Thursday, 7 June 2018

A Letter From Wimpole

I recently went for a walk in the grounds of Wimpole Hall. Despite having been there many times I have never been in weather so perfect. I felt I was experiencing it as Capability Brown had intended it to be seen, or as an aristocratic visitor to a country house might report it to a favourite aunt..... 

My Dearest Aunt Gertrude,

   I arrived today at the country retreat of Sir Nathaniel Trust at Wimpole in the county of Cambridgeshire. I must say it is a rather splendid bolt-hole for a fellow to recharge the old batteries with a brisk perambulation in the positively pastorals. On arrival it was soon ascertained that dear old Nat Trust had a good many other visitors on this fine June morning; the carriage-park before the Hall being full to bursting. We therefore availed ourselves of a parking space along the minor road leading to the north and walked from there.

   Our path led initially through a belt of woodland, planted as a kind of silvan backdrop thing to the landscapes envisaged and enacted by Mr Lancelot Brown. Small birds twittered in the  leafy canopy and all was well with the world. One could so easily forget the frenetic doings of the smoky capital.

   We then made our way to a delightful field set about with ox-eye daisies. That the lands of this county are amply fertile and fruitful was clear to even a city dweller who comes to wander this way.

   A descending track soon brought us to the farm of Mr Cobb

We surveyed the broad prosperous acres from a convenient eminence before continuing on our way.

   We came at length to the Hall's magnificent stable block where one could purchase a ticket to inspect the stately pile, but finding oneself in a state of precarious pecuniary imbalance one had to make do with a cup of tea.  This was served in an inelegant disposable cup and one had not only to add milk to taste but to fish for the teabag with a plastic spoon ill-designed for the purpose. And all for the trifling sum of £2 a cup!

   The Hall though is both charming and imposing in equal measure and we admired the sculptures as we trod the gravel paths before the entrance.

   The parkland roundabouts is well-endowed with fine umbrageous trees which are for the most part arranged in avenues leading from the house towards the horizon.

   And there in the distance we caught sight of a great castle of romantic proportions. It is a surprise to learn that, despite the semi-ruinous appearance of the outer walls, no great battles have been fought there. For this castle took shape in the mind of Mr Sanderson Miller and was constructed merely to give a medieval aspect to the grand panorama.

   We were delighted to make the acquaintance of some sheep and lambs of benign and thoughtful countenance who unhurriedly grazed these lush meadow lands. These sheep, we were told, were of the Woodland Whiteface variety, much prized in days gone by for both their meat and their fleeces.

   Others of the flock disported themselves beneath the shade on the far side of an ornamental lake on which there flowered yellow water-lilies.

   A wooden structure styled "The Chinese Bridge" pointed our way towards the castle or ruin or folly, call it what you will.

      We had soon ascended the short rise to the fortress and found it an amusing place where a party might take a pleasant picnic and dream of times long past.

  One could easily imagine oneself astride a white horse riding through the great arch intent on coming to the aid of any maidens who might need rescuing.

   In the absence of having any heroic deeds to perform we continued up into the woodlands to complete our circumnavigation. I must say that Nat Trust does take good care of his property though I speculate that far more people would come if it were not so popular.

                                                                 Your faithful and loving nephew,

Take care.


  1. Isn't that last sentence rather a contradiction in terms Algy old boy?

  2. It really does look like a wonderful place to visit.

  3. So gorgeous and serene...and those giant sheep are scary as...giant sheep!

    I am a little disappointed that the castle lacks a great tale. Couldn't you make something up?

  4. Your vocabulary had some great exercise with the weather today!

  5. That first photo is exceptional!

  6. Such lush and wonderful shots.

  7. What a charming post. What is the book you refer to? I am not familiar with it. The writing sounds almost Victorian, but disposable cups and plastic spoons weren't about then.

  8. Your closing paragraph made me laugh out loud 😀 What a perfectly delightful escape to gentler times, I have always wanted to see a Capability Brown garden and now I feel that I have.. the paper cups were a wee bit naff though 😀 Have a super weekend John ✨

  9. I can picture this letter to Auntie being written at an antique desk whilst overlooking the countryside.
    That castle is absolutely gorgeous!

  10. This is such a wonderful letter! Love your creativity and humor. It's grand in every way, as are the photos. What a fine fun journey.

  11. A fun and interesting letter and great photos, too!

  12. Haha, yes, far more people would go if these places weren't so popular (and expensive). Lucky for we retirees that we can at least try to choose slightly less busy days.

  13. Brilliant John - delightful to read ... Algernon has a good hand. So glad you found probably a much nicer route round - loved seeing everything ... could we please see Algernon on his white steed next time?! Cheers Hilary

  14. This was great to read! You have a wonderful way with words.

  15. Once again John I'm sorry this is late but I had to say beautifully written, very eloquent, I agree with Louise.


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