weather wasn't very good - it rained on and off throughout the visit - any smudgy marks on the photos are a result of raindrops on the lens!!

Maxstoke Castle is a fortified manor house or castle built around 1345 by Sir William de Clinton, Earl of Huntingdon - who also built the nearby Maxstoke Prior. One hundred years later the castle was partially re-modelled by the Earl of Stafford. At the end of the sixteenth century it became the property of Sir Thomas Dilke and, apart from short periods of time, the castle has remained in the hands of the Dilke (later Fetherston-Dilke) family who still live there today.

The castle is made of red sandstone and today there remains a restored medieval gatehouse, curtain wall and angle towers.

Richard III visited the castle in 1485 on his way north to Nottingham and subsquently on to his death at the Battle of Bosworth.

The Courtyard Garden

We had a look round the inside of the house (no photos allowed) but you can tour the Banqueting Hall, the Oak Drawing Room (with its rather mysterious and ornately carved Whispering Door) and the Library.

We then walked around the outside of the house following the moat walk - roses were clambering all over the walls.

Valerian and Ivy-leaved Toadflax had managed to grow in cracks between the building stones.

At this stage we visited the refreshment tent where last year we had the most delicious cake - but horrors of horrors they had sold out!!! If we go next year we'll go a lot earlier!!

So onwards to the pleasure gardens

There is a lovely meadow and woodland walk with lots of wildflowers flourishing.

Ox-eye Daisies

Is this a Handkerchief Tree?

Views of the castle and moat

Ice House

Glade of Foxgloves

A vegetable garden, tennis court and more herbaceous borders were our last port of call.

Anyone for tennis?

Close by was this wonderful "white" border - could just imagine relaxing here with a Pimms after a game of tennis!!

Herbaceous Border

Astrantia again - just love this plant. I managed to buy one from Coughton Court but they only had the dark pink variety available and I must admit I do like this creamy white/pinky colour.

The Emperor Moth caterpillars are now 5 weeks old and requiring about 5 top-ups of bramble/hawthorn leaves a day. In fact, I have come to the conclusion they never stop munching not even to sleep. I have to admit I will be a little relieved when they pupate which could be any day now. Note their nice new cage!!! Although really there are that many of them I should have bought two!

Last night we went along to Birmingham International Airport as a Spitfire which had been displaying at the nearby Belfry Hotel and Golf course was due to make a brief flypast.

We went a walk along a public footpath near a place called Castle Hills (not far from the Shadowbrook Meadows reserve I visited recently) where you can get a good view of the runway.

The spitfire was due to fly along the runway in a north to south direction i.e. towards us but lo and behold it flew from south to north and I just managed to get this record shot - not helped by shooting into the sun!!!

And here it is again disappearing rapidly from view.

Just as we were leaving I spotted my first Ringlet butterfly of the year in a hedgerow.


Anonymous said...

The castle is fabulous. Lovely gardens too. Those pillars are really pretty and I'm yet to see a Ringlet- have been keeping an eye out. Stacks of meadow browns here and the fritillaries are starting to appear- looking good for flutters so far this year.

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Thank you. Saw lots more Ringlets when out this afternoon but no Meadow Browns yet. I have to travel to see fritillaries :( Wyre Forest from memory is good.

Amanda Peters said...

Another lovely place, the flowers and Castle look beautiful , I need to get round to visiting some places like this. I work next to Leeds/Bradford Airport and get to see many special planes comming and going, we are at the "posh end" so also get the Royals and stars. Still get existed after all this time.
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

amanda peters - Thanks so much :) Trouble is finding the time :( So many places I want to visit!

Yes, I get excited over planes too - we went to see the Red Arrows once when children little - what an experience :) And I still remember every visit Concorde made to Birmingham Airport. So miss that plane :(

Rohrerbot said...

I love the old blue plane flying. It looks so odd in the sky....a piece of history and art. I miss all the colorful flowers in the garden. Our desert is quite beautiful BUT I have to say that I miss the color splash of the garden elsewhere around the world. Amazing wild flowers, roses, etc etc. While we were in Maine, I wanted to run through the fields of wildflowers but noticed lots of nesting birds. It's so hard knowing all of this because the inner kid wants to run through the flowers. Castles, flowers, ghost cities....beautiful. I love that you love bugs.

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Thanks so much Chris for your really lovely comment. The plane sighting was just an amazing piece of history and very special :)

I love your desert but yes I would miss our gardens so much. Luckily wildflowers etc., in gardens here probably wouldn't have nests but not easy to run through when on someone else's land :( I make do with our mini wildflower meadow in the garden :)