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Archive for the ‘historical houses of the uk’ Category

While I was working in Oxted, on most days, I made the most of my breaks to explore the area and add to my miles for the #walk1000miles challenge, as well as improve my fitness for the Camino. On one said walk my feet took me to one of the largest surviving historic estates in Surrey; Titsey Place in Oxted dates back to the 16th century.

Titsey Estate Surrey

the beautiful grounds of the Titsey Estate

An impressive manor house set in beautiful gardens on a large estate in the stunning countryside of the North Downs. Sadly the house was still closed for winter but I’m hoping to visit when I next visit Oxted.

titsey house and estate surrey

Titsey House, Surrey

My walk took me along the lanes and by-ways of Oxted and I enjoyed being able to explore further afield. I’m participating in the walk 1000 miles 2017 challenge and this walk from Oxted to the Titsey Estate and along part of the Pilgrim’s Way took 1 hour 49 minutes; 4.57 miles / 11,735 steps.

titsey place surrey

the highways and byways of Surrey

I so enjoyed the quiet of the Downs pathway, just me and the birds in the trees and a few cows. I could see and hear the traffic on the M25, and although it didn’t really spoil the walk, it’s interesting how difficult it is to walk anywhere these days without traffic encroaching. We’re meant to walk for health, but if you consider the amount of traffic we’re constantly walking nearby to….well!!! LOL anyway, moving on from that thorny issue, I love walking and thoroughly enjoyed the views and the house looked awesome….roll on March end.

titsey place oxted surrey

views of the Titsey Place Estate near Oxted in Surrey

Titsey House and Gardens are held in Charitable Trust and for part of the year are open to the public offering and there are guided tours of the house.

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The weather had been pretty grim my first week in Oxted, with some snow flurries on the following Sunday, not enough to impress but just enough to get excited about….it soon melted and didn’t return. However, not to be deterred by the weather, on Tuesday, the afternoon after my arrival, I set off to explore and my meandering took me through the town of Oxted and along the streets and roads and on to a delightful medieval village called Limpsfield. What a treat!! The High Street is lined with houses dating from as far back as the 15th and 16th centuries.

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some of the quintessentially English houses lining the streets of Limpsfield; a Domesday village

Quintessentially English houses built of local quarried stone lined both sides, looking absolutely charming. I discovered the little church; St Peter’s, constructed in the late 12th century and a Grade I listed building.  As I was entering the church I noticed that it was in fact a Pilgrim church!!! Thrilling. In alignment with my Camino this year I am hoping to gather some stamps before I set off on my walk. There was a stamp hanging on a board at the door, so I’m planning on ordering my Camino passport as soon as possible and when I return to the assignment at the end of March I’m hoping to be able to add that as the start of many I plan to collect on my journey. The church is also famous because the English composer Frederick Delius and orchestral conductor Sir Thomas Beecham are both buried in the village churchyard. Although I looked very carefully I never did find Delius’s grave.

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St Peter’s Church, Limpsfield – a pilgrim’s church

Situated at the foot of the North Downs, Limpsfield would have been on the ancient Pilgrim’s Way that stretches along the base of the downs between Winchester and Canterbury. To my delight on researching the history I discovered that Limpsfield too was a Domesday village: and appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Limenesfeld and held by the Abbot of Battle Abbey, Sussex.

Limpsfield’s High Street is named as a conservation area with 89 listed buildings along the street and in the immediate locality; one of which, Old Court Cottage in Titsey Road, (formerly the manorial court of the Abbot of Battle), is Grade I listed building and dates from c1190-1200 (including aisle posts and arcade plates) with alterations in the late 14th century, and a 16th-century crosswing. (ref wikipedia). Unfortunately I didn’t get to see this building, but the Post Office/village store was just charming so I stepped over the threshold and bought some stamps and a chocolate 🙂

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Limpsfield High Street

I spent some time photographing all the buildings and meandering about the church and churchyard. I love these old ancient places and often wish I could just knock on the doors of the houses to see inside 😉

At the entrance to the village is a delightful name board – I love finding these!

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Limpsfield, Surrey

Limenesfelde 1086 (db). ‘Open land at Limen’. OE feld added to a Celtic place name or river-name

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You can imagine my absolute delight on discovering that my last assignment which took me to a town called Oxted in Surrey, is one of the Domesday towns of 1086!! Now that I’ve starting compiling my list, the towns are adding up fast and furious 🙂

Of course when I got the booking I wasn’t aware of this, but after a few days with my clients, the gentleman of whom is a history buff, we got to talking and he loaned me a book about the town….voila….Domesday town!! In the Domesday Book the then village is spelled ‘Acstede’ – meaning ‘the place of the oaks’.

