A Travellerspoint blog

Burghley House and Gardens

Lincolnshire

Greetings! This weekend's adventure took us to Burghley (pronounced Bur-lee) House in Stamford. This magnificent house is also off of the A1. Burghley claims to be "England's Greatest Elizabethan House" and I certainly understand why. I am just amazed at how this is called a "house," in my non-expert opinion, this fits the "castle" bill.

A little history on Burghley House. The house dates back to the 16th century and was built for Sir William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, who was the Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I. Burghley House has been in the Cecil family for over 16 generations. Michael Exeter is the current Cecil family member associated with the property. He is also known as the 8th Marquess of Exeter, 17th Earl of Exeter and 18th Baron Burghley. Fun fact, Michael was born in Canada and educated in England. During his schooling in England, he lived at Burghley with his grandparents (the Fifth Marquess and Marchioness). He now lives in Oregon. His cousin lives at Burghley and is the House Director for the Burghley House Preservation Trust, which oversees the house and gardens and overall estate. The main part of the house has 35 major rooms on the ground and first floors. There are more than 80 lesser rooms and numerous halls, corridors, bathrooms, and service areas throughout. We were able to go into 16 of the rooms. Much to my dismay yet again, Capability Brown left his mark on several parts of the property and not just the gardens.

Burghley House: https://www.burghley.co.uk

Entrance to Burghley House
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Our entrance to the tour
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Our tour started in the Old Kitchen. The kitchen was massive, which is of no surprise. I took a few pictures of different "appliances" in the kitchen.

Roaster
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Oven
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After the kitchen, the tour went to the Hog's Hall. Not quite sure why it is called that. There were several fire buckets here and a porter chair. I quite enjoyed the "bell system" which was the intercom system back in the day (this should look somewhat familiar to Downton Abbey fans!). Until 1950, the only telephone in the entire house was located in the Hog's Hall and Burghley was connected to mains electricity in 1956. I would call that an upgrade.
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From Hog's Hall we walked up the Roman Stairs which were beautiful and decorated with Tudor emblems.
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From the staircase, we reached the Ante Chapel and then the Chapel. The Chapel was beautiful.
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The guide in the room mentioned that this is the family bible dating back to the 16th century.
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From the chapel we walked through the Billard Room, where as one could imagine was a billiards table. The table was made of wood from the HMS Royal George which sank at Spithead in 1782. We then went into the Bow Room.

From the Bow Room
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After the Bow Room, it was into the Brown Drawing Room. The bed in the room was used by a young Queen Victoria.
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After the Brown Drawing Room, it was into the Black and Yellow Room. Apparently this room has had King George VI, HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and the Duke and Duchess of York stay here when they visited Burghley. The guide in the Black and Yellow Room mentioned that a sign of wealth was buying tapestries or having tapestries made. There were dozens of tapestries on the walls of the house, indicative of the wealth of the family.
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The Marquetry Room was immediately following the Black and Yellow Room. I really liked this room. I found it interesting with its large doorway and corner chimney. There was also a small Jewel Closet hidden away in the side of the room and a beautiful mural painted on the ceiling of the closet.
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Corner chimney
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Jewel Closet
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Mural on ceiling of Jewel Closet
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From the Marquetry Room, the tour led into Queen Elizabeth's Bedroom. Unfortunately, Queen Elizabeth was prevented from staying at Burghley when she visited in 1566 due to a contagious illness within the household, so she never actually stayed in this room, despite it bearing her name.
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We next went into the Pagoda Room, which reminded me of an office. This room also had two little closets on the sides; one had a tub and the other looked to be a dressing room.
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Next, was the Blue Silk Bedroom, followed by the ever creatively named, Blue Silk Dressing Room. I, again, really enjoyed the corner chimney in the room as well as the paintings.
Blue Silk Bedroom
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Blue Silk Dressing Room
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The tour continued through to the First, Second, Third, and Fourth George Rooms.
Fireplace in the First George Room
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This was the Second George Room. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert stayed in this room during their visit to Burghley in 1844. I enjoyed the little closet with the washroom in the corner. There were also a pair of gloves Queen Victoria had worn during her visit in a case in the room.
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Third George Room
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Queen Victoria used the Fourth George Room as her Withdrawing Room....because doesn't everyone need a room to withdraw into? I found the table really unique as well as a few pieces of furniture in the corners of the room.
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After the Fourth George Room, was probably the most spectacular room in the house, in my opinion. We came to the Heaven Room, aptly named for the murals painted on the walls and ceilings of the room. The murals, which were painted by Verrio, depict Vulcan discovering his wife Venus in a compromising position. Other gods and goddesses are summoned or presumed to be curious as to what is happening. Verrio had painted himself in the corner of the room as one of the onlookers. The room was used as one of the first rooms for guests as they entered the home because it would evoke conversation, according to a wonderful guide in the room. The view from this room was also spectacular.
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View from Heaven Room
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If there is a Heaven, there must also be a Hell, right? Indeed there was, but it was called Hell Staircase in Burghley and it did not disappoint. Verrio also painted this scene, depicting the mouth of Hell as the gaping mouth of an enormous....cat. A cat of all things.
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Cabinet in Hell Staircase
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Cat's mouth
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The final room in the house was the Great Hall, which was rather impressive. This was reportedly used as a large dining room.
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And last but not least, the gardens.
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In comparing Grimsthorpe Castle and Burghley House, I much preferred the gardens at Grimsthorpe and the wonderful parkland with trails. I enjoyed both the castle and the house as they were very different in appearance and decor.

