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HEVERMeet CASTLE Lord Astor in his childhood home

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What sums up Britishness for you? Is it iconic British brands, from Marmite to Mulberry; or famous faces from authors to royals; or our best-loved landmarks from Big Ben to Blackpool Tower? In our revamped back page we ask the Hon Simon Howard, the owner of the magnificent Castle Howard, to share his Best of British – see if you agree with his choices on page 98. For me, the essence of Britishness lies in our countryside, and there are few places where this has remained so little changed as in the Lake District. The last time I visited, however, I was taking part in the Three Peaks Challenge and scrambled up Scafell Pike at the crack of dawn, so for this issue’s Wonderful Weekends feature it was a pleasure to see the Lakes at a more leisurely pace. Read about some of the lovely places I visited in Land of the Lakes on page 39. Also in this issue we’re celebrating the centenary of one of England’s greatest composers, Benjamin Britten, and we discover why his home town of Aldeburgh was so special to him in Sounds of Suffolk on page 87. Jessica Tooze, Acting Editor





to a holidaynnel the Chads Islan











Beautiful vistas and Beatrix Potter

Insider's guide to



Discover Scotland's spectacular gardens

HEVERMeet CASTLE Lord Astor in his childhood home FINAL.indd 1

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Cover image (UK): Crathes Castle gardens © National Trust for Scotland; (US) Hever Castle © David C Phillips/Garden Photo World/Corbis

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We speak to John Jacob Astor VIII, 3rd Baron Astor of Hever, about his memories of growing up in Anne Boleyn's childhood home.


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From colourful rhododendrons on the west coast to carefully landscaped gardens in the grounds of great castles we explore Scotland's extraordinary flora. As the country prepares for the birth of a little prince or princess we take a look back at royal babies over the generations.

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In the third of our new series, Wonderful Weekends, we explore one of the most quintessentially British regions: the Lake District. Some of the most beautiful interiors in London are often passed by. We find out where they are and what makes them so unique.



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Often overlooked, we explore a pocket of the East Midlands that is home to plenty of pretty towns, stately homes and chocolate box vistas.

BRITAIN is the official magazine of VisitBritain, the national tourism agency. BRITAIN is published by The Chelsea Magazine Company Ltd, Jubilee House, 2 Jubilee Place, London SW3 3TQ Tel: 020 7349 3700 Fax: 020 7901 3701 Email:

THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR We follow a trail of chivalry and secrecy to uncover the legacy of a clandestine medieval brotherhood of soldier monks.

Acting Editor Jessica Tooze Acting Assistant Editor Martha Alexander Art Editor Rhian Colley Designer Alicia Fernandes Digital Publisher Simon Temlett Digital Product Manager Terri Eaton

RARE RETREATS From tipis to tree houses and old railway carriages to shepherd's huts, we find some unique places to stay that don't compromise on luxury.

Group Sales Manager Julian Strutt Sales Executives Sam Whiteside, Natasha Syed Group Digital Sales Manager Matt Rayner

SOUNDS OF SUFFOLK Composer Benjamin Britten's work is anchored in the coastal town of Aldeburgh. But what is it about this place that so inspired his musicality?

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The essential round-up of what to see and do, where to go and what to buy during your travels around Britain. Win a luxury holiday to Guernsey and Alderney, courtesy of Vista Hotels. Do get in touch and tell us about your experiences in Britain or let us know what you think of the magazine.


The Hon Simon Howard, owner of the iconic Castle Howard near York, shares a few of his British passions with us.


IN THIS ISSUE Inverewe Garden p14


Rosslyn Chapel p73 Berwick-upon-Tweed p79

News distribution USA and Canada: CMG, LLC/155 Village Blvd/3rd Floor/Princeton, NJ 08540 USA UK and Rest of World: COMAG, Tavistock Road, West Drayton UB7 7QE. Tel: 01895 444055 Fax:01858 445255 BRITAIN (ISSN 0019-3143) (USPS 004-335) is published bi-monthly by The Chelsea Magazine Company, Jubilee House, 2 Jubilee Place, London SW3 3TQ , UK Distributed in the US by Evergreen Marketing, 116 Ram Cat Alley, Suite 201, Seneca, SC 29678-3263 Periodicals postage paid at Seneca, SC and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to BRITAIN, PO Box 569, Selmer, TN 38375-0569 Publications Mail Agreement Number 41599077, 1415 Janette Ave, Windsor, ON N8X 1Z1. Canadian GST Registered Number 834045627 RT0001 The Chelsea Magazine Company Ltd 2013. All rights reserved. Text and pictures are copyright restricted and must not be reproduced without permission of the publishers

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Britain Meets

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Hever Castle, the childhood residence of Anne Boleyn, owes much of its current splendour to William Waldorf Astor, who filled it with treasures. His great grandson talks to us about a magical childhood and his passion for his former home with its fascinating history WORDS AMY LAUGHINGHOUSE





Britain Meets


he idea of upping sticks to live in a castle – particularly one as significant as Hever, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn – would seem a daunting proposition to most. But when John Jacob Astor VIII, 3rd Baron Astor of Hever and the current Under Secretary of State and the Lords Spokesman on Defence, moved to this historic Kentish estate at the age of 17, he wasn’t leaping blindly into unfamiliar territory. Lord Astor’s great-grandfather, the American millionaire William Waldorf Astor, bought and restored the castle in the early 20th century and passed it down to his younger son, John Jacob Astor, 1st Baron Astor of Hever. So to Lord Astor, Hever was, foremost, the home of his grandparents, a comfortable and welcoming hive of familial activity he had visited countless times before he and his siblings came to live here in 1963 with their mother Irene and their father Gavin, the 2nd Baron Astor of Hever and Chairman of the Board of the Times Publishing Company. “It was an exciting place to grow up as a child. It had all kinds of secret passages and miles and miles of cellars where we used to go roller skating,” Lord Astor recalls, settling back on the soft sofa cushions in the sitting room of his present home, a 15-minute drive from the castle. “But we were always aware of the history of the place – you know, Anne Boleyn and the fact that Henry VIII had been there and wooed her there.” The most ancient portion of the castle is the 13th-century gatehouse, and in the 15th century, the Bullen family built a Tudor addition within the walls. It is here that Anne – who changed her last name to Boleyn after a stint in the French court – lived as a young girl, and it is here where Henry VIII came in 1525 to win her heart. Hever is filled with reminders of these formidable figures. Throughout the castle, they gaze out from original Tudor portraits – looking stern and distant, Anne calm and inscrutable behind her famous black eyes. One of these portraits, featuring Anne in her iconic ‘B’ pendant and a French pearl-trimmed hood, hangs in the modest bedroom that is thought to have belonged to her. Another adorns the wall of the Queen’s Gallery, alongside Henry VIII’s other five wives; his brother, Arthur; and father, Henry VII. Two paintings of Henry and Anne’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, preside over the Staircase Gallery. Near Anne’s bedroom, the Book of Hours Room is mostly unfurnished, save for a tapestry illustrating the marriage of Louis XII to Henry VIII’s sister, Mary, and two elaborately illustrated prayer books that belonged to Anne, including, quite poignantly, the one that she is said to have carried to her execution. Years later, when Henry

bequeathed Hever to Anne of Cleves following their rather amicable divorce, this would serve as her bedroom. Despite its importance during Tudor times, the castle had fallen into decline before it found its saviour in the form of William Waldorf Astor. Between 1903 and 1908, Astor worked with architect F L Pearson and a team of hundreds of craftsmen to update the castle, installing electricity, central heating and bathrooms with modern plumbing, and restoring it using the same tools and materials labourers would have employed centuries before. He also diverted the course of a nearby river to accommodate a new 100-room addition, designed to look like a small Tudor village, to house his family, guests and staff. Astor’s vision – and seemingly inexhaustible budget – extended beyond the castle walls, as well. He engaged Joseph Cheal and Son to turn 125 acres into a series of glorious gardens, with an orchard, walled Rose Garden, Yew Maze, and an Italian Garden specially created to display Astor’s priceless collection of Italian sculptures, which he amassed during his appointment as American Ambassador to Italy from 1882-85. To the delight of future generations, Astor also hired 800 men to dig out a 38-acre lake. “The winters were much colder when I lived there, so we used to ice-skate on the lake,” Lord

“It was an excItIng place to grow up as a chIld. It had all kInds of secret passages and mIles and mIles of cellars where we used to go roller skatIng”

Astor remembers. “Then in the summer, there was swimming and boating. I remember we had two rowing boats – Kate and Dupli-Kate,” he adds with a grin. As idyllic as the grounds were – and remain – Lord Astor admits that, as a boy, “it was always quite spooky going into the castle. My oldest cousins would try and terrify me, you know, with ghosts stories, that sort of thing”. Nor was he exempt from perpetrating such shenanigans himself. “A friend of mine got the arm of one of the suits of armour in the Long Gallery and tied it up with a long piece of string, and when one of my sisters walked past, we pulled it. It went down and frightened the life out of her,” he recalls, allowing himself a small smile. The Astors didn’t have free reign of the entire castle, however, as his father took the decision to open Hever to the public in 1963. “He was always very conscious of his fortune and wanted to do something for other people,” Lord Astor says. “He wanted people to see it and enjoy it.” It was also partly a financial decision. “You couldn’t live in a place like that without a huge amount of income. There are 17 miles of central heating pipes. Imagine what the heating bills were like,” he says.

Facing page, top: Looking through the rose arch in the castle gardens. Facing page, bottom: The lake and loggia. Above: William Waldorf Astor britain


The 20th-century wing that William Waldorf Astor built remained the family’s private domain in those days, although it is now open for special functions and for bed-and-breakfast guests. But the public is welcome to tour nearly 20 rooms of the older parts of the castle, as they have done for the past 50 years. Entering via the stone gatehouse, through one of the oldest working portcullises in the country, visitors pass

stone fireplace emblazoned with the Bullen coat of arms. Two sturdy gilt locks – one of which belonged to Henry VIII – are affixed to the doors, which appear more than capable of barring any unwelcome visitors. Any unwelcome visitor, that is, apart from the floodwaters which have twice invaded the castle. The first deluge was in 1958. “My grandfather was taken off to breakfast in a boat down these passages, which were just like the canals in Venice,” Lord Astor recalls. “The butler who rowed him had on a jacket and a black tie – and swimming trunks.” It seems an amusingly incongruous image, but “my grandfather probably didn’t see the funny side of it,” Lord Astor says, shaking his head. “It must have been pretty depressing for him to see everything destroyed like that.” Following an extensive cleanup, life returned to normal. Then an even more devastating flood struck the castle in 1968. Heavy rains caused the River Eden to overflow its banks, sending a surge of water up to 1.4 metres deep through 100 rooms of the castle. “The staff were able to move a lot of the portraits, but it came in so quickly and with such force that lots of valuable books and wonderful manuscripts were damaged,” Lord Astor says. “The water got into the diesel tanks and the sewage, and the worst thing was the smell,” he remembers. “It was just terrible, and it hung around for years. They had to get all the floorboards up, and industrial

historian DaviD starkey DeclareD that hever castle possesses “one of the best collections of tuDor portraits after the national portrait Gallery” through a cobbled courtyard into the timber-framed Bullen addition. Then, turning to the right, one enters the Inner Hall, a grand Tudor-style room overlooked by a carved gallery, added by William Waldorf Astor and inspired by the screen at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge. At eye level, the Italian walnut-panelled walls display portraits of Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Anne Boleyn and her sister Mary – a glimpse of the treasure trove that led historian David Starkey to declare that Hever possesses “one of the best collections of Tudor portraits after the National Portrait Gallery”. William Waldorf Astor also restored the Dining Hall, where the Bullens would have entertained Henry VIII, installing linenfold panelling and a formidable carved



Britain Meets

This picture: Aerial view of Hever Castle. Facing page: The Dining Room



dehumidifying machines were brought in. Lots of things had to go off to be repaired. It was a three-year operation.” The family was forced to relocate from the newer ‘Astor Wing’ to lodgings within the old castle, giving Lord Astor’s father, Gavin, an opportunity to indulge his creative side. “I think he would have loved to be an architect,” Lord Astor says. “He loved designing.” His father’s flair is evidenced by the three cosy bedrooms that he tucked into the eves for his daughters on the top

‘Hever Day’ celebration. “All The Times employees would come down in specially rented trains for huge tea parties and regimental bands,” Lord Astor explains. The walls are filled with photos of some of Hever’s most illustrious guests, including Queen Elizabeth II, and letters from Winston Churchill. “My grandfather was an MP, and Churchill used to like to come to Hever to paint with him,” Lord Astor explains. He says some of the Prime Minister’s paintings of the Italian Garden now hang at Churchill’s country home, Chartwell. In 1983, the Astors’ devoted tenure at Hever finally ended. With the financial pressures of running such a large estate mounting, they sold it to the Guthrie family, who still own it today. “It would have been nice to have the challenges of taking it over and running it, but I’ve had other challenges,” says Lord Astor, who credits his early exposure to the international guests his father hosted at Hever for his lifelong interest in other cultures, which proved formative in his career in government. But he still returns occasionally. Two of his daughters were married at Hever, and he is particularly fond of the musicals and operas that are held outdoors at the castle in the warmer months of the year. “It’s quite romantic looking out over the lake at the swans flying overhead,” he says. “It’s just a special place. I think we were always aware that we were very lucky to live there.”

