Beginning in London . . . . .
And on to Scotland . . . . .
Beginning in London . . . . .
And on to Scotland . . . . .
For 2021, Number One London is offering an up-close look at six of Britain’s finest stately homes, each one showcasing impressive state rooms, private family rooms and perfectly preserved “downstairs” domestic spaces, all presented within a leisurely itinerary. Once we check-in to our hotel in the historic spa town of Buxton, the rest of the tour will be taken as day trips, via luxury coach.
The itinerary includes visits to magnificent properties, some of which have been named as one of England’s 10 Treasure Houses – Castle Howard (above), Harewood House and Chatsworth House – while Shugborough Hall, Tatton Park and Lyme Park have been chosen for their unique history and architectural significance.
Click link in photo for complete Tour itinerary and links to each property!
Leaving the Castle Hotel, Ryde, Victoria and I headed to East Cowes and our next hotel, Albert Cottage, once home to Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s younger daughter. The hotel is set in two acres of beautiful gardens backing onto Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s favourite holiday residence. Directly next to the hotel stands the entrance gate to Osborne House, above, still reserved for the use of the current Royals. The public entrance to Osborne House is further on down the street.
From the hotel website – “Built in the 1840s, probably by Thomas Cubitt – the then leading master builder in London – ‘Albert Cottage’ was bought in 1852 by Prince Albert to be part of a Botanic Garden development of the Osborne House Estate, and was used together with the adjacent Osborne Cottage by Royal guests. In 1899 a covered corridor was constructed to link the two properties and allow easy movement between them without guests having to brave any inclement weather.”
“This corridor now links the main Hotel and Consort Restaurant & Bar area. When Queen Victoria died in 1901, her successor Edward VII kept both cottages for the use of Victoria’s youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice. In 1913 the Princess moved to Carisbrooke Castle and Albert Cottage was sold to Sir Richard Burbidge, philanthropist Managing Director of Harrods. It was again sold in 1924 to The Hon. Elizabeth Storr, widow of Major L.P. Storr DSO, a war hero killed in action in France in 1918. After later neglect it was turned into a hotel in 1999 and now further developed by current owners HTP Apprenticeship College.”
Upon check-in, Vicky and I were given a two bedroom suite. Vicky’s bedroom looked lovely from the doorway . . . .
And enormous from within. It even offered a sitting area with balcony.
My bedroom was just as lovely, and afforded me views of the Gate. A nice touch – our bathroom shower included instructions.
We had the cozy drawing room to ourselves and enjoyed the expansive garden views.
Some of the other guests were a bit stand-offish, below, but the staff were lovely.
In the afternoon, we made our way to Osborne House for the first of our two day visit to the property. Returning to the hotel that evening, we dined in the Prince Consort Restaurant.
Vicky chose the lamb.
I opted for mussels.
And we split the cheese board for dessert.
Once we had completed our tour of Osborne House, the gardens, beach and Swiss Cottage, Vicky and I headed to the historic town of Cowes and began our sightseeing in Shooters Hill.
As the postcard above illustrates, Shooters Hill has been attracting visitors for quite some time, although today it has mostly been pedestrianized.
Once more, we were blessed with blue skies and fine weather.
We spent a leisurely few hours admiring the seafront and nosing around in the wide selection of shops. Eventually, we made our way to the Union Inn, which had been recommended to us by our cab driver as the place to eat in Cowes.
From the Island Eye website: “The Union Inn was possibly built after the act of union between England and Scotland, which took place in the year 1707. The pub was a firm favourite of the navy press gang, who used the pub to enlist many young men into their services when the fleet was at Portsmouth.”
As luck would have it, it was a Sunday. And by now, you should know what that means.
More delicious adventures coming soon!
Our last Wellington archive was located at the Public Record Office in Chichester, West Sussex, where Vicky and I had rented the cozy cottage above.
The cottage was full of charming period details, including the period staircase. You’ll understand why we left our bags on the ground floor for the duration of our stay.
But there was plenty of room outside, as the town of Chichester was literally on our doorstep and the George and Dragon Inn, above, literally around the corner. We both agreed that it looked like the perfect place in which to have lunch.
Vicky opted for the pie of the day.
And I ordered the ploughman’s lunch. We both had a Pimm’s.
After lunch, we decided that it would be a good idea to explore the historic town and so we set off down the High Street.
The Dolphin Hotel has been a local landmark since 1910, when two neighbouring inns, the Dolphin (1649) and the Anchor (1768) were combined.
Eventually, we arrived at Chichester Cathedral. Construction on the Cathedral was begun in 1075 and it was completed and consecrated in 1108.