On to the next adventure!

Posted by LCP 09:13 Archived in England Tagged gardens england park house hidden burghley Comments (1)

Grimsthorpe Castle

Lincolnshire

Greetings! We took a trip a little north on the A1, which by the way, history-lesson-time, predominantly parallels the Great North Road which was the main highway between London and Edinburgh, to visit Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire. I had come across Grimsthorpe in a brochure I had picked up. The brochure was really inviting so I decided to do a little more research into tickets as there seemed to be some good deals available. We opted for the 2019 Season Tickets because the ticket not only included admission to Grimsthorpe but also, a few special events, and one admission to Burghley House and Easton Walled Gardens. Burghley House is definitely on my list of places to visit.

A little history on Grimsthorpe Castle. It consists of the castle, gardens, and park. Grimsthorpe has been a home for the Willoughby de Eresby family since 1516. The home was granted by Henry VIII to William, Baron Willoughby de Eresby when he married Maria de Salinas, lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon in 1516 (pop quiz: remember in a previous post...Katherine of Aragon was the first wife of Henry VIII who was banished for not producing a male heir and died at Kimbolton Castle following the last 22 months of her life there...this will come up again below). Construction of the castle is said to have begun in the 13th century and the oldest part is King John's Tower, which was built in the 13th century. In 1715, upon elevation to the Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven, Robert Bertie, 16th Baron Willoughby de Eresby, employed Sir John Vanbrugh to design a baroque front to the home to celebrate his new title (because doesn't everyone do that?!). Sir John Vanbrugh also designed Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard, also must sees. The Willoughby de Eres family still fulfills the hereditary office of Lord Great Chamberlain, the Monarch's representative at the Palace of Westminster, one of three families in England who fulfill this role. Some of oak trees in the park at Grimsthorpe Castle were likely to have been recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 (the big land survey) and were possibly still alive in the 20th century. Capability Brown, left his mark at Grimsthorpe as well, much to my dismay yet again, having designed the current park on the property. Grimsthorpe Castle also played a role both in World War I and World War II. The park was used as an emergency landing ground for the Royal Air Force in World War I and part of the central part of the park was used as a bombing range during World War II.

I've included links below to the Grimsthorpe website and Hidden England, which Grimsthorpe (and Rockingham Castle which we had visited previously around Christmastime) is a part of. I had not heard of Hidden England before, but I am sure we will be checking out some of the properties on there as well.

Grimsthorpe website: https://www.grimsthorpe.co.uk
Hidden England: https://www.hiddenengland.org

We really enjoyed Grimsthorpe Castle. We were able to do a 5.6 mile hike around the park and lake and saw some sheep and very curious deer. I included some pictures below from the trail. We arrived right when the property opened and had a wonderful walk with very typical English weather. Afterwards, we took a self-guided tour of the house. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos inside of the property. One of the most interesting things to me was in The South Corridor. The gallery there is lined with a series of thrones that various Kings and Queens used, to include: George IV, Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and Edward VII, in the old House of Commons. The Corridor also contained the rosewood desk in velvet that Queen Victoria signed her Coronation Oath on in 1838. George IV's throne was MASSIVE; he was apparently a large man with a 54 inch waist, according to the guide (apparently the nursery rhyme "Georgie Porgie" was an ode to George IV's size) . His coronation in 1821 apparently included a men's only 55 course meal; women/wives were banished to balconies to watch, according to the guide. The Gothic Bedroom in the house contained a canopy of state which supposedly hung over the throne of George IV. It was quite spectacular! The Chapel in the castle was also very beautiful. We were curious how the Willoughby family would have acquired these items as they do not receive money for their role mentioned above. The guide mentioned that the "payment," if you will, was the ability to ask for the thrones, desks, etc. Pretty sweet deal, if you ask me. She also mentioned that the house was technically part of a trust which avoids the dreaded inheritance tax. The inheritance tax could bankrupt families combined with the upkeep of the homes which is why a lot of families turn to trusts for their properties. The guide also enlightened us with a few interesting stories about Henry VIII during our visit. The first story was that Henry VIII prohibited visitors from seeing banished Katherine and Maria, being such a good friend (mentioned above) wouldn't listen, so she hopped on her horse and rode all the way from Grimsthorpe Castle to Kimbolton Castle where the guide told us that Katherine died in Maria's arms. What are friends for! Also, when Henry VIII visited Grimsthorpe Castle he took one look and realized he couldn't deal with the stairs due to a leg injury, so he stayed in a tent out back (probably "glamping") we were told. I am so glad we ran into this particular guide, she was wonderful and we had quite the conversation with her. After we finished in the house, we toured the various gardens. We really enjoyed Grimsthorpe and will hopefully return, if not just to take a walk through the park and gardens.

Grimsthorpe Castle:
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The back of the castle:
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Gardens:
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Trail:
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On to the next adventure!

Posted by LCP 08:20 Archived in England Tagged gardens home england walking castle trail hidden grimsthorpe Comments (4)

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)

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