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Oxted; the place of the oaks – a 1086 Domesday Book village

Oxted – the place of the oaks. I delight in finding out the meanings of the names behind some of these older villages. Although first mentioned in the Domeday book of 1086, Oxted area was inhabited from as early as the late Iron Age. Located exactly on the Greenwich Meridian at O* longitude and on 51* 15′ latitude. The so-called Pilgrim’s way from Winchester to Canterbury passes the north of Oxted. As soon as I discovered this little snippet I set out to find the plaque. No-one seemed to know anything about it (?) but eventually I located it, set in the pharmacy wall on the exterior, the lass who directed me to the person who knew where it was, said she’d walked past it every days for months and didn’t know it was there! Such is life when it comes to history!

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Besides being a Domesday Book village, Oxted lies on the Greenwich Meridian

On one of my walks I discovered a 2nd plaque that marked the point where the North Downs Way crossed the Meridian Line. 🙂 Awesome!!

St Mary’s Church in Oxted stands on a mound believed to have been a pre-Christian place of worship. The church has undergone much restoration and the walls were raised. There are remains within the church from Saxon times and changes and improvements range from 12th century through to 19th century. Sadly the door (unusually) was locked whenever I went past so I didn’t get to go in. Perhaps next time.

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St Mary’s Church, Oxted.

On one of my walks past the church I stopped in at the old graveyard and to may amazement discovered a herd of goats!!! A notice on the fence said that they graze them here to keep the grass and weeds under control rather than mowing…makes perfect sense to me. 🙂  Further exploration revealed two Anglo-Saxon graves next to the porch of St Mary’s Church.

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2 Anglo-Saxon graves at St Mary’s Church, Oxted

The period before the Battle of Hastings in 1066 laid the foundations of a new age and with the coming of the Normans a small settlement began to grow up on the site of the Old Oxted. The medieval period is when Oxted began to establish itself as an integrated community. During the 15 C and 16 C some of the most picturesque buildings were constructed. Many of these buildings are still standing albeit occupied with vastly different businesses. Many of the survivors date to 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. An architectural treasure trove.

I spent a number of days meandering about the town exploring during my time in the area and spent one of my breaks exploring the Old town of Oxted.  Now that was an architectural marvel.

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Old Oxted – High Street

The Old Bell Pub at the top of the High Street was a wonderful discovery ; with one section built in the 14th century, the middle section in the 16th/17th century and the latter part in the 18th century. It’s now a listed building and no further alterations can be made…quite right!! I stepped inside for a brief look and to photograph the 14th century beamed ceiling.

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The Old Bell Pub, Old Oxted, Surrey – an architectural marvel

On Tuesday, the afternoon after my arrival, I set off to explore and my meandering took me through the old town and on to a delightful medieval village called Limpsfield. What a treat!! The High Street is lined with houses dating from as far back as the 15th and 16th centuries.

Other days were taken up with walking to Titsey Farm and along the North Downs Pilgrims Way. The views are spectacular and the only thing that spoils it all is the M25 motorway that runs between the town and the North Downs.

Oxted reminds me a lot of another town I visited some years ago…Weobley in Herefordshire. ‘The term “black and white” derives from presence of many timbered and half-timbered houses in the area, some dating from medieval times. The buildings’ black oak beams are exposed on the outside, with white painted walls between. The numbers of houses surviving in this style in the villages creates a very distinctive impression and differs from building styles outside this area.’

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I loved this sign. Oxted, Surrey. – the place of the oaks. If you look at the windows you can see some other buildings reflected.

I’m looking forward to my next spell In Oxted at the end of March. And since UPS (the slackers) lost my hard-drive with all my photos from the last 10 years on it, I shall have to visit Weobley again too. Maybe I should sue UPS for their tardiness.

p.s. I’ll be posting the article on Limpsfield shortly 😉 come back then.

Limpsfield; a Domesday village

 

 

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After a lovely hot shower when I got back to the B&B the night before, I jumped into bed and snuggled down for the night…weary to my bones but every so happy with what I had seen. Thankfully my night was undisturbed so when the alarm went off at 7:30 again I felt refreshed and ready to go go go. This was also my final morning on the island and I was due to catch the 13:47 ferry to Portsmouth and then train to London.

Sadly the B&B forgot to put out my breakfast tray so I had to raid the dining room and left with 2 yogurt pots and a box of cereal in my backpack. Oh the food I eat when exploring.

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fantastic views from the top deck of the bus

I hopped onto the 08:50 bus to Osborne and arrived with 45 minutes to spare before the gates of Osborne House opened. Rather than hang around kicking my heels I had noticed on the way in that East Cowes marina was just a stones-throw (okay no not really…it was a tad further), so I set off at a quick pace to explore – despite that it was all downhill, I’m so glad I made the effort.

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East Cowes Marina

The weather was stunning in comparison to the day before and the marina looked beautiful. I explored for a bit then headed back to Osborne House…..urgh those hills going back up!!!

