Thursday, 28 June 2018

Early Spring At Chippenham Park House & Gardens, Chippenham, Cambridgeshire

Late last year I was lucky enough to win a Facebook Competition for one nights stay with breakfast at Chippenham Park House & Gardens in Cambridgeshire, in one of their garden rooms. 

The main house is a Grade II listed house set in 300 acres of parkland and gardens, and is mainly used as a Wedding Venue, with the gardens being occasionally open to the general public.  Originally a house was built on this site at the end of the 17th century for Admiral Russell, later 1st Earl of Orford.  The house we see today was rebuilt in the 1880's in the Queen Anne revival style. 

We chose Saturday 10th February for our stay which was the day before the gardens opened for one month to show of their display of snowdrops.  Unfortunately the weather was wet and miserable when we arrived but brightened up later.

The inside of our garden room.

The walled garden outside of our room, it is also used by the cafe for outside seating.

The cafe where we also had breakfast.

As the weather had improved in the evening we were able to have a walk around the grounds before the general public arrived the next morning.

The gardens comprise of canals, park and formal gardens and are based on an Anglo Dutch designed landscape, with some informal features added in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Here we are looking down The Lake which separates the formal from the informal areas of the park.

The moody evening light looks lovely reflecting on the trees whilst silhouetting others.

This is the other end of the lake, you can just make out the marquee peeking out from behind the trees on the left bank, showing you what a stunning setting this place provides for weddings.

Part of the old 4-acre kitchen garden in front of Hare Hall with the evening sun lighting up the ornamental grasses.

Hare Hall.

As you can see Hares are a common theme.

Some of the Dogwood that is dotted around the park adding another colour to the winter palette, this area is part of the Winter Walk.

The setting sun at the end of the Grand Canal.

Just one of the many carpets of Snowdrops, part of the Snowdrop Walks.

A nest of birds looking slightly hungry, not sure I want to stick around to meet Mum!

Well that's the light done for today, more exploring to be done tomorrow after breakfast.

At least the next morning was dry, quite chilly and not very bright, but the flowers and plants made up for it.  Some of the Snowdrops. Hellebores (Christmas Rose) and Aconites.

A purple version of the Hellebore with larger flower heads than the green version.

Some more of the Dogwood adding some striking colour.

Snowdrops, Dwarf Iris and Miniature Cyclamen.

I love the patterns on these Dwarf Iris.

Part of the Winter Walk, we could hear several birds chirping away as we were walking along here, but could not see them.

We are back in the old kitchen garden, there is a large mound in the corner, which gives you a good view across the garden towards Hare Hall.  The area is divided in to sections by Hornbeam Hedging.

You also get a very good view of the arched colonnade of Leylandii, I bet that takes a while to cut!

It is incredibly straight and neat and very tall.

We came across some interesting ironwork gates.

And a pair of elephants guarding this gateway.

The detail is incredible.

Here you can see a grove of young Himalayan Birch, they will make an impressive display in years to come.

A calf enjoying the Snowdrops, I think the birds have been finding him a very good perch!

We had heard a lot of squawking as we had been walking around here and then spotted this group of Canada Geese on the far bank.

I didn't think there had been any large cats in Cambridgeshire for several years!

Even the trees and shrubs are starting to show signs that spring is around the corner.

This sly looking fox looks like it is keeping a beady on on what is going on, must be fairly placid as the birds have been perched on his too.

I don't think I have every seen quite such a large Mahonia shrub before, it must be fairly old.

Of course, leaping frogs.

For more information on Chippenham Park House & Gardens follow this link:

Chippenham Park Events

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Christmas In Norwich, Norfolk With A Visit To The Cathedral

We had a couple of days in Norwich to get in some Christmas shopping and also to see the Christmas lights.  Norwich is such a lovely city, there are lots of streets, large and small, lined with large shopping chains, right down to independent boutiques for you to browse around.  You are never to far away from a cafe or restaurant to have a rest and people watch.  There is also plenty of history dotted around the city to keep your interest as well.

As it was quite a clear bright start to our day, we walked up to the gardens surrounding the castle to get a glimpse of the skyline, even from here you can see buildings representing many different ages.

Some of the Christmas decorations in the newest indoor shopping centre, intu Chapelfield which was opened in 2005.

In contrast, later we were standing in the courtyard of Strangers Hall, the oldest parts of the building date back to the fourteenth century, with later additions of the years.  It has had many uses but is most known as the residence for many of Norwich's Lord Mayors, the first one back in 1340.  Today it is a Museum showcasing domestic history.

A couple of the shop windows that caught my eye are shown here, this music shop had some very unusual guitars for sale, not sure I have seen anything like them before.

This beautiful window was at Berrys and Grey, designer furnishings, soft furnishings and finishing touches.

and of course, sweet shops, especially traditional ones always look colorful this time of year.

This is one of the classic views of the center Norwich the market place with its colorful market stall roofs.  The market is one of the oldest , it dates back to 1066 after the Norman Conquest, and is one of the largest outdoor markets in the country.  The whole market area was remodelled in the 1930's and at this moment in time it has 189 stalls trading Monday to Saturday and a handful on Sunday.

After spending the day wandering around the town we stopped off for some food, I really liked the lights twinkling in the darkness.

Fed and watered we headed back to the market place to see the Christmas lights.  Here we are standing in front of City Hall which stands above the market place, with the Castle standing above everything in the distance.

Norwich is very much a city of contrast with periods of architecture standing side by side, this shot is a typical example.

We are standing in St Peters Street, to our right just coming into shot is City Hall, an art deco building, completed in 1938.

Next to it is The Forum, completed in October 2001, it is an impressive glass building, housing Norwich Library, the local Tourist Information Office, and BBC East's offices and studios.