Lord Astor is pArticuLArLy fond of the musicALs And operAs thAt Are heLd outdoors At hever in the wArmer months floor of the castle. Visitors are welcome to peek into ‘The Kennels,’ as they were dubbed because of their intimate proportions, after passing through the Long Gallery that runs the length of the castle and is filled with portraits of key figures from the Reformation. Just beyond these bedrooms lies the Astor Suite, a wood-panelled study housing a new interactive ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ exhibit, which opened in March this year. Guests can watch the Astors’ rare home movies, depicting happy family moments ice-skating, sledging, and preparing for a hunt; listen to interviews with former below stairs staff talking about life on the estate; marvel at footage of the flooding and listen to Lord Astor’s account of the disaster by picking up a rotary dial telephone; and enjoy a film from 1928 showing the annual



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Scottish Gardens

on a

gr and scale

The dramatic landscapes of Scotland are home to some of Britain’s most spectacular gardens. From swathes of blazing rhododendrons in the north west to the unlikely spectacle of bananas and palm trees on a sheer cliff overlooking the Firth of Clyde, gardens in this wild and wonderful country are unique and unexpected WORDS agnes steVensOn


hen you think of Scotland you might imagine high mountains, deep lochs and moorland covered in heather. Scotland has all of these in abundance, but despite the ruggedness of the countryside, the northern tip of Britain is a paradise for plant lovers and is home to gardens of all types. Cool summers, clean air and high rainfall levels offer the perfect conditions for growing an astonishing range of species from many different corners of the world and this has been harnessed to create a large number of outstanding gardens. The West Coast is famous for its great rhododendron gardens that in spring explode with colour, while in the east of the country there are many finely designed landscapes such as those surrounding the great castles that are strung out along Royal Deeside like precious pearls. This is gardening on a grand scale, set against a landscape of epic proportions, and generations of visionaries have set themselves the challenge of creating gardens here that are as spellbinding as the scenery that surrounds them.



photoS: © attadale/herbert Frei-Schindler/alamy/john bracegirdle/jim henderSon/jeremy Sutton-hibbert/macleod eState


Previous page: Attadale Estate. Clockwise from above: Attadale's giant sundial; colourful herbaceous borders at Crathes Castle; spiky sea holly at Dunvegan Castle gardens; the formal gardens of Mount Stuart; a beautiful lily pond at Attadale



The north west of Scotland is one of the wettest parts of the country and at Attadale in Wester Ross, Nicky MacPherson has harnessed the elements to create a beautiful water garden, with falls that come tumbling off the cliffs and dark, shining lily ponds created by enlarging an old mill-stream. Bridges crisscross the still water and bog-loving plants smother the margins, while around the garden are many fine sculptures, some of them created by Nicky herself. Huge gales that felled large parts of Attadale’s woodland were the catalyst for a fresh approach and today this is a garden filled with surprises, amongst them the giant sundial set within a semicircle of rhododendrons, roses and hydrangeas and the geodesic dome where head gardener Geoff Stephenson houses part of an astonishing collection of ferns. And there is a Japanese garden too, designed as a place of peace and quiet contemplation. Climb to the viewpoint and enjoy the view over Attadale House to Loch Carron and Skye in the distance. From the fairytale turrets of Crathes Castle on Royal Deeside, visitors can look out across one of Scotland’s most celebrated gardens. In summer the double herbaceous borders are a haze of bright colours and in the greenhouses rare Malmaison carnations perfume the air with their sumptuous scent. This is gardening at its most high-maintenance, from the crisp edges of the yew hedging to the eight garden rooms where strict colour-theming is in force. One of the best is the immaculate white border, which predates the famous White Garden at Sissinghurst. Beyond the walled garden lie woodlands and an arboretum, which is home to rare red squirrels and otters. It was on a small hillock in the grounds of Brodie Castle that Macbeth allegedly encountered his three witches. Today visitors to this 16th-century castle near Forres are drawn not for the doomsayers but for the daffodils, which throughout April grow in vast sheets right across the grounds. It was the 24th Brodie of Brodie who bred daffodils here and of the 400 varieties that grow around the castle today, 100 of Major Ian Ashley Brodie’s originals remain.

Scottish Gardens iSLanDS The waters around Scotland contain almost 800 islands, each with its own defining character. They include Iona, the ancient burial place of kings, and the Orkneys, which are strewn with Neolithic monuments and relics of their Viking past. But of all Scotland’s islands, none is as shrouded in mist and romance as Skye. Whitewashed crofts sit under the shadow of the magnificent Cuillin mountain range, while close to the northern tip of the island is Dunvegan Castle which for more than 800 years has been the stronghold of the Chiefs of the Clan MacLeod. The castle itself perches on a rocky precipice above Loch Dunvegan while the gardens are situated on the hillside behind it. There’s a walled garden where roses and old fruit trees are sheltered from the Atlantic gales and, in the woodlands, waterfalls tumble through a series of pools surrounded by rhododendrons, hydrangeas and azaleas. Visit in summer to see Crinodendron, Embrothium and other Chilean species flourishing in the mild environment and don’t leave without catching a glimpse of the Fairy Flag, which was reputedly given to an infant chief by the ‘Wee Folk’ as protection for the clan. Far to the south of Skye, the island of Colonsay bobs on the Atlantic swell like a ship at anchor. Just eight miles long and two miles wide, it has world-class beaches and breathtaking views over the Inner Hebrides. Colonsay House was built in 1722 but it was in the 1930s that the third Lord Strathcona began a programme of landscaping and planting that saw the gardens develop one of the finest collections of rhododendrons in private hands. Next to a well is a carved stone, dedicated to St Oran, which is believed to date from the 7th or 8th century and the lens from the Rhubhal lighthouse on Islay makes a striking centrepiece to the garden. From May until July the machair on Colonsay is in flower. This grassy pasture is unique to the Hebrides and Ireland and it is studded with flowers, including wild orchids. The island of Bute on the Firth of Clyde boasts an astonishing example of Victorian Gothic Revivalism. Everything about Mount Stuart is on a grand scale; including its gardens, which feature woodland walks,



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Scottish Gardens

stretches of shoreline, a Victorian Pinetum and a Rock Garden created by Thomas H Mawson, one of the 19th century’s most celebrated architects. Since then leading garden designers have played a part in creating the striking plantings around the contemporary visitor centre and in redeveloping the huge kitchen garden. At Lea Gardens on Shetland, owner Rosa Steppanova has designed every feature herself, including the many sculptures made from driftwood, fishing nets and other flotsam washed up on the shoreline, which lies just 200m away. This is gardening on the edge and for 30 years Rosa has been rewriting the rulebook on what will survive at the northern-most limit of Scotland.

photoS: © ScottiSh viewpoint/alamy

Above: Culzean Castle on the South Ayrshire coast. Right: Inverewe is famed for its exotic plants, despite being further north than Moscow

HEaDLanDs It is hard to believe that Scottish laird Osgood Mackenzie looked out over the barren, rocky peninsula of Am Ploc Ard in remote Wester Ross and decided that it was the perfect place for a garden. It took a lifetime of endeavour, during which soil was imported, a vast shelterbelt was planted and an extraordinary curving walled garden was created on a raised beach, for that vision to become a reality at Inverewe. But today sub-tropical species flourish on the 58th parallel, the same latitude as Hudson’s Bay and St Petersburg. The woodland is home to 2,500 species of trees and shrubs from around the world and water lilies cover a series of serene ponds. In recent years the garden has enhanced its South African collection and now Kniphofias, Watsonias and Osteospermums flourish.

If you were to throw a stone from the tower of the Castle of Mey it would land in the Pentland Firth, that wild stretch of water that separates Scotland from Orkney. The castle is the most northerly garden on the mainland and it was just a ruin when the late Queen Mother sighted it from the Royal Yacht Britannia and set about restoring it. The Shell Garden, with its climbing roses, pansies and nasturtiums would become her favourite spot and today visitors can buy produce from the vegetable garden and enjoy the smells, textures, tastes and colours of the beautiful Sensory Border. Meanwhile the Diamond Jubilee Rose Garden, which was planted to mark the tenth anniversary of her death, is now beginning to flourish. britain




open: 1 April - 15 october 10Am - 5.30pm (lAst entry 5pm) 16 october - 31 mArch open by Appointment dunvegan Castle, isle of skye iV55 8Wf t: +44 (0) 1470 521206 e: FINAL Dunvegan A3 FV 2013.indd 1

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open: 1 April - 15 october 10Am - 5.30pm (lAst entry 5pm) 16 october - 31 mArch open by Appointment dunvegan Castle, isle of skye iV55 8Wf t: +44 (0) 1470 521206 e: open: open: 1 April 1 April - 15 october - 15 october 10Am10Am - 5.30pm - 5.30pm (lAst (lAst entry entry 5pm)5pm) 16 october 16 october - 31 mArch - 31 mArch open open by Appointment by Appointment dunvegan dunvegan Castle, Castle, isle isle of skye of skye iV55 iV55 8Wf 8Wf t: +44 t:(0) +44 1470 (0) 1470 521206 521206 e: e:

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photoS: © alamy/alan wright

Scottish Gardens

Above: Dawyck botanic garden is particularly suitable for hardy plants from the world's cooler areas

Culzean Castle in Ayrshire sits astride a sheer cliff overlooking the Firth of Clyde. Behind this magnificent Robert Adam mansion lie 565 acres of landscaped parkland including a sunken garden, a fountain garden with bananas and palm trees, a camellia house filled with tender treasures and a huge walled garden flanked by a restored Victorian greenhouse where grapes hang from productive vines. The first Marquess of Ailsa oversaw the planting of five million trees and today the woodlands remain one of Culzean’s many glories.

WOODLanDs Carved out of beech woods in a valley to the south of the Tweed lies one of Scotland’s best woodland gardens. For

more than 300 years successive owners have planted trees on Dawyck’s slopes, at times financing plant hunters to secure them the newest introductions that during the 18th and 19th centuries were emerging from China and North America. Over the centuries Dawyck, which is now an outpost of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, has grown into an extraordinary arboretum containing some of the country’s oldest and most beautiful trees. In spring the Azalea Terrace is awash with scent and in autumn the Beech Walk gives views over the canopy as it takes on its magnificent colours. And at all times the Scrape Burn, a cool mountain stream, burbles over falls and under bridges on its way to the Tweed. In early spring the woodland floor at Cambo House near St Andrews is an almost seamless blanket of white as britain


Scottish Gardens

snowdrops emerge from beneath the litter of last autumn’s leaves to scent the air with their delicate perfume. The Erskine family has for generations planted snowdrops at Cambo but it is the current Lady Erskine who has cemented the estate’s reputation as an unmissable destination for ‘galanthophiles’. In February the Snowdrops by Starlight Festival works a magical transformation on the woodlands, illuminating the trees and streams that surround the 70 acres of snowdrops. And if you thought every snowdrop was identical, the National Collection of 300 different varieties will open your eyes to the startling diversity of the natural world. Scotland provides the ideal habitat for many plants from across the globe, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that this small country has produced the greatest concentration of plant hunters in the world. At The Explorers Garden the feats of men like Robert Fortune, Archibald Menzies and Francis Masson, whose names are immortalised in some of our favourite plants, are celebrated in a woodland setting above the Pitlochry Festival Theatre. The garden is packed with many rare and beautiful plants but its most outstanding feature is the pavilion made from many different kinds of wood, with a roof that represents a folded leaf and balcony like the bow of a ship; it was designed as a tribute to David Douglas whose contribution to botany continues to influence our gardens and landscapes.