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aerial view of Osborne and the house

Osborne House was wonderful. The interior is sumptuous and the views from the patio and many of the windows are stunning. Osborne House was the much loved seaside retreat for Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, built between 1845 and 1851, and apparently they spent many a happy day there with their children. It was also the place Victoria returned to after the death of her beloved Albert in 1861. She was to spend the next 7 years there, holed up, mourning the loss of her husband, friend and confidant, dressed in black and refusing to budge, even though desperately needed as Head of State. She even refused to ‘Open Parliament’, which put the Government in a quandry!  Queen Victoria used Osborne for over 50 years, entertaining foreign royalty and visiting ministers.

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Osborne House, Isle of Wight – seaside home for Victoria and Albert

Taken on a guided tour of the lower floor and some of the rooms, we were left gasping by the sheer splendour and magnificence of the furnishings and decorations. Albert had pretty much the final say on how it should look and I can say the man had amazing taste; he has left an amazing legacy for the country.

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beautifully decorated and long passageways

Not ostentatious, but finely set out, the rooms are stunning with faux-marble columns, exquisitely woven carpets, fabulous paintings on the walls, much of it original furniture and works of art (some are replicas as the current Queen has the originals).

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exquisitely furnished with lush carpets, decorative ceilings, fabulous chandeliers

Their initials V & A interwoven can be seen in ceiling decorations, woven into the corners of carpets and added wherever possible.

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V & A – everywhere you looked there initials were interwoven and part of the decor; carpets, floors, ceilings, cornices

I found it to be quite poignant viewing the rooms and imagined the family living there – how much they must have loved it.

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beautiful passageways with exquisite sculptures, finely furnished rooms

Many, many family portraits filled the walls in most of the family rooms. Poignant images of beloved children, from toddlers into adulthood with children of their own; all long gone, some of whom met tragic ends.

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Victoria and Albert who between them created a dynasty that spread across the world – family portraits

The one room that left me gasping was the fabulous Durbar Room. Added to entertain large numbers of people it was built and completed between 1891 and 1892 almost 30 years after Prince Albert’s death…I’m quite sure he would have approved. This room is stunning! Designed by Lockwood Kipling (father of the author Rudyard Kipling) and master carver Bhai Ram Singh. Detailed with intricate Indian-style plaster work, it is richly decorated in the architectural styles of northern India and reflected Queen Victoria’s then status as Empress of India, the large reception room is breath-taking. Although it looks like everything is carved from ivory, the plaster-work was executed by the Indian plasterer Bhai Ram Singh -there is not one piece of ivory in the room.

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The Durbar Room, Osborne House

The Durbar Wing also provided accommodation for Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria’s youngest married daughter, and her family on the 1st floor.

In the display cabinets in the room are some of the stunning gifts received by Victoria when she was Empress of India.

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gifts for the Empress of India, Osborne House, Isle of Wight

With reference to my visit to The Needles yesterday and the Marconi Monument, in 1898 messages were received from Marconi at Queen Victoria’s Osborne House on a telephone presented by Alexander Bell.

Queen Victoria died at Osborne House in 1901.

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Queen Victoria – Osborne House, Isle of Wight

Her successor, her eldest son, Edward VII (1841–1910), didn’t need it and as no other member of the royal family wanted to take on the upkeep, the king gave the Osborne estate to the nation on his  Coronation Day in 1902.  Osborne House is now managed by English Heritage.

After the tour which sadly only took in part of the house due to much needed repairs being done on the central staircase, I headed outdoors to enjoy the sunshine and views. The grounds are a delight and much as I wanted to go down to the beach are and visit the Swiss Cottage, my time was almost up, so I contented myself with a quick whizz around the perimeter of the house and at 12noon I recorded the chimes of the clock and then set off back to the bus-stop. In all a fantastic trip.

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Exterior views of Osborne House and across the grounds to the Solent

My next stop was Ryde, then the B&B where I collected my suitcase and set off for the ferry with plenty of time to spare. I even managed to watch one of the Hovercraft come in to land….again!!! LOL They are fascinating to watch.

And so it was time to say goodbye to the Isle of Wight. I shall definitely return, although I know not when. But there is still much to see and after chatting to the gentleman that I accosted one day on one of my walks in Bembridge, I am inspired to do what he did and walk around the while perimeter of the island. (btw I didn’t harm the guy, I just stopped him to ask about the walking poles he was using!! 😉 )

visit the isle of wight

Goodbye to the Isle of Wight

One of my ambitions is to visit 100 of the Domesday towns and villages in England. There are 84 such places on the Isle of Wight, some of which have morphed into larger towns and others that are still around but looking nothing at all like they may have in 1085/86. I managed to visit 6 of these places: Binstead, Brading, Nettleston, Sandown, Shanklin and a walk through the lower end of Puckpool.

The Domesday Book was commissioned in December 1085 by William the Conqueror, who invaded England in 1066. The first draft was completed in August 1086 and contained records for 13,418 settlements in the English counties south of the rivers Ribble and Tees (the border with Scotland at the time).

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