Standing tall and proud looking over both of these buildings is the parish church of St Peter Mancroft, built for the Norman Colony.  There are records showing it being rebuilt in 1430.  It is one of 32 surviving medieval churches around the city of Norwich.

One of the Christmas lights highlights was the Tunnel of Lights, which made its first appearance last year.  The 47 feet long tunnel and its 50,000 LED bulbs, has a light display programmed in that not only changes the colour of the lights but also the display.  It certainly is stunning and feels quite surreal when you are standing inside.

I have to say that overall I was quite disappointed with the lights around the town.  Yes the Tunnel Of Lights was impressive and so too the projection on the side of the Castle which we are coming too, but as for the rest of the town apart from a few lights strung across the walkways and in the trees and the department stores Jarrolds looking as I would expect most stores too, there was very little else.

This impressive building standing in front of us and to the side of the Market Place and St Giles Street is the Guildhall.  It was built between 1407 and 1413 and has some lovely chequered flint work making it stand out.

As I mentioned earlier, Jarrolds never fails to disappoint, not only to they have an impressive building on the corner of the market place, but they certainly know how to dress it up at Christmas, it almost looks like it has been iced.

I took these photos of the projections on the side of the Castle while we were waiting at the bus stop for the Park and Ride Bus.

Now all the years we have been coming to Norwich we have never visited the Cathedral so on a very sunny afternoon we decided to put this right.

Norwich was not the first choice for a centre of worship back in 1070 when William the Conqueror replaced the Saxon bishop of East Anglia with a Norman, who transferred the See of East Anglia to Thetford.  However in 1904-5 the bishop Herbert de Losinga, who had already failed to gain control of the great Abbey at Bury St Edmunds, moved the See to Norwich., which was the largest town in East Anglia and proceeded to build the Cathedral and Priory in 1096.

Here we are looking at the Erpingham Gate, which leads into Cathedral Close.  This gate was built soon after 1424, for entry to the Cathedral Close which was a monastic precinct.  Today many of the buildings are either private homes or offices.  This gate was given to the Cathedral by Sir Thomas Erpingham a Norfolk Knight, who is best known for being the commander of Henry V's longbow army in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.

Looking across part of the Cathedral Close at some of the lovely buildings with the Cathedral looming over the top, this close is the largest of all the Cathedral Close's in England.  The statue that you can see in the foreground is of The Duke Of Wellington.  This statue was originally erected in Gentlemen's Walk in Norwich Market in 1854 and then moved to its current location in 1937.

The Cathedrals full title is The Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity.  We are now inside the Cathedral and if I thought the outside was impressive, the interior is stunning, and huge.  We are looking down the centre of the Nave, with its Romanesque structure and Gothic vault, dwarfing the pulpit and the alter at the end.

One of the many beautiful, colourful, stained glass windows, full of story.  The stone work elements of this window date back to the early 15th Century, however the stained glass was designed and made in 1854, after the original was destroyed and replaced with plain glass following the Reformation.  The window was restored on 1995 to bring back the vibrant colours.

One of many stone coffins you can see around the Cathedral.

This stained glass window depicting a Crusader Knight in the center, with soldiers from the First World War on the left, and the Second World War on the right, has an inscription in the bottom corner.  It reads: 'Erected by the Officers of the Kings Own Royal  Regiment Norfolk Yeomanry in memory of fallen comrades of all ranks 1914 - 1918.'

This stained glass window dates back to 1918 and the 'is dedicated by the 7th Princes Royals, Dragoon Guards, to the glory of god and in affectionate remembrance of their comrades who lost their lives in the service of their King and Country during the Great War 1914 - 1918.'

Whilst we were in the Cathedral a short reading was read together with the Lords Prayer at 11am.

We are now standing in the Presbytery the crowning space of the Cathedral, with all the focus on the High Alter.  Behind the High Alter you can just make out the bishop's throne.  The flower arrangement on the floor in front is placed onto of the tomb of Herbert de Losinga, how founded the Cathedral in 1096.

This area is The Choir and is lined with 15th Century oak stalls containing misericords (leaning-seats to support the monks during long services).  The church organ is perched high above everybody's heads and you actually walk under it.

Here we are in St Saviour's Chapel with a door on the right leading to the grave of Nurse Edith Cavell.  The Chapel was built in the 1930's as a memorial to those who died in the First World War.

Nurse Edith Cavell was born in Swardeston near Norwich, and was the pioneer of professional nursing training in Belgium before the First World War.  She was executed by the German authorities in 1915 for helping Allied soldiers escape to neutral territory from behind enemy lines.

One of the benefits of having a long lens on your camera is being able to capture a moment in time from a very discreet distance.  Here we are witnessing a service being held in Jesus Chapel, the service is Holy Communion (BCP), BCP meaning using the Book Of Common Prayer 1662, which is no longer used in most churches.

Here we have climbed up the narrow staircase to the Reliquary Chapel where relics of beloved Saints would have been kept and displayed, you can still see the medieval wall and ceiling paintings dating to around 1278.  Today this room is used as the Treasury, displaying gold and silver communion vessels from many parish churches.

Here we can clearly see the tomb of Herbert de Losinga, whom I mentioned earlier, who was the founder of the Cathedral in 1096.

Here we are walking along part of The Cloisters, which were passageways that linked the different parts of the Monastery and would have been used by the monks during their daily duties.  They overlook the green that dominates the area between the Monastery buildings and the Cathedral.

The view of the Cathedral from The Cloisters and across the green, it certainly is one very impressive building.

Useful websites for more information:

intu Chapelfield Mall -

Norwich Cathedral -