 For more information on the gardens mentioned in this feature


J Attadale is open from Apr to Oct. J Crathes Castle is open all year. Crathes-Castle-Garden-Estate J Brodie Castle grounds are open daily all year. uk/Property/Brodie-Castle J Dunvegan Castle is open from 29 Mar to 15 Oct. www. J Colonsay House woodland gardens are open all year round. J Mount Stuart gardens are open daily.

J Lea Gardens' blog is at: J Inverewe is open 1 Nov to 31 Mar. Inverewe-Garden-Estate J Culzean Castle gardens are open year round. www. J Dawyck is open from Feb to Oct. the-gardens/dawyck J Cambo Estate gardens are open daily. J The Explorers Garden is open from Mar to Nov.

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Above: Aerial view of Cambo Estate, showing the house, woodlands and walled garden. Right: The pavilion in The Explorers Garden

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Discover how this pioneering mathematician helped shape our modern world. Free entry Call 0870 870 4868 to plan your visit South Kensington

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We round up our favourite upcoming events, exhibitions, concerts and attractions, as well as our pick of the best British buys


'TIS NATURE'S VOICE The Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music begins on 10 May at St John’s Smith Square and its annual visit to Westminster Abbey on 15 May offers a chance to hear two odes by the abbey’s former organist Purcell, including the Ode for St Cecilia’s Day, which explores the natural origins of music. BOOK NOW AT WWW.SJSS.ORG.UK OR CALL THE BOX OFFICE ON 020 7222 1061



festival at the palace The complete line-up of performers for this year’s Hampton Court Palace Festival on 13 to 24 June features rock, pop, jazz and classical music artists from Russell Watson to Amore. For up-to-date announcements register on



THE WHaT To do ● WHErE To go ● WHaT To buy

NoNseNsical oxford weekeNd Celebrate alice in Wonderland with free events at oxford's annual alice's day ‘Nonsense’ is the theme for this year’s Alice’s Day, which takes place in Oxford on 6 July. More than 20 historic locations are participating (including the Ashmolean Museum, the Bodleian Library and Christ Church), to celebrate the first telling of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

buy a bit of britain to brighten up your wall time of your life one of the most successful shows of all time, the West End hit dirty dancing , is set to make its newcastle debut with a four-week run at the Theatre royal next summer. It first opened in London in 2006 and broke all box office records as the fastest ever selling West End show. It makes for a fabulous live experience, exploding with music and emotion. Fall in love with Johnny all over again and immerse yourself in favourite hits from the long hot summer of 1963. Tickets are on sale now for the show on 6-31 May 2014. Call the Theatre royal box office on 08448 112121 or visit

Easyart, based in Sussex, has some fantastic collections from a range of artists and designers. The prints and canvases can be custom sized and framed. We love these British-themed prints by Bridget Davies, Blanca Gomez and Yoni Alter. 0845 1662 732;

EdITor'S PICkS – aFTErnoon TEa The Cadogan hotel has introduced a new afternoon tea in association with Partridges, royal Warrant holders as grocers to The Queen. The tea features delicious sandwiches, homebaked scones and pastries and includes a Chelsea bun, which was first made in the 18th

century at the famous old bun House near grosvenor row. you can also try a special tea blend created by Partridges to coincide with the centenary year of the rHS

Chelsea Flower Show. The Chelsea Flower blend is a China tea with marigold flowers, featuring summery and fruity flavours of mango and apple.

The Hambrough, the Isle of Wight’s only Michelinstarred restaurant, enjoys spectacular views of the sea. Chef robert Thompson has designed a sumptuous array of

scrumptious treats to savour with your choice of fragrant teas from a carefully selected tea menu, as well as an indulgent glass of champagne. britain


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for book worms the 56th London International antiquarian book Fair will take place in the National exhibition hall at olympia. running from 13-15 June the fair will coincide with the second weekend of the olympia International Fine art & antiques Fair, which will be held next door in the grand hall. It offers first and rare editions in all areas of literature, the humanities and science, and welcomes visitors who are not regular collectors.

save our magnificent meadows Wildflower meadows and grasslands are threatened habitats For the first time ever, Plantlife is launching a unique project that will see a number of charities and councils across the UK joining forces in a bid to save Britain’s wildflower meadows and grasslands, which are rapidly declining and under serious threat. Nearly 7.5 million acres have been lost so far and, once gone, they are irreplaceable. Get involved at

ProPaganda: Power and Persuasion a new major exhibition at the british Library explores how people have used propaganda during the 20th and 21st centuries, in peace-time and in war From 17 May to 17 September a selection of propaganda leaflets dropped on occupied territories by the allied powers during WWII will be on display. acquired by the british Library from the Foreign office during the war, these leaflets have never been shown to the public before – despite being scattered in large numbers, the leaflets were treated as secret documents in britain at the start of the war. each leaflet, dropped on France, germany and Italy, contains its own often inventive message encouraging civilian resistance and urging armed forces to surrender.

scent of nature Made in England using fragrance extracts from British fruits, flowers and plants, this range of candles from the National Trust comes in four divine scents. www.




BRITTEN CENTENARY A new edition of the acclaimed book Benjamin Britten by David Matthews has been published as part of the celebrations to mark the centenary of the composer's birth. One of the most outstanding musicians of the 20th century, Britten is famous for the operas performed by his own English Opera Group and for his affinity with his home town of Aldeburgh in Suffolk (see our feature on page 87). Matthews, as a fellow composer and life-long friend of Britten, writes an affectionate biography for every fan.

SHOW-STOPPING GARDENS FOR ALL AGES The Holker Garden Festival celebrates its 21st anniversary this June The Holker Garden Festival in south Cumbria returns with a three-day summer spectacle from 31 May to 2 June, showcasing the very best of gardening, the countryside, food and crafts. Hosted by Lord and Lady Cavendish and set in the beautiful Holker Parkland, the festival promises an exciting blend of attractions. Visit the website at or call 015395 58838.

THE HOME OF CRICKET Open again after recent refurbishment, the MCC Museum at Lord's is a must for any cricket lover. The museum contains a wide range of exhibits, but is best known for being the home of The Ashes. Created in 1883, The Ashes urn was given to the England cricket captain, the Hon Ivo Bligh, after his side had triumphed against Australia in the 1882-83 series and bequeathed to MCC on his death. Other popular attractions include the stuffed sparrow that was 'bowled out' by Jehangir Khan in 1936 (pictured left), and the copy of Wisden that helped to sustain EW 'Jim' Swanton throughout his captivity in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during the Second World War.

OWN A PIECE OF HISTORY Unique British Gifts have a range of products created from oak and copper reclaimed from Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory. 01925 242111; www.uniquebritish

EDITOR'S PICKS – THEATRE Marking a triumphant return from a ten-year absence, D’Oyly Carte Opera Company bursts back onto the stage with an historic collaboration with Scottish



Opera taking an all-singing, all-dancing, production of The Pirates of Penzance on an extended UK tour following its premiere at Theatre Royal

Glasgow on 15 May. This production draws on D’Oyly Carte’s century-long Gilbert and Sullivan relationship, resulting in a vibrant and hilarious romp through one of the duo’s finest

scores. www. Following a sell-out run at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Merrily We Roll Along by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth transfers to

the Harold Pinter Theatre for 12 weeks from 23 April to 27 July. Set over three decades in the entertainment business, the musical charts the turbulent relationship between three friends, starting in 1980 and travelling backwards in time.

If calling Britain from overseas, dial your international code, then 44, and drop the first zero ●


Try traditional Indian foods prepared and cooked by our head chef and his team who are all highly experienced in Indian cuisine. All of our dishes are freshly prepared with natural ingredients, ranging from street food, to the more extravagant and unusual, we guarantee this will be a food experience not to be missed.

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As the country prepares to celebrate the birth of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first child, we look back at four generations of royal births and babies WORDS Camilla Tominey


he Queen is naturally delighted at the prospect of becoming a great-grandmother for the third time this summer. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s baby might be the world’s most eagerly anticipated newborn, but for the Royal Family the new arrival will have an added poignancy. For Her Majesty especially, it is far more personal than merely signalling a new era for the House of Windsor. Having largely missed out on seeing her grandchildren growing up because of spending half of each year abroad, The Queen, at 87, finally has more quality time to spend with the newest members of her family. Of course she works every day, but now foreign tours are few and far between and confined to a week at most. She also spends most weekends at Windsor Castle, her ‘home’ (as opposed to her ‘office’ at Buckingham Palace), where there is a constant stream of visitors to see ‘Granny’. The Earl and Countess of Wessex’s children Lady Louise Windsor, nine, and James, Viscount Severn, five, are The Queen’s youngest grandchildren and are so often to be found at Windsor

that staff have grown quite used to stepping over the children’s tricycles in the hallway. While both she and The Duke of Edinburgh may have appeared aloof as parents, opting to go on lengthy tours without their very young children, The Queen’s parents were very hands-on thanks to George VI being ‘the spare to the heir’ rather than king when they were bringing up the young princesses before Edward VIII’s abdication. Elizabeth and Bertie, as they were then known, were thoroughly modern parents for their time. Utterly devoted to Elizabeth and Margaret, they played with their daughters, bathed them and read them bedtime stories, rather than being overly reliant on nannies (although Marion ‘Crawfie’ Crawford would later prove to be a formidable force as the princesses’ governess). The Queen’s sense of purpose, even at a very young age, did not go unnoticed, not least by her father who is said to have compared her to Queen Victoria. He observed to the writer Osbert Sitwell one evening: “From the first moment of talking, she showed so much character that it was impossible not to wonder whether history would repeat itself.” Winston Churchill wrote in his diary after staying at Balmoral as a guest of King George and Queen Mary in September 1928: “There is no one here at all, except the family, the household and Princess Elizabeth – aged two. The latter is a character. She has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant.” When she became a mother herself The Queen showed the pride of any first-time mother in letters she wrote a month after Prince Charles was born on 14 November 1948. “The baby is very sweet, and Philip and I are so enormously proud of him,” she gushed in a handwritten note to her second cousin, Lady Mary Cambridge. “I still find it hard to believe I have a baby of my own!” she

The Queen’s youngest grandchildren are so often to be found at Windsor that staff have grown quite used to stepping over the children’s tricycles in the hallway

Royal Britain

photoS: all imageS Š preSS aSSociation

Facing page: The Duchess of Cambridge visits Hope House treatment centre at 19 weeks pregnant. This page: The Duke and Duchess on their wedding day



exclaimed. The birth of Charles, a future king, shortly after the end of the Second World War was a great boost to the Royal Family and the country. In another letter to the same recipient in 1960, The Queen spoke in equally affectionate terms about the birth of Prince Andrew, often said to be her favourite child and the baby she ‘had for herself’. “The baby is adorable, and is very good and is putting on weight well,” she enthused to Lady Mary. “Both the older children are completely riveted by him and, all in all, he’s going to be terribly spoilt by all of us, I’m sure!” The birth of The Queen’s first grandchild, Peter Phillips, on 15 November 1977 took the Royals into new territory. Princess Anne did not want Peter or her daughter Zara, born four years later, to have titles so he was therefore the first legitimate grandchild of a monarch to be born without a title or courtesy style for more than 500 years. The quest for ‘normality’ for the royal babies continued in earnest for the births of Princes William and Harry, in 1982 and 1984 respectively. This has often been credited solely to their mother Princess Diana but Prince Charles also played his part. Having hated boarding at the remote Scottish school Gordonstoun so



