Monday 14th September 2015
My final full-day in Derbyshire would be the opportunity I would take to go National Trust-ing. This is something I like to to each time I go away and my membership handbook provided me with a list of houses that were available to view quite locally from where I was camping.
Narrowing the selection down to Lyme Park was quite simple… Not only was it a thirty-minute drive away (and I wouldn’t have liked to have driven for much longer) but it was listed as being open on Mondays at this time of year and, unlike at least one other property I had considered, there is no entrance fee for National Trust members.
I first enjoyed a very scenic across the Peak District, where you could clearly see how roads now dominate these once natural hills. If you enjoy driving, it’s not a bad place to spend a weekend. As I arrived at the main entrance, turning sharply left and in through the gates, I was greeted at the hut by a very kind and welcoming man who was happy to let me drive on, with a visitor’s map, after he saw my membership card.
If you’re not a member though, I think I read on the board that you have to pay a whopping £7 just to park here!
From the car, it’s a challenging walk steeply up steps until you’re almost immediately greeted by the northern face of the mansion. But for anyone less able, there is a buggy that will carry small groups up and down the hill without charging.
It was hard not to talk directly in to the main courtyard, where I was greeted by another National Trust worker on foot, who informed me of what was available, where and that she would need to store my backpack away securely before I could enter the property.
With some uncertainty in the clouds above, I decided to head out the back and tour the gardens first. That way, I might get to see as much as possibly before any rain fell – by which time, I could always make a dart for the shelter of the house.
Almost straight away and over to my right along the western edge, I found the Italian Garden:
It’s possible to walk down to and around the perimeter of the garden but as I turned left to cross southern side of the house, I was able to admire more of its stature and design. I would later read, from inside the building, that these statues were depictions of ancient mythological gods (I only wish I could remember their names and which was which…).
A grand lake almost completes the rear of the property. With running water nearby and falling at certain points, it creates a pleasant outdoor space to walk in.
Making it to the eastern side and there was The Orangery.
As it would happen, I would later forget to enter and explore this building – my plan was to stop by after viewing the main house but it completely slipped my mind.
Passing a man undertaking conservation work (note the red and white tape, above), I made my way back in to the courtyard and then up steps to a closed set of double doors – not the most inviting of National Trust entrances but, based on the direction I was given about thirty-minutes earlier, I trusted I wasn’t about to tug at a pair of locked doors.
Stepping inside, I was somehow reminded that, while I was enjoying a long weekend, this was simply another Monday to many people. Still, I was impressed that it was so busy. I guess what reminded of me of this reality is the fact that everyone else appeared to be over sixty, with no sign of young parents and kids in tow.
Another enthusiastic member of the National Trust team greeted me and educated me on the brief history of this place and how the great pillars standing behind the entrance doors (sadly, I didn’t get a photo of this) would’ve once marked the original wall location, where the room has since been extended out in to the courtyard. The National Trust, it seems, had installed these pillars to ensure the building remained structurally stable.
In one of these early rooms on the ground floor, I was perhaps most impressed by the wooden ceiling, above.
A little further on and the next room provided what might be considered a ‘Bookworm’s Haven’ of a mini-library.
I found the text, above, on a tray near the kitchen area. It looks like a modern creation but I imagine its words stand as true today as they would’ve been a century ago.
…It could even be interpreted as a reason for everyone to go self-employed…
It wouldn’t have been a National Trust property without a grand staircase.
There was a seated talk taking place at the end of the long gallery and I remembered reading earlier that talks were scheduled to take place through the building and at certain times throughout the day.
In one of the children’s rooms, you could see toys that would’ve entertained the young.
Some not too dissimilar to what someone reading this might have grown up with themselves.
On top of a writing desk in a room further along, I found this text and have felt inclined to include a similar line, somewhere on this blog…
Except, that my ‘penmanship‘ is nowhere near as legible today as it would’ve been two decades ago!
I believe this blanket box was a good three-hundred years old, with a sign advising you not to touch it. I often wonder where my furniture will be and what state it will be in, even one-hundred years from now.
Another bedroom was distinctly dark and Gothic, with wrought iron running all over the ceiling.
That bed was something else entirely. But if you look just beyond, you can see the marble fireplace, sitting out of line…
No-one here appeared to know the true reason why. One theory suggests that the previous floor was unable to bear the weight of the fireplace. While another tale suggests that the fireplace is level and yet, it is the rest of this floor that needs adjusting! One of those rare situations where a spirit level would’ve come in handy for my own satisfaction!
Another room housed a very tall four-poster bed. It’s hard to understand why anyone would need a bed of such height and it would certainly be impractical in today’s world. Perhaps it was purely a measure of one’s stature?
That’s about all I have to share from my time within the house and gardens. But Lyme Park itself is HUGE, covering vary many acres. So, in Part 2, I’ll be writing about and sharing what I found in the grounds that surround the estate.