Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stourhead continued

by Ann Lethbridge

Just popping down to the garden to mow the bridge, dear.

I've no idea if this bridge was always grassed like this but I found it fascinating.

There are all kinds of interesting surprises and views at Stourhead. It really is a feast for the eyes, and if you've a mind to satisfy your appetite then join me on my walk.

It is a long one, with all kinds of winding trails.

Now what is this I wonder? It is the next surprise as we meander around the lake. More about the what it is later, but you must admit it is an intriguing tumble of ruin set amid the trees on the edge of the far side of the lake.

Once more, and completely by happenstance, my framing of the picture is quite elegant. Now I do wish I could paint a picture like that. Look at all those different shades of green. It would make a wonderful jigsaw puzzle too. Let us stroll on a littler further

And what is this we see on the hill yonder, a mausoleum? A temple?

Difficult to tell from here. But cast your eye over the array of colours below. The rhododendrons in full bloom.

Imagine having a view like that in your back yard and wandering around it in your sprigged muslin on the arm of a gentleman dressed in skin-tight pantaloons and a snowy white cravat.

Goodness I think I need to sit down and take a breather. I feel quite warm and my stays are suddenly tighter than they were when I left home.

Let us just sit and admire the view together. I have given you some mysteries to observe, which I promise to unravel later in our walk. But there is much more to see before then.

We will continue our walk next time, Happy Rambles.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More Stourhead

by Michele Ann Young

This was my first view of the gardens at Stourhead.

The reflection of the bridge in the water, the distant folly and the tree branches framing the picture all made the perfect portrait of another time.

I didn't quite believe what I was seeing.

I took several shots of this view, but this is my favorite, even if it does have a bit of fence in the foreground. Although this next one, from a slightly different angle comes pretty close.

Do you think the designer of the garden intended for the bridge to make such a perfect ellipse? My guess is yes.

I will be using this on my website in the header, as soon as I can remember how.

The gardens were designed by Henry Hoare II (remember Hoare's bank) and laid out between 1741 and 1780 in a classical 18th-century design set around a large lake achieved by damming a small stream. The inspiration behind their creation were the painters Claude Lorrain, Poussin and in particular, Gaspar Dughet who painted Utopian-type views of Italian landscapes.

You certainly can't get more Utopian that the views above, which is why I am going to to post all of my Stourhead pictures over the next few blogs, and I hope you will not be bored, but for me this estate epitomised my internal image of the perfect English country estate in the late 18th and early 19th century and I want to capture it where I can visit it again and again.

At the time of year we visited, early June, one of the draws for the gardens was the display of "azaleas". It was only as we walked around that I realized that azaleas and rhododendrons are of the same family.

The Rhododendron ponticum, called Common Rhododendron were introduced around the lake by Sir Richard Colt Hoare in 1791. Unfortunately these bushes while beautiful, are not native to Britain and have been encroaching on our natural plants at an alarming rate. But since this is not a blog about saving natural plantlife, I will say no more on that topic. Later he added two Rhododendron arboreum.

In this last picture you will see flashes of colour which are some of the rhododendrons in bloom, for we were lucky enough to be there right when most of them were flowering and the colours, everything from white which you see at the edge of this shot to deep red, which you see just beyond the bridge, were ours to enjoy.

This is a very long ramble, and so here we will take a rest and begin our journey around the lake next time. Until then, drink a nice cup of tea and keep cool beneath the trees.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Stourhead ~ Wiltshire

by Ann Lethbridge

The house and park at Stourhead were a wonderful surprise.

Here is the house as seen in 1817. Did you fall in love yet? Could the house be any grander?

Note the blocked windows at the end of the wing. I don't have an explanation for it, or at least not as yet, except that it may have been another of those window tax cost savings.

And there are our Regency folk, walking on the drive with sheep on the lawn. One way to keep the grass under control.

But let us start at the beginning.

Stourhead was originally owed by the ancient Barons Stourton, who had lived there since Saxon times and the property then was called Stourton House. That house was demolished in 1717 after it was purchased by Henry Hoare I. The Hoares were and are bankers. They still own the last of the privately owned banks in England. And our Regency characters, those of the nobility, might well have banked with Hoare's Bank.

Not all of the the Stourtons was wiped off the map, because part of the Stourhead estate contains the village of Stourton.

One walks through the village to get to the house and grounds.

While the village has a love parish church, St Peter's, pictured here, there are only about five or so actual dwellings in the village proper.

It really is enchanting. It feels like a trip back in time.

We were there in the very last days of May and I think you can see how lush and green everything was from this picture and the spray of roses up the side of the house was so typical of so many cottages and houses that we saw on our travels.

Next time we are going to take a ramble in the park itself.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Regency English Countryside.

By Michele Ann Young

Make sure you have sound before viewing this video.

I do hope you can access this video. The reason I am posting it is not such much the view, which is of the Vale of Blackmore, Thomas Hardy country in Dorset, but it is the sounds of the birds. This was taken on June 2, and what you are seeing is simply a view across Marnhull from a field. I have a few more still pictures to add, but listen to those birds. the little yellow dots among the grass are buttercups.

I'm afraid you will have to ignore the wind, and my little grunt. I just can't not talk, even for a few seconds, though I did remember after I started to say something.

This is the first post about Dorset. Lots more to come, but as you can see this is definitely a case of happy rambles

Monday, August 3, 2009

Regency Fashion ~ August

by Ann Lethbridge

Friday turned out to be quite eventful. The postman brought three books to my door. The French versions of The Rake's Inherited Courtesan.

I absolutely love the cover! It is so different to the UK and North American Cover which you see on the right bar, but it is just as nice. In fact, to me it realy is evocative of at least one of the scenes in the book. And I adore the title. All right, so I can't read more than a few words, but this is my first foreign version of a book so I am sure you don't begrudge me a little excitement.

Here is the deal, firstreader from France to comment on the blog, gets one of my three copies.

Now enough of this writerly stuff I hear you say. We want Fashio. And your wish is my command.

This is from pre Regency, but still in our long Regency period and is taken from the Ladies Monthly Museum.

As you can see, it is called undress, but clearly these ladies are out in the garden or perhaps in the park. Not the sunshade, which looks to me if could just as easily serve to keep the rain off, which they must be expecting with all those layers.

First Figure: Village hat of straw or chip, with cap, and flowers in front, underneath the hat; black net cloak with lace trimming; and white cambric muslin robe.

Second Figure: Grecian bonnet of straw or white muslin, with lilac trimming; Jersey jacket with worked or printed border; pale blue gloves and straw coloured shoes.

I like the term village hat, don't you, very evocative of summers in the country. I'm not sure what is Grecian about the other bonnet.?

Our next offering is well into the Regency ~ August 1816.

From La Belle Assemblee

Round, high dress of fine cambric, or jacconet muslin, ornamented at the bottom with four rows of Vandyke trimming of rich embroidery, surmounted by a flounce vandyked at the edge. Full sleeves of muslin, à la Duchesse de Berri, confined by bands of embroidered cambric, and surmounted by imperials wings of clear muslin. Treble ruff of broad lace, and sash of muslin, the ends trimmed with lace of a Vandyke pattern. Bonnet of leghorn ornamented with ears of Indian corn, and turned up slightly in the front. Shoes of lilac kid. The hair in full curls, dressed forward.

Talk about fussy. But so pretty. Delicious and feminine. This is definitely one I can see one of my characters wearing. Note to self. Write a book set in 1816.

Can't wait.

Until next time, Happy Rambles