Royal Britain

Clockwise from top left: The then Princess Elizabeth stands with her husband Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, and their children Prince Charles and Princess Anne at the couple's London residence Clarence House in 1951; Prince Charles and Princess Diana pose for a family portrait with their sons Prince William and Prince Harry at Kensington Palace; The Duchess of York with Princess Beatrice aged 18 weeks; Princess Margaret and The Earl of Snowdon relax with their children in 1965; The Duke and Duchess of York with their daughter Princess Elizabeth; Prince Edward, fourth child of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, grips the finger of his brother, four-year-old Prince Andrew, as The Queen bends over the baby's crib

DID YOU KNOW? J Anne Boleyn's chamber was beautifully decorated with tapestries before the birth of her daughter, the future Elizabeth I. None featured animal or human motifs though lest they gave the ill-fated second wife of Henry VIII nightmares that could, it was feared, result in a 'deformed' child being born. J Queen Victoria hated breastfeeding and thought newborn babies were ugly. This didn't stop her from having a total of nine children. It was during the birth of her son Leopold, in 1853, that she first used chloroform. Her approval of the anaesthetic paved the way for London's elite to use it during childbirth. J Prince William, who was born in 1982, was the first royal baby to wear disposable nappies. J Prince Philip played squash with three courtiers while The Queen – then Princess Elizabeth – was giving birth to Prince Charles. J King Henry IV is thought to be the youngest

monarch to ever father a child – at 15 years old. J Modern royal babies were usually born in Buckingham Palace, until the birth of Prince Willliam when Princess Diana broke with tradition and gave birth to her first son at St Mary's Hospital in central London. Prince Harry was also born there in 1984. J The birth of a royal baby is usually marked by a 41-gun salute as well as a Notice of Royal Births and Deaths being attached to the railings outside of Buckingham Palace. J The top layer of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding cake will be eaten as part of the celebrations after the christening of their baby. It is a very rich and dark traditional fruitcake. J Historically, the Home Secretary had to stand outside the delivery room during a royal birth to make sure babies weren't switched over. However, this hasn't been deemed necessary since 1936 so won't be the case this summer.



BOOK YOUR PLACE IN HISTORY Why not stay the night? We can offer you and your family a unique opportunity to relax and unwind in one of our holiday cottages set in the heart of some of England’s most historic sites. After the crowds have gone you will be free to explore the gardens and grounds, enjoy stunning views or simply soak up the atmosphere. Whether you are looking for a bedroom in a turret, battlefield views or a chance to take an evening stroll along Queen Victoria’s private beach, we can make it a holiday to remember. Book your place in history today. Call us on 0870 333 1187 or visit

Royal Britain

The quest for ‘normality’ for the royal babies continued in earnest for the births of Princes William and Harry, in 1982 and 1984 respectively. This has often been credited solely to their mother Princess Diana but Prince Charles also played his part much he likened it to “Colditz in kilts”, Charles was more than happy to follow his wife’s lead in choosing to educate their sons closer to home – at Ludgrove preparatory school in Berkshire and then Eton College in Windsor. In fact, The Queen Mother, who favoured Charles above all her grandchildren – had wanted that for the young prince himself, fearing him too sensitive to be packed off to the Highlands. It was precisely for this reason that Philip sent him to the school he had attended as a boy in the hope it would give his eldest son much-needed confidence. Although Charles was a hands-on parent as far as was possible given his role, it was Diana who ultimately called the shots when it came to the children. According to an aide: “Charles could never understand why Diana wanted to take the boys out for burgers or to theme parks because he had never done it as a child. But Diana just wanted them to be as normal as possible.”

Top right: A portrait of Zara and Peter Phillips, children of Princess Anne and her husband, Captain Mark Phillips. This picture: The Countess of Wessex and her son James, Viscount Severn watch the rowing finals at Eton Dorney during the Paralympic Games

While Diana may have had a difficult birth with William, a 16-hour labour, it was nothing compared to what Sophie Wessex endured to have her first child. Having previously suffered an ectopic pregnancy, she nearly died giving birth to her daughter Louise after suffering a placental abruption, necessitating an emergency caesarian section. James was subsequently born by caesarian too, to avoid any further complications. Of course it is still not known how The Duchess plans to have her baby, or indeed where, but one thing is certain – there will be a wealth of wisdom on hand from royal mothers (and fathers) both young and old on how best to bring up Baby Cambridge.

8 Camilla Tominey is the Royal Editor of the Sunday Express and contributed to our limited edition Elizabeth The Queen: Diamond Jubilee Souvenir Magazine. Copies can still be purchased from the BRITAIN website at BRITAIN





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Wonderful Weekends

Wonderful weekends


We head to the Lake District to share the very best of what to do with 48 hours in this magnificent mountainous region, from exploring the great outdoors to following the trail of Beatrix Potter WORDS JESSICA TOOZE


The Lake District

photoS: Š AShley Cooper/CorBIS/AlAmy/InCAmerAStoCk/mArk BASSett/IStoCk/

This serene land attracts people from far and wide who fall for its rugged beauty and changeable charms



Wonderful Weekends


he Lake District, probably England’s most famous and picturesque national park, harks back to a time of generations past; its villages are small and the people friendly, narrow lanes wind through pastoral countryside where lambs gambol and streams gurgle, and hulking monuments to modern life – petrol stations, supermarkets and shopping centres – are nowhere to be found. This serene land, marked only by ancient low walls and flint farm buildings huddled in the shadow of steep fells, has inspired some of our best-loved authors and attracts people from far and wide who fall for its rugged beauty and changeable charms. For our taste of the Lakes we start at easily accessible Windermere, where England’s largest lake at 10.5 miles draws the majority of holidaymakers. While the snow still covers the lofty peaks of the Old Man of Coniston to the west and before the tourists descend en masse in the summer this is without doubt a jewel of the Lake District – as famous local

William Wordsworth once said: “none of the other lakes unfold so many fresh beauties”. The small towns of Windermere, Bowness and Ambleside to the north east attract the most visitors, but to see the true beauty of this magnificent water you’ll need to get out onto the lake itself, on a traditional launch or steamer, or, if you’re feeling energetic, on a kayak or canoe – both provide wonderful ways to take in the views and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the water. Off to the southern and western reaches of the lake there are often more sheep than people and some wonderful waterside walks to enjoy. For simply awe-inspiring views of Lake Windermere and the mountains behind it, head to one of the many hotels that dot the eastern side of the water. We stayed at Holbeck Ghyll, a five minute drive from Windermere town, so named because of the picturesque ravine (ghyll) with its dashing waterfall that runs like a slash through the sloping grounds. The atmosphere here is friendly and

relaxed – you can bring your dog and curl up in front of one of the cosy log fires. Bedrooms are of varying appeal but if you manage to book one with a lake view, you will hardly notice anything but that spectacular panorama down to Windermere. When you drift off to sleep, you’ll be lulled by the sound of the falls below.

PLACES TO STAY HOLBECK GHYLL ( costs from £390 for dinner, bed and breakfast with a suite room in low season. If you're a fine-dining fanatic you'll be pleased to know the hotel’s restaurant has been Michelin-starred for 12 years and while dinner service is slow and served in two dark wood-panelled dining rooms, the French take on local Lakeland ingredients is well worth sampling. GILPIN LAKE HOUSE ( costs from £500 for dinner, bed and breakfast and includes complimentary use of the in-house spa and a chauffeur to drive you to and from the main hotel in the evening.

Facing page: Horse grazing in a field under Whiteside fell. This page, clockwise from top left: Canoeing on Lake Windermere; Hill Top; walkers' sign to Hawkshead Village; view of Windermere from Ambleside



Actress Renée Zellweger stayed at Holbeck Ghyll while filming Miss Potter and the legacy of the popular author is very evident in this part of north-west England where she spent her childhood holidays and drew inspiration for her countryside characters. A visit to Hill Top, the farmhouse she purchased with the proceeds of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, is easy to reach from the eastern side of Lake Windermere via the eponymous ferry. This has been operating for more than 500 years and takes people, vehicles, horses and cycles across the lake from Bownesson-Windermere to Far Sawrey. Hill Top, now owned by the National Trust and open to visitors, marked a turning point in Beatrix Potter’s life, the start of her deep interest in farming and of her lifelong concern for the preservation and care of the land. The Tale of Tom Kitten

clearly takes place in the house and garden here and visitors today can wander the vegetable patch with its neat rows of lettuce and cabbage where it’s easy to imagine Peter Rabbit’s tail disappearing inside a rusty watering can. You can explore inside the house itself too, which is a treasure trove for the Potter enthusiast and filled with her belongings. Nothing is roped or screened off so you can nose around the author’s cherished possessions to your heart’s content in what is a very personal experience. The Tale of Mr Jeremy Fisher, meanwhile, is set on nearby Esthwaite Water, a lovely 280-acre lake situated between its much larger and betterknown siblings of Windermere and Coniston Water. As Mr Fisher discovers on his lily-pad, the largest stocked trout water in Cumbria is wonderful for fishing. To the north is the village of Hawkshead where the

This page, clockwise from above: Hawkshead; the church at Hawkshead; Holbeck Ghyll Hotel; afternoon tea at Holbeck Ghyll



photoS: © SuperStock/corBIS/alamy/john morrISon

You can explore inside Hill Top, which is a treasure trove for the Beatrix Potter enthusiast

Wonderful Weekends

Beatrix Potter Gallery is celebrating the centenary of Potter’s wedding and to the west is 6,000-acre Grizedale Forest, which is a popular walking and mountain biking destination with its dense wooded hills of conifers, dotted with small tarns. Scattered throughout the forest are around 90 sculptures, started by the Grizedale Society in 1977. We decided to search out some of the less-seen ones on horseback and set off from Grizedale Riding Centre at Bowkerstead Farm on a wonderful and peaceful hack up some steep trails, the views on either side stretching over the forest towards distant mountains. There is water everywhere here. Underfoot the springy ground is heavy with moist moss, springs gush from high hills and jump down towards the valleys in tumbling

waterfalls, and fast-flowing streams rush towards those great tarns that give this land its name. And it falls from the sky too – when the rest of England is dry and parched under a hosepipe ban, the Lake District is lush and verdant and after a mere two weeks with no rain the locals look for clouds and mutter that they’re sure to be due a deluge soon. But for the many visitors who come to the Lakes to enjoy the great outdoors, the weather is no hindrance, and rain or shine there are endless ways to explore this landscape, dotted with long snaking lakes, forested valleys and the country’s highest mountains. You can hire a bicycle and test yourself against the undulating countryside, or set out on the kind of wonderful walk, ramble or climb that this area is famous for, with routes from a lazy stroll to a strenuous scramble suitable for every ability. The birthplace of British fell walking and

Springs gush from high hills, jumping down towards valleys in tumbling waterfalls

Above: A view of the Lake District's undulating hills. Left, above: Gilpin Hotel Lake House. Left, below: Bedroom in Gilpin Hotel britain


Wonderful Weekends

Lake Windermere at sunset

to mention a brand new spa. It offers a warm and friendly retreat where you can relax with a treatment in the privacy of your suite before the chauffeur arrives to drive you the mile or so to the main hotel for dinner. The Lake House also boasts lovely gardens with a path round the tarn and magnificent walks right up to the viewpoint ‘Cat’s Crag’ that offers 360-degree vistas of the glorious green countryside. Whatever your itinerary or reason for visiting this stunning pocket of England – the lure of these quiet hills and deep, still lakes is quite irresistible; you will yearn to return the second you leave. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Set out on a wonderful walk, ramble or climb, with routes suitable for all



 For more on the Lake District and the places we mention here visit the BRITAIN website at

ITINERARY Windermere Ferry runs regularly throughout the year and costs 50p for a single pedestrian journey or £4.30 for a car. Hill top costs £8.50 for adults and the house is full of Beatrix Potter’s favourite things, appearing as if the author had just stepped out for a walk. beatrix potter Gallery costs £4.80 for an adult and £2.40 for a child and offers lovely exhibitions of Potter's original drawings and watercolours. It was previously the office of her husband William Heelis. beatrix-potter-gallery ramblers CountryWide Holidays have a leisurely week-long walking holiday

embracing the Lake District’s famous authors including Beatrix Potter. www.ramblersholidays. Grizedale Forest has a host of activities for the adventure enthusiast. Grizedale ridinG Centre is based at Bowkerstead, a traditional working farm and campsite on the edge of the forest where all the horses have been rescued. A one-hour ride costs £25. www.cumbriahorseriding drunken duCk inn and restaurant offers lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. To the rear of the traditional Lakeland building, the inn also has rooms from £150 B&B. www.

phoTo: © IsTock

mountaineering still draws thousands of people here, looking to absorb the fabulous scenery on foot. But after you have exhausted yourself with the variety of outdoor pursuits the Lakes has to offer, home comforts are not hard to find. We had the most delicious traditional Sunday roast at wellknown gastro pub the Drunken Duck Inn, about 2.5 miles from Hawkshead, while in the charming village itself, the Sun Cottage Café attracts tourists and locals alike with the gigantic strawberry-covered chocolate cake displayed in the window. For true pampering and indulgence, head to the family-owned Gilpin Hotel & Lake House where six individual suites share a delightful boutique-style hotel with sauna, swimming pool and private tarn, not


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The Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railway is one of the oldest and longest narrow gauge railways in England, known affectionately as La’al Ratty meaning “little railway“. It was 100 years ago in April 1913 that the original 3 foot line closed and in 1915 the new 15 inch La’al Ratty was born. Climb aboard to find out more!

