Monday, November 27, 2006

Country House in Hampshire

I did promise you some of my rambles when I started this blog. Of course, when I go to England, I enjoy a variety of sights, and many of them not strictly Regency. As you know, many of the sights to be seen in England, Scotland and Wales were there hundreds of years before my heros and heroines walked the earth. These were places they would have seen with the same kind of awe we look at them today.

In June 2004 I visited some “stately” homes and some very interesting old buildings
nearby.

I thought I might undertake a little series on that summer’s research. I will save my notes on flora and fauna for June’s Blog though you get some idea from my pictures.


Our first visit is to Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire.


This house lies on the west bank of the River Test near the Norman Road from Winchester to Salisbury. Winchester was the original capital city of England under the Saxon Kings and Salisbury, as you know is famous for its medieval cathedral. I will ramble there one day soon.

The name Mottisfont comes from the the old English motes funta – meaning either ‘spring near the confluence’ long word that which refers to meeting place, or it means ‘spring near the stone’. In either case, there is a spring. It really was an abbey before Henry the eighth got at it, and since that time the house has been “adapted” — according to the guide book. A polite way of saying ‘got at’.



It is an absolutely charming mish-mash of absolutely ancient, really old, and not quite as old but pretty old.
As you can see in this picture, that stone arch at the back of the house definitely looks more priory than house, whereas the red brick at the front looks tudor and the rendering (plaster over the bring) on the wings on each side is clearly Georgian and at one time extended across the whole front of the house, according to a painting done in 1833.



There’s a big thing in England about gardens, and this one has a beauty, but for me the interest is all in the house and the people that might have lived there, or that could live there in one of my novels.
This stream, replete with swans and other water fowl such as coots and moorhens, runs a few steps from the side of the house. Look at that lovely green grass.




In 1086 the manor of Mottisfont belong to William the Conqueror, him who had the domesday book written and that is how we know about so much of the really old stuff. It was turned into a priory in the eleventh century, which was dissolved in 1536.
This picture shows the 'cellarium'. It is the most complete part of the medieval monastic buildings to survive and was the office and storeroom of the cellarer and the undercroft of the prior's lodgings. The cellarer was responsible for running all the priory's lands as well as for its provisions. The circular columns supporting the groined vault (that beautiful roof/ceiling) are made of limestone brought from Caen in Normandy. Here is a picture of my husband in that cellarium and a shot of the little door that leads into the house itself.




I love the mix of the medieval, with the sophisticated taste of Tudor era, the Georgian additions and the 19th and 20th century modernizations.





This last picture is of a laundry press circa 1810, it sits on the tiled floor that was also part of the original tudor kitchen.











The house was used as a home until 1972, although the National Trust owned it by that time.

The house has an extensive Rose Garden and the Guidebook provides some interesting insights into the history of roses, which I will cover on Thursday, before we take a look at the nearby village.

Until next time happy rambles.