A Travellerspoint blog

March 2019

Anglesey Abbey and Lode Mill

National Trust Property - Cambridgeshire

Greetings! We just took a visit to Anglesey Abbey and Lode Mill. This is another National Trust property. I really enjoyed this property, maybe even more than Wimpole Estate, another National Trust property, which we visited a few weeks ago.

When we first entered, we walked on a wonderful trail through various gardens. I have several pictures below, but I'm not quite sure they do the gardens justice. The variety and types of plants were just beautiful and the weather certainly couldn't have been better. I would imagine in another few weeks more things may be in bloom and the trail would be stunning. After about a 20 minute trail walk we came to Lode Mill.

Views from the trail:
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Lode Mill dates back to the Domesday Book. The Domesday Book was a land survey of England and Wales, known as the "Great Survey," and was ordered to be completed by William the Conqueror. The survey was completed in 1086. No other land survey of the scale of the Domesday Book was attempted again until 1873 with the Return of Owners of Land, also known as the "Modern Domesday." (There's the history lesson for the day!). The mill remains an active water- mill today for grinding flour and you can buy the famous wholemeal flour from the mill or the shop near the entrance of the property. We were able to tour the mill and go about the different floors. There were many small steps, more like ladders, to get to the different floors and as one who falls up and down stairs, I was nervous, but I had no issues. The view from the mill was quite fantastic.

Inside of Lode Mill:
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After the mill, we continued on the trail walk and came to the house, Anglesey Abbey. Anglesey Abbey is believed to date back to 1135 and was established as the hospital of St. Mary's by Henry I. It was converted to a priory of Augustinian canons in the thirteenth century. When Henry VIII began to dissolve monasteries in 1536, monastic life came to an end at the Abbey. The Abbey passed through a few more hands before being purchased by Huttleston Broughton, later known as the 1st Lord Fairhaven, and his brother Henry in 1926. Over the next 40 years, Lord Fairhaven added onto the Abbey and accumulated an impressive collection of art work. Lord Fairhaven's mother was the American oil heiress, Cara Leyland Rogers, who may have influenced his artistic tastes, and his father was very successful as well, having amassed a fortune in American railroads. Lord Fairhaven had a fantastic collection of art work of Windsor which showed the changing landscape over the years. The paintings were located in a two-story gallery in the Abbey. I believe I recall one of the volunteers mentioning that the house has one of the largest (if not the largest) collection of art work of any National Trust property. There was also a very interesting wooden piano on the first floor of the gallery. Lord Fairhaven was apparently a very precise person; he had dozens of clocks and several grandfather clocks throughout the house. One of the volunteers told us a funny story about Lord Fairhaven...the butler of the house would come down and announce the cocktail hour at 7:50pm. Everyone would have a salty dog cocktail, which is a cocktail of gin, or vodka, and grapefruit juice, served in a highball glass with a salted rim. At 8:00pm the butler would then announce dinner and guests had exactly three minutes to make it to the dining room or forfeit dinner. If you arrived at 8:04pm in the dining room, you were out of luck. So, the entry time to the house is a nod to the precise-ness of Lord Fairhaven. The rooms in the Abbey are definitely smaller and cozy and there are many more hallways and pathways compared to Wimpole. I enjoyed the vaulting throughout the house, especially in the dining room. I also appreciated the Jacobean architectural style of the Abbey. The gardens were beautiful here, pretty much what I think of when I think of English gardens. It would be great to picnic here or to just come for a stroll. After we finished the house tour we, walked through the Rose Garden and the Formal Gardens before joining the trail again and exiting. I would definitely visit Anglesey again!

Anglesey Abbey:
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Lord Fairhaven:
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A nod to Lord Fairhaven's timeliness:
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His mother, Cara:
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Inside of the Abbey:
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Rose garden:
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Formal garden:
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Onto the next adventure!

Posted by LCP 03:19 Archived in England Tagged england national clocks abbey mill fairhaven lord trust anglesey cambridgeshire lode Comments (1)

Slovakia

Off the beaten path

Slovakia was an interesting and fun experience. I quite honestly didn't have this country on my initial "places to visit list" and I can't really say any of Eastern Europe was on my list, but Slovakia changed my mind. And again, I have to thank my friend who planned this trip and showed me some off-of-the beaten-path places. I must give her credit for the castle and cave pictures below. These were two places we had to pay to take pictures. We drove to Slovakia on the third day of our Poland-Slovakia trip. From Zakopane, the trip to Slovakia wasn't that long, maybe a few hours. We turned down one road and a little ways up was a "Slovakia" sign, very underwhelming. Not, "Welcome to Slovakia", but just a blue and white small sign.