As evident in the photos above, the Cathedral contains much of architectural and artistic interest, but what brought us up short was the monument below –
William Huskisson! Who knew?
And nearby, the memorial to his wife, Eliza Emily.
Also a memorial to Sir George Murray, whose Blue Plaque we saw on the High Street earlier.
Next morning, after a cozy night’s sleep, Vicky and I took about twenty steps outside our cottage door to The Exclusive Cake Shop & Vintage Tea Room, where we indulged in scones, a latte (Vicky) and a marshmallow laden hot chocolate (me). Afterwards it was off to the archives for a day of Wellington research.
So, the Rye Esplanade is also home to the local bus service, as well as to the trains. Victoria had suggested that we visit Appuldurcombe House, and as that was the only thing on our agenda this day, we decided to take the local bus there, which would allow us to see more of the Isle of Wight along the way. Sitting on the top of the bus, we had great views.
We let the driver know that our destination was Appuldurcombe and he agreed to let us know when our stop was approaching.
“So, what’s at Appuldurcombe, then? Capability Brown, Chippendale and knife boxes?” I asked Vicky.
“You don’t know Appledurcombe?” she asked.
“Never heard of it,” I replied.
“It’s been abandoned. It’s a ruin. A shell of its former self,” Vicky informed me.
“Like Sutton Scarsdale?” We’d visited Sutton Scarsdale the previous year, on Number One London’s Country House Tour.
“Yes, except that there aren’t any plans to restore Appledurcombe. They’ve just shored up the shell and you’re actually allowed to walk around the ruins.”
Now this was a new take on the stately home. I sat back and watched the scenery go by – views from the sea cliffs, a handful of towns and villages and a wide variety of architectural styles of houses and shopfronts.
About an hour later, our bus driver let us know that the next stop would be ours. “See there, that’s your street,” he said, as we passed it. “Bus stop is just here. Walk back and down that lane and you’ll find Appuldurcombe House.”
And so Vicky and I set off, eyes wide at the Midsomer Murders look of the lane and its charming houses. So typically English. So quaint.
After a while, the lane began to go uphill. Still, we trudged.
“I haven’t seen a single sign for Appuldurcombe House,” said Vicky. “Have you?”
“No,” I replied. “But the bus driver said it was just down this lane and walkable.”
“Ha! You know what the English are like. If we’d asked if we could walk from here to Edinburgh, they’d have said yes. Never mind that it would take us a week to get there.”
I knew from experience that she was right. But I didn’t think the nice bus driver would have led us down the garden path, so to speak. The hill grew steeper, though you can’t tell by these photos.
“Can you see anything that looks like a ruined house?” Vicky asked.
“Nope. You sit here on this wall and I’ll go ahead and see if I can spot the house,” I told her.
And so I walked up hill, up the lane and around the turn and this is what I found.
A field full of cows. Friendly cows. As soon as they saw me, they began to make their way over to the fence. A litter of Labrador puppies could not have been more eager to see me.
“Vicky! Come here!”
“What do you see? Is it the house?”
“No. Better. Cows!”
Caution: Many Cow Photos Ahead
Bonus – sheep!
Cows and sheep!
As evidenced by the plethora of photos we took, we spent quite a bit of time with the cows – petting the cows, photographing the cows, talking to the cows, communing with the cows, but at last Vicky said, “Well, should we head back?”
“No! Our aim was to see Appuldurcombe House. We can’t give up now. Stay here and I’ll go ahead and see what I can see.”
I walked ahead about fifteen steps and this is what I saw.
I walked the fifteen steps back, “The house is just there, around the bend.”
Off we set down the path, through the wood and a field of bluebells.
It was all a bit Hansel and Gretel-ish.
Finally, we had our first, up close glimpse of Appuldurcombe.
And then, there it was before us. In all its ruined glory. We were both gobsmacked.
An honest to goodness ruin. And not another soul about. Not another tourist, not a caretaker, not Vincent Price, not even a wicked witch. We had the place well and truly to ourselves.
“Are you sure we’re allowed to wander around?” I asked.
“That’s what the website said,” replied Vicky. “I don’t see that anything is roped off, do you?”
I did not. And so we wandered.
I don’t know how long we were there, but we investigated every bit of Appuldurcombe, for the most part in silence. It’s very eerie being alone there, among the ruins. It’s a far cry from my usual stately home visits. You do feel as though the house is waiting. For what, I don’t know, but Appuldurcombe still stands proudly, refusing to completely give way to ruin; recalling grander times, listening to the echoes of long silenced family voices, keeping watch over the nearby Wroxall village.
We never did see another living soul.