Ullswater ‘Steamers’ have been sailing on England’s most beautiful lake for over 150 years and operate one of the largest heritage fleets in the world. Today, our vessels provide idyllic views of the surrounding mountains and fells, connecting you to some of the most famous and spectacular walking routes in the Lake District National Park.

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London Transport Museum celebrates 150 years of the London Underground

. Exhibition: Poster Art 150 – London Underground’s Designs . Greatest Underground 150 Pioneers trail .. Steam train runs, tours, talks and Friday Lates Exclusive gifts available in the Museum shop and online Open daily / admission charged (KIDS GO FREE)

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WIN a perfect holiday to the islands of Guernsey and Alderney, staying in two four-star hotels each promising idyllic views and total relaxation


owhere makes for a better place to escape to than an island, which is why the opportunity to visit two, and stay in a luxury hotel on each as part of one brilliant trip, is really not to be missed. Enter our fabulous competition to win a twin-island break to the Channel Islands of Guernsey and Alderney and this holiday could be yours. The prize includes UK and inter-island flights and five nights in four-star accommodation, staying in a luxury Vista Hotel on each island. A lucky winner and guest will take the short flight with Aurigny (, the islander’s airline, from any of the six airports it serves and fly first to Guernsey, before travelling to Alderney a few days later. The islands offer superb accommodation and restaurants. You will stay at the Fermain Valley Hotel on Guernsey and Braye Beach Hotel on Alderney; both make for wonderfully indulgent experiences. These two magnificent hotels pride themselves on their level of luxury and personal approach to service and you’ll feel the stresses and strains of everyday living melting away from the moment you are welcomed through their doors.

hoW to eNteR To win a wonderful Channel Island holiday to Guernsey and Alderney, simply answer the question below and send the coupon to the address provided. Alternatively, enter via the BRITAIN website: The closing date is 31 July 2013. Question: Which of these animals is Guernsey famous for? a) Horse b) Hedgehog c) Cow

NOT A WINNER? Experience a twin-island break with Vista from only £531 per person. For more information or to make a booking please visit or FREEPHONE 0800 316 0314 quoting BRITAIN MAGAZINE.

VisTa HoTeLs The Fermain Valley Hotel is perched atop one of Guernsey’s prettiest valleys with views down to the sea over a tranquil green canopy. Set in several acres of landscaped gardens, its facilities include two excellent restaurants, an indoor pool and sauna, private 3D cinema, an elegant lounge with open fire and an intimate library – perfect for tucking yourself away and enjoying some quiet time with a good book.

the prize must be redeemed by 31 December 2013 and is subject to availability. the prize is a three-night stay for two at Fermain Valley hotel and two nights at Braye Beach hotel, in a silver room with full english breakfast. inclusive of return aurigny flights to Guernsey and alderney. Further terms and conditions apply.

Vista hotels CoMPetitioN eNtRY FoRM seND YoUR CoUPoN to: Vista hotels Competition, BRitaiN magazine, the Chelsea Magazine Company, Jubilee house, 2 Jubilee Place, london sW3 3tQ , UK. or to: Vista hotels Competition, BRitaiN magazine, 116 Ram Cat alley, suite 201, seneca, sC 29678 Usa. My answer: Name: address: Postcode:

Very few hotels in the UK have a view to surpass the Braye Beach Hotel in Alderney. It is a true get-away-from-it-all destination and literally on the beach! From the moment you arrive, you sink into Alderney time. The exterior decked areas of the hotel provide a comfortable haven from where you can sit back, relax and enjoy the breathtaking view – ideal for those days when you are feeling less energetic.

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In 2013, as the Jewel In The Crown of the British Applied Arts celebrates her own Centenary a Coronation Collection is born… In Moorcroft’s Centenary year, the English art pottery has decided to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Her Majesty’s Coronation with a dress design that saw her married to her nation from Moorcroft Design Studio member, Nicola Slaney. For the most important outfit of her reign, and what was essentially a second wedding dress, Queen Elizabeth returned to the man who made her first and would shape her look for decades to come: Sir Norman Hartnell. With instructions to create a regal gown for the ages, Hartnell began a back-andforth design process with the Queen. Pure white was not favoured; form-fitting sheaths were discarded in favour of less body-conscious options; simplicity was rejected in favour of symbolism from around the United Kingdom, which was



in turn rejected in favour of symbolism from all around the Commonwealth. This design process is not unlike that of Moorcroft today. A company dedicated to the fine craftsmanship with its very own Museum, the art pottery celebrates the very best surface designs and shapes to emerge over the last centenary. In the spirit of couture design, Moorcroft continues to make each piece entirely by hand from start to finish in England for collectors around the world. Hartnell’s dress was encrusted with crystals, seed pearls and diamanté and painstakingly embroidered with silk and gold thread. Armed with the Moorcroft ‘jewelled’ colour palette the Moorcroft designer has captured the very soul of Hartnell’s glorious work.











The South African protea is the centerpiece for Nicola’s protea emulates the golden globe of Nicola’s triumphant prestige vase, Jubilation. the Commonwealth flag surrounded by 61 Hartnell embroidered the protea in his original radiating spears. Fortunately for Moorcroft JUBILATION (Limited Edition 100) collection with pink silk with green silk leaves collectors, the vase is not grounded in somber £1,650 and silver outlined petals. Glistening in vibrant blue but dances with all the other colours and emblems of the Commonwealth in a triumphant symphony of movement Moorcroft colours, the smoldering ambers and golden heart of the protea truly announce the regal origin of the design. With spear-shaped petals, and colour.

For 2013, Moorcroft is proud to introduce The Coronation Collection to mark Her Majesty, The Queen’s phenomenal sixty-year reign, echoing the colour and diverse vibrancy of our British and Commonwealth heritage. These pieces of art pottery are more than just commemorative items. From their inception, they all form part of our rich cultural heritage in the world of the applied arts.

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London Interiors

Unseen TREASURES We speak to Philip Davies, author of London: Hidden Interiors, and explore some of the capital's hidden gems, from the grandeur of the Supreme Court to the less likely but just as impressive interior of The Black Friar pub WORDS Martha alexander



Eltham palacE Court Yard, Eltham, SE9 5QE This English Heritage property dates back to 1305, when it was gifted to Edward II by the Bishop of Durham. It was used as a venue for the royal family to entertain the likes of Sigismund, the Holy Roman Emperor, and the Dutch philosopher, Erasmus. It later fell into a decline and was a tenanted farm by the end of the 19th century. By 1933, Stephen and Virginia Courtauld had bought the building and paid a great deal of money to have the Great Hall restored and a new home attached to it. “It’s an extraordinary juxtaposition of one of the finest medieval halls in the country but it has remarkable interiors from the 1930s,” explains Davies. “The house has been so authentically restored that the interior is much more impressive than the exterior. This is thanks to the craftsmanship, and the fact that the rooms were designed in styles that were popular at the time. Internally the house is a time capsule of art deco finishes.” Such a rare building has a bounty of quirky history and each room tells a different story. From the circular entrance hall, with wooden panels showing a strong modern Swedish influence, to Virginia Courtauld’s bathroom with its opulent gold mosaic niche or the living area dedicated entirely to her lemur Mah Jongg (which had central heating and access to the Flower Room), Eltham Palace gives a true insight into the lives of this extraordinary family. “They were pretty remarkable and I think the house shows just how wealthy the Courtaulds were, to be able to build a house of that scale and quality on the site of one of the country’s surviving medieval ruins,” says Davies. “The Great Hall is one of the finest medieval halls in England and is perfectly integrated into the house.”

thE black Friar QuEEn ViCtoria StrEEt, EC4V 4EG

Previous page: The domed entrance hall at Eltham Palace. Above: The Great Hall at Eltham Palace. Right: The Black Friar public house in Blackfriars



Built in 1875 near the site of a 13th-century priory, this wedge-shaped pub was saved from demolition in the 1960s, after a campaign lead by poet Sir John Betjeman, who was a great champion of Victorian architecture. It’s no surprise that there was such strong opposition to the now-listed building being destroyed. “The late 1960s was a heroic era of conservation and a small number of campaigners could make a difference,” explains Philip Davies. “The reason The Black Friar is so important is partly because of the shape of the exterior, but it’s really the interior, which is this sort of extraordinary vision of ‘Merry England’, that is most impressive – the levity of it, amusing little vignettes within the building and the decoration.” Adornments, such as the relief work of friars, are rendered using only the finest materials including marble and brass. Plenty of text is incorporated into the design: “There are friezes of certain mottos or little jokes like ‘finery is folly’ and ‘don’t advertise tell a gossip’,” says Davies. “None of it was intended to be very serious, it’s just an incredibly original and inventive interior, which gives a remarkable insight into late 19th-century England and, of course, it was designed as a pub as well.”

London Interiors

St ChriStopher’S Chapel Great OrmOnd Street, WC1n 3JH

Above: St Christopher's Chapel, Great Ormond Street

“This is my favourite,” says Davies of St Christopher’s Chapel, which is part of Great Ormond Street Hospital. “It’s the most beautiful, tiny chapel that is like a jewelled reliquary with fantastic Byzantine decorations, delicate carvings, gold mosaic and stencilling.” The chapel was designed by EM Barry – the son of Sir Charles Barry, who designed the Houses of Parliament – with children specifically in mind, and unveiled in 1875. “The pews are child-sized, which is a lovely touch,” says Davies. “A lot of the ornamentation is designed to appeal

to children and to convey the Christian message through iconography and symbolism. It’s a poignant place because people go here during times of great stress when their children are extremely unwell.” The imagery is largely dedicated to the relationship between Christ and children. On the north wall is the quotation “Suffer the little Children to come unto me”, beneath a mural of children gathered around Jesus. Another thing that makes St Christopher’s so interesting is that when the area around it was developed, the chapel itself was moved on rollers into its current position without any of it being damaged. Anyone can still visit the chapel and it remains one of London’s most affecting interiors. britain


Sightseeing Tour of London Sit back, relax and see all the sights




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London Interiors Cabmen'S Shelter Wellington Place, nW8 7PD Cabmen’s Shelters, with distinctive dark green painted timber and cedar shingles on their roofs, were established at the end of the 19th century by Sir George Armstrong, the editor of The Globe newspaper. “The idea was to give cab drivers somewhere they could go and have a drink or something to eat during the working day,” explains Davies. “They were often restricted to where they could park their cabs so, prior to the shelters, they had to leave them and go to pubs and coach houses where they invariably emerged the worse for wear after too much alcohol. It was part of the temperance movement to give them these shelters with wholesome refreshments.” There are 13 surviving Cabmen’s Shelters in London and all are still used by cab drivers. They have been restored by English Heritage and are all listed. There might be minor differences between them – this one in Wellington Place is unique inside, having been decorated with contemporary murals of London black taxis – but around 12 people can fit comfortably within them, and each has a small kitchen. “They are a quirky part of London’s history,” says Davies. “But they are still used for a purpose and in some cases the public can go in and ask for an egg and chips.”