Slovakia sign:
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When first driving across the border:
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Our first stop was Orava Castle which dates back to the thirteenth century, when Slovakia was part of the Kingdom of Hungary. It was constructed high above the Orava river in the village of Oravský Podzámok, Slovakia. And yes, very high up...it was a hike up to the castle and a hike around the castle. There were so many steps and stairs, and as one who falls both up and down stairs, I was a little nervous, but it all worked out. The castle was quite impressive and had three distinct areas. Unfortunately, the tour was given in Slovakian, so I didn't understand much at all. I think I caught the word "Catholic" once when were were in the dungeon, but I'm not certain. We took quite a few pictures and the views from the top were fantastic.

Orava Castle:
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After the castle, we went to find Wooden Articular Church of Leštiny, Slovakia which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the broader category of Wooden churches of the Slovak Carpathians. The church dates back to the 1600s and is made completely of wood. This church was off the beaten path for sure, I think we drove by it three times and there was definitely no parking. Unfortunately, the church was closed, but we were able to get some pictures from the outside.

Wooden Articular Church of Leštiny:
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Following the church, we went on a tour of a cave. We took an hour long tour of the Demänovská Jaskyňa Slobody cave, which sits below the Nízke Tatry Mountains. Unfortunately, this tour was also in Slovakian, but my friend has a lot of knowledge on caves and pointed out some interesting things to me and took some great pictures. The drive to the cave was also pretty interesting.

On the way to the cave, the drive was beautiful:
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The cave:
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My overall impression of Slovakia is that it is a hidden gem in Eastern Europe. It is part of the European Union and uses the euro for its currency. I plan on returning at some point, to go to the capital, Bratislava. After the cave, it was back on the road to Zakopane to finish up the Poland-Slovakia trip.

Border sign returning to Poland:
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On to the next adventure...

Posted by LCP 09:53 Archived in Slovakia Tagged church world cave heritage castle unesco slovakia wooden Comments (0)

Handmade Polish Pottery

Manufaktura Pottery Tour - Bolesławiec

I must admit, like I mentioned in my previous post, I did not know about Polish pottery. I was lucky enough to have a friend introduce me to it and now I am hooked! There are five quality levels for handmade Polish pottery, 1-5. The best being "Quality 1" is exported to the US and other countries while "Quality 2-5" are sold in the local factory outlets and also any leftover pottery from export is also sold in the factory outlets. The pottery sold in the States costs at least two times as much as it is in Poland and a lot of the time, more than that. The pottery is handmade in factories and my friend was able to get us into a tour of one of the factories.

Factory outlets:
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I found the tour very interesting and it helped that it was in English. We went to "Manufaktura" for our tour, which was located in Bolesławiec, Poland. I believe the guide said there are three factories in the Bolesławiec-area that are associated with Manufaktura. I included a link to company down below, if you care to read more. The tour was about an hour long. I learned that there are basically four steps to the handmade pottery process: shaping/molding the clay, firing, painting and glazing, and then the final firing. The first stop on the tour was the shaping area. We watched a worker shaping the clay into the various shapes of plates, mugs, dishes, figurines, etc. A pink line is painted/put onto each piece (this will disappear later in the process, as I recall) signaling a piece can move on in the process. If the shape is not right, the clay can be reused and remolded. Next, the pottery is ready to be baked/fired in the oven at 900 degrees Celsius for 8 hours. During this baking, the pottery pieces are stacked on one another. After the baking, the pottery is put into a water bath to find any cracks that may have appeared. If there are cracks, the pottery does not move onto the next point, which is painting the pattern. The paint is mineral based and therefore can rub off on your fingers. So, the painters are only allowed to touch the rim and the bottom of the pottery. The painters are given a pattern/design to follow and sometimes these are seasonal other times it is the traditional blue and white pattern which most people are familiar with. Patterns/designs are specific to a certain factory; each factory has their own designs and shapes for their specific handmade pottery and in some instances, these can be rare. For this particular factory, the key was a blue rim around the top of the piece of pottery. I was amazed at the intricacy of the designs on the pottery. After painting, the pieces are glazed and then baked again. The baking this time occurs at 1250 degrees Celsius for 13 hours. During this baking, the pottery cannot touch because the glaze will cause the pieces to stick together, so each piece is carefully arranged on the cart. Once the pieces are done, they are reviewed for any flaws, which could be an extra polka dot or flower, etc. Each piece is given one of the quality ratings above during this review. To my untrained eye, I could not tell the difference between and Quality 1 and 3, but there is a price difference. On some pieces, if you look at the bottom, the painter will have signed the piece. After we finished the tour, we did a little more pottery shopping and then departed for yet another acclaimed pottery shop, Andy Pottery. I also included a link to Andy Pottery below, too.

