A year full of heritage

Steph and I have been members of the National Trust since 2011. Following our first visit to one of the Trust’s properties in February that year (to Hanbury Hall, just 7 miles from home), we have tried each year to get out and about as often as we can. After 5 years membership, we were offered a special senior citizen joint membership: such great value for money; so many interesting houses, landscapes, and gardens to visit, and enjoy a cup of coffee (and an occasional flapjack) in one of the NT cafes.

These visits give purpose to our excursions. We’ve now explored 97 National Trust properties in England and Northern Ireland (as well as as few maintained by the National Trust for Scotland). And we have enjoyed many country walks as well around parkland and through gardens.

Click on the various links to open stories I have posted during the year, or an album of photos.

We are fortunate that close to us (we’re just south of Birmingham in northeast Worcestershire) there are half a dozen properties that take 30 minutes or less to reach. The closest is Hanbury Hall, and we often visit there to enjoy a walk around the park – four times this year – or take one of the many paths to the canal, up to Hanbury church, and back into the park. I particularly enjoy seeing how the parterre changes through the seasons. It is a very fine example.

The parterre at Hanbury in August

The other houses close to home are Charlecote Park ( in July), Croome (August), Packwood House (August), Baddesley Clinton (October), and Coughton Court (April and November).

Coughton Court in April

Our National Trust year began in February with a return visit to Newark Park, 58 miles south in Gloucestershire, to see the carpets of snowdrops, for which the garden is famous. We first visited the house in August 2015.

A week later we traveled 20 miles southwest from home to the birthplace of one of England’s greatest composers, Sir Edward Elgar. It was a sparkling day. We even managed a picnic! After visiting the house, The Firs, and the visitor center, we took the circular walk from the site that lasted about 1 hour. I found watching a short video about Elgar’s life to the accompaniment of Nimrod quite emotional.

Then a week later, we decided on a walk in the Wyre Forest, about 17 miles west from Bromsgrove, to find Knowles Mill, a derelict flour mill in the heart of the forest.

April saw us take in three properties (besides Coughton Court): Dudmaston (which we first visited in 2013); Kinwarton Dovecote; and Southwell Workhouse (a fascinating visit).

In May, I had to obtain an international driving permit, and the closest post office was in the center of Birmingham. That was just the excuse we needed to book a tour of the Back-to-Backs on the corner of Inge and Hurst Streets. What an eye-opener, and one NT property that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Closer to home, in fact less than 4 miles from home, is Rosedene, a Chartist cottage that was one of a number erected in the area of Dodford in the 19th century. It’s open infrequently, so looking to the weather forecast we booked to view the property on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, the NT guides were unable to unlock the front door, so we never got to see inside, just peer through the windows.

We had returned to Upton House in Warwickshire at the beginning of the month to enjoy the walk along the escarpment overlooking the site of the 1642 Battle of Edgehill, and then around the garden. We had first visited in July 2012.

We were away in the USA during June and July, and just made some local visits in August. We were preparing for a week of NT and English Heritage (EH) visits in Cornwall during the second week of September.

What a busy week! We stopped at Barrington Court in Somerset on the way south, and Knightshayes in Devon on the way home a week later. You can read about those visits here.

Barrington Court

Knightshayes

We visited four more houses in Cornwall: Lanhydrock, Cotehele, St Michael’s Mount, and Trerice, and I wrote about those visits here.

Then there were the coastal visits, to The Lizard, Cape Cornwall, and Levant Mine (check out the stories here).

While on the north coast (visiting Tintagel Castle – see below), we stopped by Tintagel Old Post Office.

Cornwall has some fine gardens, and we visited these: Glendurgan, Godolphin, Trelissick, and Trengwaintonread about them here.

October was a quiet month. I can’t remember if we took a walk at Hanbury, but we did enjoy a long one along the Heart of England Way at Baddesley Clinton.

November saw us in the northeast, with a return visit to Seaton Delaval Hall (that we first visited in August 2013), and also to Penshaw Monument that is such an imposing sight over the Durham-Tyneside landscape.

In mid-November it was 70th birthday, and Steph and I spent a long weekend in Liverpool. One of the highlights was a visit to the Beatles Childhood Homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney – rather emotional.

We completed our National Trust year by enjoying Christmas at Coughton Court on 30 November.


We have been members of English Heritage (EH) since 2015. Our daughters gifted us membership at Christmas 2014. Witley Court in Worcestershire is the nearest property to home, and we have been visiting there since the 1980s when we first moved to Bromsgrove. But not during 2108. Here’s a story from September 2017.

In April we were in the northeast and enjoyed a visit to Warkworth Castle near Alnwick on the Northumberland coast (map) with grandsons Elvis and Felix. Since it was close to St George’s Day, there was a tournament entertainment for the children.

Warkworth Castle

While in the northeast, we visited Rievaulx Abbey, somewhere I had first visited as a student in the summer of 1968, and then again in the mid-1980s on holiday with the family on the Yorkshire coast.

Towards the South Transept and the east end of the church from the southeast.

During our trip to Cornwall in September, we got to visit Chysauster Ancient Village, Pendennis Castle, Restormel Castle, and Tintagel Castle, which I have written about here.