Above: The library at the Supreme Court, Parliament Square. Left: Exterior and interior of one of the 13 remaining Cabmen's Shelters in the capital

the Supreme Court Parliament square, sW1P 3BD Housing the Supreme Court, which was established in 2005, in this neo-Gothic building of 1911-1913 (formerly Middlesex Guildhall) was a controversial decision. “What they wanted to do as a Supreme Court was to make the legal process more transparent so that people could go in and see what was going on,” explains Davies. “There were certain basic requirements such as having a library, which would mean altering the building. But because the quality of the fitting inside was superb, Save Britain’s Heritage campaigned against it. It went ahead but there were difficult negotiations to ensure that it was a sensitive adaptation of the building.” A number of the courtrooms retained the original fittings but with other areas and rooms that were modernised the superfluous primary features were set aside to be used at the crown court at Snaresbrook. “Then the new interventions were carefully designed to work with the building rather than undermine its qualities,” says Davies. “There is a glass screen, for example, that replaces a solid wall in a hall that used to be very gloomy. It really opens it up and has improved the spacial cavity inside. The end results are a very impressive mixture of conservation and sensitive new development. That’s why it works so well; you can see the quality.” britain




ADDITIONAL FRIDAY TOURS FOR 2013 – ROYALTY AND SPLENDOUR IN THE HOUSE OF LORDS & CONTEMPORARY PORTRAITURE IN PORTCULLIS HOUSE To book tickets please call +44(0) 0844 847 1672 or visit For group bookings call +44(0) 0844 847 2498. For tours information go to or follow us on Twitter @visitparliament Visitor service ad S&S_202x129_Feb13.indd 1

54 britain

01/03/2013 12:27:03

London Interiors the royal automobile Club Pall Mall, SW1Y 5HS The Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland was founded in 1897 by Frederick Richard Simms, and it became the Royal Automobile Club in 1907 under the patronage of Edward VII. It changed locations a few times, from Whitehall Court to Piccadilly, before establishing itself on the site of the old War Office at Cumberland House. The building cost £250,000, and a French team of craftsmen, sculptors and blacksmiths was specifically employed from across the Channel to give the exterior an authentic Parisian look. The Club, which has both male and female members, is behind the introduction of the driving licence. The oldest motoring organisation in the country, it now has the reputation of being the country’s most influential. “The Royal Automobile Club has one of the grandest club interiors in London, designed by Mewes and Davis, the architects of The Ritz,” says Davies. “The basement swimming pool is simply astonishing. It is like something from a Cecil B DeMille epic with Byzantine decoration and glistening mosaics all overlooked by a superb sculpture of a sea goddess by Gilbert Bayes. It is a wonderful expression of fin de siecle opulence from a hedonistic age.” Utterly flamboyant with inspiration from Louis XIV, Italian palaces and Grecian antiquity, this Grade II listed building also boasts its own rifle range and Turkish baths, not to mention the central rotunda, which makes for the perfect place to feature a rotating classic or super car for visitors to admire from almost any angle.

Geo F trumper Curzon Street, W1J 5HQ

Top: The rotunda in the Royal Automobile Club, Pall Mall. Above: The cubicles inside Geo F Trumper's barbershop, Mayfair

“George F Trumper is the epitome of a traditional gentlemen’s barbershop, of which very few now survive,” says Davies. “The discreet frontage conceals a sumptuous and beautifully presented interior with individual cubicles, divided glazed mahogany screens and red velvet curtains – all redolent of a bygone age.” Although Trumper’s first barbershop opened on Curzon Street in 1875, it wasn’t in this location. Built in 1912 the current Curzon Street shop, with its polished oak shopfront and black and gilt window lettering, has beautifully preserved all of its period details. It’s a spot of Mayfair that hasn’t been modernized, inside or out. George F Trumper’s clientele were so sophisticated and aristocratic, he wanted them to have an experience more akin to a gentleman’s club than a barbershop. This old-fashioned approach to a haircut or a shave remains the same and is reflected in the decor. The cubicles are spacious, mirrored and private, with identical green leather traditional barber’s chairs. There are hunting scenes on the walls as well as display cases showing off shaving brushes, razor stands and bottles of the colognes that are now famous all over the world but bear the names of some of the great British figures of the past, including Wellington, Marlborough and Curzon. Despite there being so much to look at, it is immaculately neat, and is still a functioning shop. britain



London Interiors

Above: The Grand Staircase in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Westminster

the Foreign and Commonwealth oFFiCe King charles street, sW1a 2ah In 1856-57, an international architecture competition was held for design proposals for a new Foreign Office building, which had previously occupied a pair of houses in Cleveland Row as well as a property on the south side of Downing Street. The competition was the beginning of a long battle over what style the new building should adopt. Several of Sir George Gilbert Scott’s Gothic designs were rejected, but he was eventually asked to oversee the construction of the vast new Italianate buildings that are now the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He envisaged a “kind of national palace, or drawing room for the nation”. “It’s the most magnificent of all the great offices of state,” says Davies. “Today it seems inconceivable that during the war much of this spectacular High Victorian interior was painted over and covered with plasterboard, and that in the 1960s and 70s it was proposed for demolition. Its restoration in 1992 was a triumph of conservation over institutional philistinism, and it is now cherished as one of the finest 19th-century interiors in Great Britain.”



LONDON: HIDDEN INTERIORS This beautiful, weighty hardback by Philip Davies follows the author's previous book, Panoramas of Lost London, which focused on the buildings that vanished from the capital between 1870 and 1945. "That was all quite mournful and regretful," says Davies. "One of the narratives of the new book is that we need to learn lessons from the past. I wanted to create something that shows how much has survived but that it is hidden away – all of us walk past buildings every day without knowing that there are these wonderful interiors." London: Hidden Interiors presents 180 places that showcase just how much rich, glorious heritage there is still left in the city. Published by Atlantic Publishing with English Heritage – price £40. Available from all good bookshops and www.londonhidden



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Explore the story of the RAF, aviation and the men & women who transformed our world. London: T: 020 8205 2266 Email:

Cosford: T: 01902 376 200 Email: Strawberry Hill is Britain’s finest example of

Georgian Gothic Revival architecture and interior decoration. It began life in 1698 as a modest house which Horace Walpole, the son of England’s first Prime Minister, doubled in size between 1747 and 1792, transforming the house into ‘a little Gothic castle’. A tourist site in its own day, Strawberry Hill has survived into ours and although it’s rural surroundings may have gone, its charm remains undiminished. Following an £8.9 million restoration with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the house is now open to the public.

Using the guidebook written by Walpole, visitors follow the same route as their eighteenth century predecessors for a truly unique fairy tale experience. Open March to November, Saturday to Wednesday please see our website for visiting times and booking information. Our peaceful garden is open all year round. An onsite café serves light lunches and afternoon teas and our shop stocks a wide range of books, unique cards and gifts. 0208 744 1241

268, Waldegrave Road, Twickenham, TW1 4ST

britain 57

Royal Britain

HIDDEN ENGLAND Tucked away in the heart of the country, a treasure trove of quintessential English countryside stretches across Rutland, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire and is home to centuries-old heritage sites, crooked cottages and pretty market towns WORDS CLAIRE SANTRY

The East Royal Midlands Britain

A view of the beautifully preserved English stone town of Stamford seen through some trees

photoS: © alamy/david newham/Quentin Bargate illuStration: georgina luck

Below: View of All Saints Place from Barn Hill, Stamford, Lincolnshire. Opposite: 16th-century Burghley House


hat’s in a name? A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but let’s be honest, the ‘south-eastern corner of the East Midlands’ doesn’t evoke the pastoral delights of chocolate-box England. The area has no uniform geological character or manifestation crying out a descriptive nickname or identity label and there isn’t even any naturally defined border, since it takes in parts of no fewer than five counties. This is a place to fool any GPS

gadget, as twisting country lanes cross from, say, Lincolnshire into Rutland, before tumbling back into Lincolnshire, turning a corner into Cambridgeshire or Leicestershire and striking out into Northamptonshire. This lack of a recognised designation may be why, despite its accessibility to the east and west of the A1, you will spot more county boundary signs than tourist buses. Yet here are whole villages of crooked cottages, built of creamy Lincolnshire limestone or warm flame ironstone, and topped with thatch or Collyweston stone slates; here are hill-top castles with turrets and towers and tales of medieval valour; here are some of England’s most attractive market towns, a group of outstanding stately homes, two of the country’s most sensational cathedrals, royal connections, poetry, rushing rivers, sleepy canals, top-notch gardens and glorious unhurried space. While it has not hit the big-time in the tourism celebrity stakes, the region is no stranger to Hollywood or the big stars of the small screen. If some of the picture perfect Georgian squares and medieval streets of Stamford seem vaguely familiar, it is because they are very well known to the location scouts of films such as Pride and Prejudice, The Da Vinci Code and Middlemarch. Only the most observant nit-picker might spot the occasional security alarm on a row of 18th-century buildings on Maiden Lane, or be able to trace the telephone wiring down the façade of the 14th-century house of ill-repute on St Paul’s street; for the non-purist, the scene on every turn looks ready for the ‘Action’ command on a costume drama set. It is uniformity that brings about this postcard pretty period style. Although a few plaster and timber board houses survive in the town, the dominant building material is Barnack stone topped by local Collyweston stone roof slates. The latter are laid in the ‘diminishing courses’ tradition, with the smallest tiles – the six-inch even mopes or pinchthumbs – nearest the ridge, to create an optical

The East Midlands

With its soft White stone turrets, balustrade and magnificent symmetry, burghley harks back to the days When there Was nothing vulgar about money and poWer








It’s an enchanting adventure, a nostalgic journey and a great day out for the whole family Seven galleries • Over 50 vehicles Original enamel signs • Motoring curiosities TV’s superhero car, Brum Toy collection • Gift shop



call 01451 821255 visit

a place to...

EXPERIENCE | twitter@LincsCathedral

“ The very first time I entered Lincoln Cathedral I remember I just stood, gazing in awesome wonder.” PHIL HAMLYN WILLIAMS - CHIEF EXECUTIVE

INSPIRING people in different ways

One of the greatest gothic buildings in Europe Marvel at the Great West Front | Visit the medieval Wren Library Discover the famous Lincoln Imp | View the Dean’s Eye window dating from 1220 | See the shrine of St.Hugh and the tomb of Katherine Swynford Home to one of the four surviving copies of the original Magna Carta | Visit the Chapter House and enjoy the atmosphere captured in the Da Vinci Code Be inspired by architecture almost a 1000 years old The Cloisters Refectory is open for light refreshments and the Cathedral Shop for gifts. Open daily for floor and roof tours or join us for worship at one of our daily services

For further information Call 01522 561600 Or visit us online at /Lincoln.Cathedral