Shop inside Manufaktura:
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Pottery.JPG

Factory Tour:
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Manufaktura: http://polish-pottery.com.pl/en/manufactory/
Andy: http://www.andypolishpottery.com
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I was able to purchase some pottery at the factory outlets, some at Manufaktura and at Andy Pottery. There were so many options in shape, size, and pattern to choose from, it is definitely overwhelming. The pottery is dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe, but I think it is just too pretty to eat off of, ha! I really enjoyed the tour and learned quite a bit.

On to Slovakia...

Posted by LCP 01:46 Archived in Poland Tagged poland tour polish pottery handmade andy manufaktura bolesławiec Comments (1)

Poland

Pottery, Mountains, and a Salt Mine

Greetings! I just returned from a trip to Poland and Slovakia. I figured I would break the trip out into three different posts because it may get rather lengthy and I imagine not everyone is interested in the pottery experience. I have to give credit to my friend who basically planned the whole trip and introduced me to Polish pottery, which I did not know was a thing, but now I am hooked! She is of Polish heritage, so she made sure I tried local specialities while we were there. She is also deserves credit for some of the pictures below. At a few of the places we went to, not only did we have to pay an entrance fee, but we also had to pay to take photos, and she had the better camera and is better at taking photos.

To start with, travel around Europe can be very economical. This was my first experience with Ryanair, a budget airline. There are several of these types of airlines. Google flights can also be your best friend when trying to choose between all of the different airlines. While I had heard stories about Ryanair, both good and bad, I was interested in how my journey would unfold. First of all, Ryanair is cheap, as you are basically buying a random seat on the plane...not reserved seating-that's a fee, no checked baggage- that's also a fee. And don't even bother thinking you get a beverage or food on the flight because that is also a fee. There are nice food options in the airport, so we just picked up food before boarding. I was lucky enough to be allocated a middle seat each time, but it was not that bad, even next to a baby on the return flight. There is also no jetway to walk down to board the plane (I imagine the airline may pay a fee for that and I'm sure that fee would be passed along to the customer), so you walk on the tarmac to board the plane, despite whatever the weather may be doing. Also, they have very strict bag policies. I "upgraded", for a fee of course, to "priority boarding" which allowed me to carry on a personal item and a bag with specific measurements and weight. I stuffed my bag to the brim and I just hoped no gate agent wanted to weigh it or look in it. I was a little nervous about this, but I managed to get all of my beloved pottery back with a little help from my friend. The other thing is non-EU members have to print our their boarding passes, there is no mobile version, otherwise you pay a hefty fee to get the pass at the airport. My experience was definitely a positive one with Ryanair and we will continue booking with them because they have very reasonably price tickets to places we want to visit. My return ticket was $17.25! You honestly can't beat that. Also, the time of day can affect the pricing as well- our flights were very early morning flights, but to me, that just means you don't have a day wasted on travel. One trick I've learned is to figure the British schools' holiday schedule, half terms I think it's called, and then book trips the week after. Prices tend to creep up before the half terms and during because that's when most people with kids in school travel, so I wait until the week after the term ends and then book travel because it is much cheaper. It's also cheaper to travel throughout the year while school is in session.

To begin our journey, we flew from London (Stansted) to Wrocław, Poland. Once we landed, we picked up the rental car and drove to Bolesławiec to do some pottery shopping at the outlets. I was very lucky on this trip because my friend knew where the best places were, especially the factory outlets. It is much cheaper to buy the pottery in Poland rather than in the States...at least two, mostly more, times less expensive than what you'd pay in the States and you can get some rare pieces exclusive to the factories. I will save those details for the pottery blog post. After some serious pottery shopping, we drove to the Hotel Garden, also in Bolesławiec. The hotel was wonderful! We had a spacious room and they restaurant was fantastic. Before dinner, we walked around the city center. At dinner I tried, Polish vodka and apple juice, since it was something I was told was a Polish speciality...it was very smooth and quite enjoyable. I especially enjoyed the breakfast the next morning. The next day we did a pottery factory tour-more details in the next post-and then drove down to Zakopane, which was a five hour car ride. Polish roads are EXCELLENT! They are comparable to American highways, in most places, and they have great signs.