The steps leading up to the castle gate.

Then in November, on the way home from Newcastle, we stopped off at Mount Grace Priory, that is owned by the National Trust but managed by English Heritage.

It was a bright and calm November morning, lots of color in the trees, and we were enchanted by the peace of this wonderful site. On our trips to Newcastle we have passed the entrance to the Priory many times, but never had found the time (or the weather) to stop off. It was well worth the wait.


This has been our heritage 2018. We have barely scratched the surface of NT and EH properties. We look forward to spreading our wings further afield in 2019.

Kernow a’gas dynergh – Welcome to Cornwall (4): An impressive horticultural legacy

Gardens. How many were designed and planted decades, even centuries ago, that can only now be fully appreciated? They were never seen in all their glory by their visionary originators. What a horticultural legacy they bequeathed to later generations.

The National Trust manages four important gardens in Cornwall which we were delighted to visit during our recent break there. Of course, many of the houses which the NT owns have their own gardens. But the four we visited are ‘marketed’ as gardens in their own right:

  • Glendurgan Garden, on the east coast, just south of Falmouth
  • Trelissick, at the head of Carrick Roads near Truro
  • Godolphin, an important medieval garden east of Penzance
  • Trengwainton Garden, northwest of Penzance.

All lie south of 50.2°N, and so there are many exotic species like tree ferns and bamboos that thrive under these conditions. And although these gardens would have been in their prime earlier in the year, with rhododendrons, camellias, and magnolias in flower, we saw enough during our exploration of these gardens to appreciate how they might look in another season.


Glendurgan Garden was the first on our list. Having enjoyed a walk at Lizard Point earlier on this bright, sunny day, we looked forward to a pleasant stroll around the garden.

The garden was planted in the 1820s and 1830s by Alfred Fox, and occupies a steep-sided valley down to the fishing village of Durgan, below Glendurgan House, home of the Fox family (not open to the public).

We followed the red trail down to Durgan village, and came back up the brown trail on the left, taking in a viewing platform overlooking the maze (that was planted in 1833).

Check out more photos here.


It was a mizzly sort of day when we stopped by Trelissick on our way back to our holiday cottage after visiting another NT property northwest of Plymouth, Cotehele House. So we were never going to fully appreciate one of the triumphs of Trelissick: the panorama from the terrace in front of the house down to the shores of the River Fal estuary.

Trelissick was the family home of the Copeland family, owners of the Spode China factory in Stoke on Trent (I used to pass nearby everyday on my way to grammar school in Trent Vale in the 1960s). Just a few rooms on the ground floor are currently open to the public. It was passed to the National Trust in 1955.

From the terrace, we made our way south through the garden, taking in the views (such as they were) from the tennis lawn (8) and the parkland (9) that did provide nice views back to the house. From Jack’s summer house (at the tip of the garden) we worked our way back up on the eastern side, crossing over the bridge into Carcaddon (11), then back towards the house across the main lawn (4).

Take a look at the rest of the photos here.


Godolphin has a particular claim to fame. In its various gardens, the King’s Garden (5) and Side Garden (14), it seems little has changed since at least the 16th century, maybe earlier.

The Godolphins derived their wealth from some of the most important mines in Cornwall, the remains of which can still be seen dotted around the estate.

The main entrance of Godolphin House (9)

The Undercroft (8)

On the day of our visit just the King’s Room was open to the public. The National Trust has a holiday let here at Godolphin, and mostly the house is off-limits to the general public apart from certain days per year.

The Side Garden (14) from the Dry Ponds (16)

One of the two Dry Ponds (16)

More photos of the garden can be viewed here.

We also enjoyed the 1.5 mile walk to the top of Godolphin Hill, from where there is a 360° panorama to be enjoyed.

Looking towards Land’s End from the top of Godolphin Hill.


Northwest of Penzance, Trengwainton Garden offers magnificent views over Mount’s Bay, towards St Michael’s Mount in the east and Land’s End in the west.

Only the garden, full of exotic shrubs (particularly bamboos and tree ferns) is open to the public, although there is access to the terrace (R) below the house from where the panorama can be enjoyed.

Once again we were too late for many of the shrubs that flowered earlier in the year, but nevertheless our stroll through these leafy glades was rewarded by the view from the terrace.

There is also an impressive walled garden, divided into several ‘rooms’ growing vegetables and ornamentals. On the day of our visit there was an exhibition of scarecrows made by local schoolchildren to celebrate the centenary of women getting the vote in the UK.

More photos are included in this album.


We enjoyed this horticultural tour of Cornwall, and of course the gardens at the various houses we also visited: St Michael’s Mount, Lanhydrock, Cotehele House, and Trerice. We decided not to visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan (which must also be included in Cornwall’s horticultural heritage) having more than enough on our itinerary of National Trust and English Heritage sites to add another.


These are the other four stories in this Cornwall series:

Kernow a’gas dynergh – Welcome to Cornwall (1): The journey south . . . and back

Kernow a’gas dynergh – Welcome to Cornwall (2): Coast to coast

Kernow a’gas dynergh – Welcome to Cornwall (3): Stepping back in time

Kernow a’gas dynergh – Welcome to Cornwall (5): Magnificent mansions