62 britain


The East Midlands

themselves trying to identify the single round castleshaped chimney pot among the 200-odd square versions that make up the crowning glory of the huge house. Inside, there’s barely an inch of wall or ceiling that’s not either supporting a framed work of art or been painted by an artist. With its swirling naked goddesses, hidden doors, opulent furnishings, highly polished silver ornaments and even a display of turtles’ skulls, the 80-room interior is testament to flamboyant aristocratic taste down the centuries. While the rich décor and precious objects vie for attention, tired eyes can relax with views of the surrounding Capability Brown designed landscape from every window. Among the many gardeners who have tended these 1,400 acres of parkland over the centuries is the acclaimed 19th-century poet John Clare. He hailed from nearby Helpston, a village that used to be in Northamptonshire (hence his renown as the Northampton Peasant Poet) but is now in Cambridgeshire, and his tiny home has recently been restored and opened as a heritage centre. It’s a pleasant spot in which to learn about the man himself, his struggle with depression, and rural 19thcentury life and the pastoral poetry it inspired. It contains examples of his work together with information about his Above: The cottage of 19th-century poet John Clare. Right: The Bull & Swan pub in Stamford

illusion of height and a beautifully harmonious roofscape above the winding cobbled streets. Wandering the streets of Stamford, dipping in and out of its alleyways and encircling its seven surviving churches, offers a visual history lesson, made all the more enjoyable if you have time for a little boutique shopping along St Mary’s Street, a browse around one or two antiquarian bookshops, or a drink or meal in one of its many ancient coaching inns. There were once 90 pubs, back in the days when the town was on the Great North Road and a relay team of four horses could reach London within 12 hours, and while there are considerably fewer now, some of the gems remain. The George is probably the best known (and photographed) and it’s just a stone’s throw to another favourite, the Bull & Swan. From either, it is only a short stroll to St Martin’s churchyard and the grave of Daniel Lambert, who was recognised as England’s heaviest man when he died in 1809 weighing a little under 53 stone (335kg) and with a waist circumference of 9ft (274cm). Less than one mile from Stamford but over the border into Cambridgeshire is the lavish house of Burghley, which was built by William Cecil, treasurer to Good Queen Bess. With its soft white stone turrets and balustrade and magnificent symmetry, it is arguably England’s greatest Elizabethan house and harks back to the days when there was nothing vulgar about ostentatious displays of money and power. If you had it, you flaunted it, and even the 76 slender chimney stacks carried a message that could be read from miles around. Some 450 years later, today’s visitors are less in awe of the status-laden roof statement and can amuse

A mAtter of good tAste

J The Olive Branch in Clipsham is one of only 13 UK pubs to hold a Michelin star. J Rutland’s Hambleton Bakery was recently crowned Britain’s Best Bakery in ITV’s show of the same name. J The unique hearty flavour of Lincolnshire Sausages comes from coarsely chopped pork and generous quantities of sage – just ask the Lincolnshire Sausage Association! J Celebrity Chef Rick Stein went to school in Uppingham. J The Bull & Swan hotel in Stamford (above) was once the

aristocratic drinking club of The Honourable Order of Little Bedlam and its seven individual rooms are named after the gentlemen members. J Food and general markets are held in Oakham in Rutland on Wednesdays, and in Uppingham in Rutland and Stamford in Lincolnshire on Fridays. J Leicestershire's Belvoir Brewery offers educational tours and a lively sampling cellar. J Pork pies, Stilton and Red Leicester are the delicious staples of a Ploughman’s Lunch in the region.



All the comforts of home

Standedge Tunnel & Visitor Centre

National Waterways Museum Liverpool


Anderton Boat Lift


The Canal Museum

In Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds

Milton Keynes


Gloucester Waterways Museum


Our stylish three and four star hotels range from a Victorian mansion to a contemporary lakeside resort, offering:

‘ Where history comes alive’ Visit one of our inspiring museums and open a window onto one of the greatest achievements of Britain!

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64 britain

Transport for London

05/03/2013 16:07

The East Midlands

photo: © corbIs/erIc crIchton

Above: Doddington Hall is full of quirky antiquities. This image: Lincoln Cathedral is visible from miles around

life, and the gardens have been redesigned and planted with varieties that would have been seen in Clare’s time. Some seven miles away, and at the other end of the architectural spectrum to the poet’s thatched cottage, is Peterborough Cathedral. The sheer scale of the building – full name The Cathedral Church of St Peter, St Paul and St Andrew – should have earned it greater recognition, yet it has stood here, little acknowledged, for more than 750 years. Perhaps it was this very lack of notoriety that saved it from ruin during the Reformation, or perhaps it was spared because Henry VIII, for all his angst against the Catholic Church, was not prepared to desecrate the last resting place of his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, whom he divorced for failing to produce the male heir he so desperately needed. With little pomp, she was buried here in 1536 and, to this day, pomegranates are placed on her gravestone in the nave. Before leaving her Spanish home, the young princess had chosen the fruit as her heraldic emblem because, ironically as it turned out, it was the medieval symbol of fertility. Mary, Queen of Scots was also buried here after her execution in 1587 at nearby Fotheringhay but her remains were removed to Westminster Abbey in 1612 by her son James after he ascended the English throne. Both queens were buried by the same sexton, Robert Scarlett, whose portrait hangs inside the cathedral’s massive wooden entrance doors. The reason for Peterborough Cathedral’s lack of fame may be that it lies almost in the shadow of a far more celebrated cathedral: Lincoln. Lying at the northern tip of the region, Lincoln Cathedral earns top billing in the awe-inspiring stakes due to its position, perched on the top of a rocky outcrop and visible for miles around. It shares its lofty location with a Norman castle and is reached by a tumbling street of cafés and gift shops, appropriately called Steep Hill. Just outside the city is the brick and stone Doddington Hall, another of the region’s stately residences, which dates from 1600 but is still very much a home. Its collection – complete with a stunning appliqué Egyptian tent room, a rare scold’s bridle (a punishment for gossiping women), topiary unicorns and a Civil War uniform – is seriously quirky, and adds to the relaxed familial atmosphere of the old house. Outside, kitchen gardens supply the adjacent farm shop and restaurant, and visitors can enjoy a series of short walks around the estate. Vegetable and flower gardens survive well in these parts. Indeed, Lincolnshire is considered to have the greatest proportion of Grade I land in England and it delivers more fresh produce than any other county. Not surprisingly,

In the town of stamford, the scene on every turn looks set for the 'actIon' command In a costume drama



The East Midlands

The ruins of easTon, a once-grand house, were rediscovered in 2001 veiled in Thick shrubbery and are currenTly being reTurned To Their original glory This image: Easton Walled Gardens. Below: Rockingham Castle

enclosed behind imposing high curtain walls, Rockingham instantly captures the imagination. Children are delighted to discover the kind of round tower gatehouse and arrow slits they believe synonymous with the word ‘castle’, and the dungeons are an added bonus, while adults enjoy the connections with frequent visitor Charles Dickens, the recreations of Victorian domestic life and the eclectic collection of art, furniture and other treasures. The amusing Elephant Hedge of yew is guaranteed to raise a smile from all, and the village below the castle has a similar winning way. Built of ochre ironstone and topped with either slates or thatch, the main street of Rockingham would set a mean challenge in a beauty pageant of England’s most quintessential village views. Unfairly uncelebrated, this part of the country is not really off the beaten track, even if it displays one of the hallmarks of a rural backwater with some decidedly peculiar place names. You might reasonably assume that Burton Coggles, Carlton Scroop, Barnby in the Willows, Old, Boothby Graffoe and the uncompromisingly blunt Bitchfield are far from modern civilisation, and that signs pointing to Preston, Jerusalem and Scotland are rural amusements designed to disorientate travellers. But all these places, dotted about this varied historical landscape, are within a stone’s throw of the A1. Just take the slip road.

 For more information on the places mentioned in this feature visit the BRITAIN magazine website at



easTon phoTo: © alan meTheringham

therefore, the wider region has a number of top-class gardens, including Barnsdale, which actually has 38 different gardens and planting schemes, all designed by Geoff Hamilton for BBC programme Gardeners’ World. Another of these horticultural delights is the 400-year-old Easton Walled Gardens. Known as Lincolnshire’s Lost Gardens, the terraced site and the ruins of a once-grand house were rediscovered in 2001 veiled in brambles and thick wild shrubbery and are now being returned to their original glory by the present owners. A yew tunnel of 112 trees separates symmetrical formal plantings of lilac and rose and is reached by a pretty stone bridge over an Elizabethan canal, while a turf maze, cottage gardens, a snowdrop walk and some unusual outdoor sculpture choices create a charming variety of fun and learning options. Children are encouraged to enjoy the space at Easton, but there are much bigger outdoor playgrounds nearby at the 4,200 acres of Rutland Water, once Europe’s largest man-made lake, and in the far-from-grim grounds of Grimsthorpe Castle near Bourne. While the former is a magnet for watersports enthusiasts and cyclists, it is easy to get delightfully lost in the great expanse of the castle estate. Some 600 red and fallow deer roam in the distinctly English parkland, with its long ceremonial avenues of chestnuts planted in the 17th century, woodland walks, areas of special scientific interest and a huge lake. There’s yet more space on offer at Rockingham Castle, which looks out over the Welland Valley in the south of the region. With its 1,000 years of history, much of it




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Do get in touch with your views about the country, your travels and the magazine



In September we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary and recent retirements on a 15-day circuit of Great Britain brimming with lifetime experiences. A gift subscription to BRITAIN magazine, with its insightful articles and stunning photography, helped us plan our trip. From the vibrant streets of London to Edinburgh’s Royal Mile; from the hallowed halls at Cambridge to Hadrian’s Wall, Stonehenge, and Bath; and from Wordsworth’s Lake District village of Grasmere to the Bard’s Stratford-uponAvon, we savoured British culture and cuisine. We crossed south-western England by rail to Cape Cornwall, where we lodged at a St Just

B&B that was home to three generations of my family from the 1870s through the 1920s. We slept in my great-great grandfather’s bedroom, across the hallway from the room my grandfather shared with his brothers. By chance, I stood in the room where my grandfather was born on the anniversary of his birth 129 years ago. In 1903, at age 19, Grandpa left St Just to find work in Michigan’s copper mines, never to return to England. Mary and I retraced his route in reverse, as we motored from Penzance to St Just. For a brief but moving visit, we trod where my ancestors had, absorbed sights they had known, and identified camera angles of photographs they had taken more than a century ago. We are grateful to Great Britain for an evocative journey in time, culture, and family heritage. And, thank you, BRITAIN magazine, for every beautiful issue that stirs such fond memories of our journey and inspires our return. Mary and Tom Friggens, Marquette, Michigan, USA • Our favourite letter wins this

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CONQUERING NORMAN I was so excited to see your magazine in the bookshop today, since I have a trip to London planned this summer. One of the places we are going to visit is the Tower of London and there is a nice write up about it on page 8 of the special London insert that came with Volume 81 Issue 1 of BRITAIN. Has anyone else pointed out to you the funny error on page 8 of the special? I had to laugh at the thought of ‘Norman the Conqueror’ building the Tower of London. I don’t know why that is funnier than William, somehow it just is, probably because I grew up with a kid named Norman – and while he was and is very handy with a car engine, I can’t seem to picture him invading England. Thanks for a beautiful magazine that has helped me plan my trip. Becky Connors, Moscow, Idaho, USA

BRITAIN REPLIES: Good spot Becky – it was an unintentional typo but we are also amused by the idea of Norman the Conqueror!


I have bought BRITAIN magazine regularly for about two years and read it with great enthusiasm. I have visited the UK many times and am going again this July. I would like to visit Leeds and wonder if you have ever done an article on that city? Angela Parks, via email


We haven’t covered Leeds in a while Angela, but it’s a fabulous city to visit, especially in recent years as it’s undergone quite a transformation. We’ll try to feature it in the magazine soon.