Bolesławiec:
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Polish vodka:
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Zakopane was beautiful and is a hidden gem in southwest Poland. It's known as a local resort town. We had a beautiful view from our AirBnb, we couldn't beat the price either, $24 a night! After arriving, we explored "walking street" which is where all of the shops and restaurants are and then had dinner at Zapiecek. My friend and I shared a bunch of different plates, so I could try some traditional polish food. We had potato pancakes (latkes) , sour soup (soup with hard boiled egg and sausage), and pierogis, which are my new favorite food. They are kind of like a ravioli and can be stuffed with different things; my favorite being potato and cheese, but you really can't go wrong. After dinner we walked a little more, went to a grocery store to pick up a few things as we opted to have breakfast in the flat and pack lunches during our daily excursions. The next day we drove to Slovakia and visited a few places, including a cave and a UNESCO World Heritage site. I will save the Slovakia details for a later post. After the day in Slovakia, we drove back and ate at Chtopskie Jadto, which is a Polish chain I believe. We had potato pancakes (latkes), golumpki (stuffed cabbage), and more pierogis.

View from the flat:
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One of the churches in Zakopane:
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Potato pancakes and sour soup:
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Pierogis:
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Golumpki:
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Our last day in Zakopane, we did a hike to Morskie Oko in the High Tatra Mountains...google it and you will see why...it is stunning, such dramatic views! The Tatra Mountains are part of the Carpathian Mountain chain in Eastern Europe. The mountains create a natural border for Poland and Slovakia. I have a lot of pictures from the hike, so I will let those do the talking. Round trip, it was a 10 mile hike and a lot of the paths were still snow-covered, but it was sunny, without a cloud in the sky, and sixty degrees when we did the hike, perfect weather! The lake itself was still frozen, but the views were still amazing! Following our hike, we drove back to the flat and ate at Mała Szwajcaria, where we had tried a different golumpki and more pierogis. After dinner, we picked up some Pączki, which are Polish donuts. Mine were cream filled and delightful, but I believe my friend said traditional Pączki are jelly filled.

Hike in the Tara Mountains to Morskie Oko:
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Pączki:
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Our last day in Poland, we went to the ”Wieliczka” Salt Mine near Krakow. I included a link to the mine's website below. The salt mine is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The mine is several hundred years old. There were nine levels in the mine, and we were able to tour three of them. There were several chapels that were constructed within the mine and statues, that miners had created. My friend some great pictures in the mine, so I will let those do the talking as well. The mine is not active, but miners still work in the mine ensuring it is safe for tours. We ran into several who were working during our tour. After the mine, we made our way back to Wrocław, for our flight back.

”Wieliczka” Salt Mine: https://www.wieliczka-saltmine.com

Salt mine:
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My overall impression of Poland was that is a wonderful country for visiting. People were very helpful. The food was delicious and the roads were fantastic. Poland is also very cheap. While Poland is a part of the European Union, they use their own currency called the złoty. The exchange rate was roughly 1 złoty = 0.26 USD when we were there...that makes it really cheap to travel around and explore the country. I plan to go back to visit Warsaw and Krakow, and to see Auschwitz.

On to handmade Polish pottery...

Posted by LCP 00:25 Archived in Poland Tagged food poland hike salt mine zakopane pottery tatras Comments (0)

Wimpole Estate

A unique working estate in Royston, part of National Trust

Hello! Welcome back! Apologies for the lack of posts over the past few weeks - we finally came down with the "English cold" which as we were told, usually strikes around the six month mark following your arrival and lingers for several weeks. I would say that is an accurate timeline for sure.

So, in this week's post, I'm going to summarize our trip to Wimpole Estate in Royston. I have wanted to go to Wimpole for a while now. Wimpole, as well as many other sites here, are National Trust properties. National Trust was founded in 1895 as a charity to preserve and protect dozens of properties, and sites throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Trust also includes conservation. The National Trust oversees: "780 miles of coastline, over 248,000 hectares of land, over 500 historic houses, castles, ancient monuments gardens and parks and nature reserves, and finally, close to one million objects and works of art," according to its website. We signed up for a membership, which is pretty reasonably priced (you can usually recoup your membership costs after visiting three or so sites and you get free parking at most sites). There is another similar yearly membership, English Heritage. English Heritage overseas "over 400 historic monuments, buildings and places - from world-famous prehistoric sites to grand medieval castles, from Roman forts on the edges of an empire to a Cold War bunker," according to its website. We chose National Trust because most people here we have talked to have that one, while some have both. We do plan to get an English Heritage membership at some point, but we went with the National Trust because it has more parks and gardens, and more properties. I've included links below to both, if anyone has an interest in looking at what each has to offer as far as properties and sites.

