Last weekend my family and I managed to squeeze in visits to three historic National Trust properties, something which I really love to do. I didn’t think about dedicating a blog post to this whirlwind trip until I returned home, so I apologise for the lack of photos. If I return to these places I’ll make sure to take some more (and better) photos!
The first property we visited was Moseley Old Hall in Staffordshire, an Elizabethan farmhouse which hid King Charles II when he was fleeing Oliver Cromwell’s troops after the Battle of Worcester in 1651. We had a guided tour around the house which showed us the bed he slept in and the priest hole he hid in! Our tour guide told us some really interesting facts as well. For example, the top of the 400 year old dining table is not attached to the legs, meaning it can be turned over. Food was prepared on one unpolished side on the table, and served on the other side, which would be polished and clean. Apparently, if you didn’t want to have to provide food for certain guests, you would turn the table to the unpolished side, and thus this was the origin of the phrase “turning the table” on someone. I don’t know how true this actually is, but it’s a good story all the same!
Another fact we were told was that wealthy people often used to serve their food on bread (known as “trenchers”), simply because they could afford to waste it. They didn’t eat this bread; instead they put it outside as alms to the poor. Those of the population who were not so well off, ate their food off square wooden plates. This is possibly where the saying “a square meal” originates!
The second property we visited was Powis Castle, just over the border into Wales. We couldn’t spend much time there, but luckily we had visited this castle and its gardens only a few months ago. The castle itself is perched on top of a rocky ridge above terraces and formal gardens. It is a pretty spectacular and unique place to visit.
The last property we went to was Attingham Park, an 18th century mansion in Shropshire. The main mansion (which, I have just realised, I didn’t actually photograph!) wasn’t open when we visited, but we did get a chance to look around the servant’s quarters in the basement which included the kitchen.
For lunch I had parsnip and celeriac soup, made from vegetables grown in the estate’s own walled garden. I had never eaten celeriac before so wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it, but it was delicious!
We also had a little wander through the woodland which, at this time of year as spring is beginning to arrive, is covered with a beautiful blanket of white snowdrops. It was lovely and tranquil.
I wish I had thought to take more photos of the weekend. The next time I visit a National Trust property, I’ll make sure to whip out my camera at every opportunity!