National Trust: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk
English Heritage: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk

Wimpole Estate encompasses the property and the Hall, which we would call the house. Wimpole took ten years to build, begun in 1640 and completed in 1650. It is considered a "country house" located in Cambridgeshire (fun fact the "-shire" that the end of words here is pronounced "sheer" don't say "shire" as you will get some looks here...speaking from experience). Ownership has passed through many important hands over the years, including: Sirs, Earls, a Duke, a Baron, a Lord, and a Viscount. The final owners were Captain George Bambridge and his wife, Elsie Bambridge. Elsie Bambridge was the only surviving child of Rudyard Kipling, who was awarded The Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907. The Bambridges then bequeathed the estate to the National Trust in 1976. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited the Hall in 1843. There is a portrait of Queen Victoria above the fireplace in the Grand Dining Room, which she reportedly said was a " a perfect likeness" of herself.

We went on a self-guided tour of the Hall which consisted of two stories plus the basement area. We began in the Entrance Hall, followed by the Ante-Chapel, the Inner Hall, and the Saloon. The Saloon was a fantastic room with big bay windows to view the gardens and landscape behind the Hall. I could definitely see myself sitting in this room taking my coffee and reading a morning paper while staring out into the gardens. The Yellow Drawing Room was next and did not disappoint, probably one of my favorite rooms. It was built for entertaining and has a unique shape and decor to it, yellow fabric-lined walls. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert reportedly enjoyed this room during their visit and the Queen supposedly wore a yellow bird of paradise silk dress which would have matched the room's decor. We then went through the Red Drawing Room, the Book Room, Library, Long Gallery, South Drawing Room, Ante-Room and the Breakfast Room. Rounding out the first floor were the Grand Dining Room and Grand Staircase. Mrs. Bambridge had converted the Grand Dining Room into a kitchen which consisted of three rooms and a corridor. The National Trust converted this room back into a dining space in 1990 to reflect the room's original purpose. We reached the second floor via the Grand Staircase, and were led into the Lord Chancellor's Bedroom. There is a rather gaudy and ornate red and gold bed in this room, an eighteenth century state bed is what the placard said, which happens to be an elaborately decorated or carved bed...go figure. Next, we went into the Lord Chancellor's Dressing room, which had a smaller twin-sized bed in it. We then came to the Vestibule which led into Mrs. Bambridge's Study, a small little room where Mrs. Bambridge could view the front of the house. The Study led into Mrs. Bambridge's Bedroom, she definitely had a thing for pink and chintz. Right outside of her bedroom, was the Print Room which contained some of Captain Bambridge's collection of prints, but Mrs. Bambridge converted the Print Room into a bathroom suite in 1958 and installed a pink toilet, which is the first thing you see as you walk into the room. Next, it was downstairs to the basement. Here we saw the Bath House. This was interesting because it was designed in 1793 by John Soane and was reportedly used for health benefits, rather than cleanliness and could hold almost 3,000 gallons of water! Apparently group bathing was a thing, not sure I understand the health benefits of that. It kind of reminded me of a very large and deep hot tub in its own room. We then went into The Chapel which was used by both the families who owned the Hall and the servants. It was beautiful. The interior was painted in the 1720s by James Thornhill who used "trompe l'oeil" (trick of the eye), which is a painting technique that uses realistic imagery to create an optical illusion, making objects appear three dimensional. The paintings and the ceiling were beautiful and so interesting, I suspect the "trompe l'oeil" helped with that. We then walked the corridor to the Housekeeper's Room, Butler's Pantry and Steward's Room. The Housekeeper's room was quite large, we were quite surprised by the size of the room actually, compared to that of Mrs. Hughes, the housekeeper in Downton Abbey (a good comparison for all of the Downton Abbey fans). We exited the Hall and walked around the gardens. Much to my dismay, Capability Brown also left his mark on the gardens here (he left his mark at Kimbolton). The day we visited, the weather was rainy and windy, typical English weather, so we didn't get a lot of pictures.

Wimpole Hall
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View with your back to the Hall
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Church next to the Hall, I believe still in use
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Back of the Hall
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Gardens in the back of the Hall
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Ruins viewed from the back of the Hall
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Wimpole Hall was a lovely house. There is also a working farm on the property that we will have to visit next time.

Onto the next adventure...Poland and Slovakia!

Posted by LCP 23:52 Archived in England Tagged gardens england house national farm estate hall trust wimpole royston Comments (1)

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