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Over To You


My 90-year-old mother, also named Diana, has been a reader of BRITAIN for years and years and never written to a magazine, but she asked me to send an email ‘on my machine’ to let you know a few things. She was interested in Volume 81 Issue 2 and a letter written by John Cole from Toronto about Henry VIII’s wives. He mentioned that he thought Anne of Cleves was probably the most fortunate of Henry’s wives, but what about Katherine Parr who was wife number six and on his death was able to marry her love Thomas Seymour? She also enjoyed your article on the British suffragettes, but pointed out that women in South Australia were given the vote in their state Parliament at the end of the 19th century while British women were still ‘fighting’ for that honour. Diana Whitton, via email

MARVELLOUS MILTON KEYNES In the March/April 2013 issue of BRITAIN you have a lovely article about Buckinghamshire. What was odd was the omission of Milton Keynes. Although a government authority in its own right, it is still proudly part Buckinghamshire – and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about mentioning (or visiting) it! There’s everything from the wartime code breakers museum at Bletchley Park to the large Roman Villa at Bancroft to the Cock and Bull Pubs in Stony Stratford that gave their names to the famous saying about tall stories. Oh, and there are 20 million trees in the urban area, 15 lakes, 44 forests and more bridges than Venice! David Wright, via email

BLETCHLEY CODE BREAKERS There’s something satisfying about seeing one’s own home county featured in BRITAIN. The Buckinghamshire you describe is beautifully portrayed, especially our ‘trademark’ bluebells. I do feel, however, that in 20th-century history the story of Bletchley and the amazing solving of the Enigma machine should have been referred to for its role in the favourable outcome of World War II. As code buffs we have visited and it is not only interesting from the code-breaking point of view, but from the aspect of the people who worked there and, of course, the big house is comparable with many of the houses you feature. Diana S Karrandas, Toronto, Canada




I very much enjoyed your feature on thatched cottages in the latest issue (Volume 81 Issue 2) of BRITAIN magazine. I notice that the amazinglooking Landmark Trust cottage the piece led with, Swiss Cottage, is in the grounds of Endsleigh in Devon. After reading about Hotel Endsleigh in the previous issue’s Wonderful Weekends feature I am now desperate to visit, but where do you think I should I stay – the cottage or the hotel?! Kirsty Vaughan, via email

BRITAIN REPLIES: You’re truly spoilt for choice at Endsleigh, Kirsty. The main draw here is the incredible setting, so whether you choose rustic cottage or luxury hotel you can be sure of a beautiful stay.

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British History


A medieval brotherhood of soldier monks who fought bravely in the Crusades became a powerful but clandestine order that was ultimately brought down by a jealous French king 700 years ago. We follow a trail of chivalry and secrecy to uncover the legacy of the Templars



Above: The interior nave of Temple Church in the City of London, the Templars' former headquarters in England. Inset: The seal of the Knights Templar


even hundred years ago, on 18 March 1314, a huge crowd gathered beside the Seine, near Notre Dame Cathedral, and watched in stunned silence as two elderly men were burned at the stake. They were James of Molay and Geoffrey of Charnay, the last two senior figures – the Grand Master and Master of Normandy respectively – of a once powerful religious order. This was the final death-knell for the Knights Templar, who had been at the heart of the Crusades and prospered for 200 years. Taking vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and owing allegiance only

to the Pope, the brothers made up the first uniformed standing army since the Roman Empire. Kings and princes were among their number, they were experts in commerce and became the first international bankers. The Templars had one of their three headquarters in London – the others were Jerusalem and Paris – and, despite the passage of time, have left their mark on British landscapes and literature. Churches carved with mysterious symbols, castles and the sites of preceptories remain. Towns, localities and farms with ‘temple’ in their name – such as Templecombe and Templeton – are clues BRITAIN


Below, from left: Carvings in Royston Cave, Hertfordshire; Orlando Bloom in Ridley Scott's Crusades epic film Kingdom of Heaven, where the Knights Templar are portrayed as a brutal faction; Lincoln Cathedral was used for the inquisition of the city’s Templars. Facing page, from left: Effigies of Templar Knights inside Temple Church; Rosslyn Chapel



to Templar ownership. Military prowess and the Order’s code of chivalry have captivated authors for centuries, leading its role to be romanticised and embellished with myths and legends in stories from Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. The formation of the Templars – which derived its name from founder knights who took up residence in Jerusalem’s Temple of Solomon – arose out of the need to protect pilgrims from attack in the Holy Land. They became efficient mounted warriors during successive Crusades. Victories in the Holy Land led to the accumulation of vast wealth, enhanced by donations of land in Britain and elsewhere and freedom from taxes wherever they practised. The Order became all-powerful and was beholden to no one but the Pope. It operated as a treasury and was a lender to royalty and the nobility across Europe. But this power and secrecy made many enemies. A French king, Philip IV, coveted the Templars’ wealth to such an extent that he contrived to destroy the Order. He persuaded the only individual who could denounce the organisation, Pope Clement V, to accuse it of heresy.

tombs of armoured knights upon the floor. Set into the north side is a sinister place: a cell where Walter le Bachelor, Irish Grand Master, was imprisoned for embezzlement and left to starve to death. The Tower of London was a fearsome fortress in the 14th century, especially if you were a Templar. By 1310, many were in chains in its dungeons and, if not actually tortured, suffered psychological pressure and inhumane conditions. Some died in captivity, most important of whom was the Master of the Temple in England. It is said William de la More died of a broken heart, determined to the end to protest his Order’s innocence. Adjacent is the city’s oldest church, All Hallows by the Tower. In the undercroft is a stone altar brought from Athlit Castle in Acre, the Templars’ last stronghold in the Holy Land. After some years of imprisonment, Edward II ordered the knights to admit their guilt here, or at nearby St Paul’s, after which most were released with a form of penance. High above Dover harbour and the waters of the English Channel are the ruins of a small flint chapel. The foundations of a round nave, a feature of Templar

Charges included denying Christ, idolatry, witchcraft and homosexual practices. On Friday 13 October 1307, French brothers were rounded up, arrested and tortured (creating the long-held superstition surrounding Friday the 13th). A purge of the British Order began later the same year, when King Edward II’s men marched into its headquarters, the Temple in London, to arrest them. Still a self-contained enclave of period buildings, gardens and courtyards, then it included the Templars’ Great Hall, Exchequer and a well-guarded treasury, brimming with gold and jewels. After the abolishment of the Order, the Inner and Middle Temple were and still are occupied by the legal profession. Temple Church is the most atmospheric. At its heart is a simple round nave, typical of Templar churches, with grotesque carved faces around the perimeter and stone

architecture, mark this as one of its churches. As the port was the embarkation point for the Holy Land, this would have been the last opportunity for worship before the knights’ perilous journeys. The largest reminders of the Order and its wealth are two massive wooden barns that once stored grain from a large Templar estate gifted by King Stephen and Queen Matilda. Each constructed with hundreds of oak trees, the barns at Cressing Temple, Essex are imposing monuments and remarkable survivors. In contrast, a man-made cave entered from a Hertfordshire shopping street is one of the smaller and most surprising of Templar remains. Royston Cave is situated at the intersection of two ancient roads, Ermine Street and the Icknield Way. The Order often utilised

British History underground passages and caverns and this one is decorated with their wall carvings. Nearby Baldock and Witham near Cressing Temple were Templar ‘new towns’ created to house workers for the Orders’ extensive estates. Bisham Abbey beside the Thames in Buckinghamshire is now home to the National Sports Council but was once a Templar preceptory, ideally located as a staging post between other properties in London and Oxfordshire. During the inquisition, it was said to be one of the places used for idol worship. Lincolnshire and Yorkshire are dotted with reminders of the Order. It built the Angel Inn, Grantham as a place of hospitality on Ermine Street and it still serves this purpose, now as the Angel & Royal Hotel. King John held court here in 1213, one of several royal visitors. A hundred years later, Lincoln Cathedral was used for the inquisition of the city’s Templars. They were imprisoned in the castle for two years, and religious images they carved to while away the hours can still be seen. York Castle, or Clifford’s Tower, served the same purpose for the brothers in Yorkshire. An elaborate tomb in Hereford Cathedral is an illustration of the Templars in stone. Fourteen knights, bearing their distinctive shields, are carved in various poses around the base. It is the resting place of St Thomas de Cantilupe, a bishop and provincial Grand Master, who died in 1282. Responsible for miracles, he was the last Englishman to be canonised before the Reformation.

A man-made cave entered from a Hertfordshire shopping street is one of the smaller and most surprising of Templar remains


The Templar association with Scotland is more complicated. The ruin of its Scottish headquarters at Balandtrodoch, now known as Temple, contains gravestones carved with skulls and crossbones more commonly associated with the Freemasons. After their suppression – though the Templars were never officially annulled here – the brothers fled to the west coast, where remote Kilmartin has a selection of grave slabs that render a powerful impression of medieval life. The ornate chapel at Rosslyn, south of Edinburgh, which achieved renewed prominence during the filming of The Da Vinci Code, is the most enigmatic of all Templar sites. It was founded 134 years after the Order was abolished by the Pope, and contains a mixture of Christian and pagan symbols. After the abolishment of the Templars in 1312, most properties were gifted to another ‘rival’ medieval Crusading order, the Knights Hospitaller, or Order of St John. Unlike the Templars, this Order has continued through the centuries, its original ‘caring for pilgrims’



British History

The ornate chapel at Rosslyn, south of Edinburgh, which achieved renewed prominence during the fi lming of The Da Vinci Code, is the most enigmatic of all Templar sites



DID YOU KNOW? • The knights who murdered Archbishop

of Canterbury Thomas Becket were ordered to do penance by serving with the Templars in Jerusalem. The sword that inflicted the fatal wound was displayed in London’s Temple Church. • England’s Grand Master, Aymer St Mawr, was a witness to King John signing the Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215. • Symbols were used to strengthen the Order’s image. Templar buildings often feature the octagonal shape – echoing the mosque they occupied on Temple Mount – and a cryptic number eight appears on grave slabs, floor tiles and fonts. It also used Agnus

Dei, or the ‘Lamb of God’: the sign of St John the Baptist. Its seal shows two knights on one horse, representing their vow of poverty. • Crusading King Richard I may have been a Templar, secretly initiated to the Order. Its knights certainly escorted him, carrying fragments of the True Cross and Great Seal of England. When Richard was shipwrecked and held hostage, a large ransom was raised from the Templars. • Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem in Nottingham is one of England’s oldest pubs and takes its name from Crusaders who drank there before departing for the Holy Land. It dates from 1189, the time of the Third Crusade.


role transmuted into today’s St John Ambulance. Part of the Order’s London headquarters, in a gatehouse to the former Priory of St John, now houses its museum. Though the Templars owed no allegiance to kings and were forbidden to fight fellow Christians, Edward I had managed to enlist the Master of the Order in Scotland in his suppression of the Scots. Brian de Jay was cruel and unscrupulous and, long after being killed at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298, became the model for the evil Templar Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert in Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe. Scott returned to the Templar theme in The Talisman, with Richard I (the ‘Lionheart’) as the hero. Many authors since have found inspiration in the romance of the Order. The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail featured its cryptic legends; Umberto Eco popularised it in Foucault’s Pendulum; while The Da Vinci Code brought Templar myths to a new generation. Though centuries have passed since a knight last donned the white robe of the ‘martyrs of Christ’, visitors to the former preceptory site of Maryculter in Aberdeenshire should be alert to the unexpected. According to legend, the ghost of a wronged Templar, Godfrey Wedderburn, has been seen galloping into the Deeside glen. He utters a thunderous war-cry before vanishing into the night.

Above, from far left: The Tower of London; the west stained glass window of St Andrew's Church at Temple Grafton in Warwickshire depicting Knights Templar and Hospitaller; carved faces in the round nave at Temple Church

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For brand new adventures that are as exciting as they are beautiful, think outside the box and stay in some extraordinary hideaways. take your pick from trucks to tipis and tree houses to trailers WORDS Martha alexander

The Lake District 1


photoS: © living architecture

olidays in our green and pleasant land aren’t just restricted to hotels, country houses and quaint cottages. Clustered in the foothills of mountain ranges, nestled into dense woodland or jutting onto still waters throughout Britain are the sorts of beautiful and totally unique hideaways that encapsulate all anyone with a taste for quirky romance and a thirst for adventure could ever wish for. From tree houses to trailers, roulottes to railway carriages these unusual escapes offer a chance to abandon bricks and mortar without sacrificing style or comfort. If you are seeking something totally original and slightly off-the-wall, look no further than

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Named after typical British countryside mammals or flowers, the canvas cottages at the Dandelion Hideaway (3) are found in the Spinney Field, five acres of unspoilt rural farmland in Leicestershire. Nestled into the natural habitat of woodland or field banks, all of the cottages sleep six, except Bluebells, which is a romantic retreat for two. Each cottage has a farmhouse feel: traditional wooden dressers, butler’s sinks with brass taps and wood-burning fires with ovens. The furniture is wooden, leather and cotton; the patterns are faded florals. There is no electricity in the cottages, and nighttime by candlelight only adds to the romance and nostalgia of the place. A former fire service truck now stationary in the Highlands of Scotland might not sound like the ideal place to stay, but The Beer Moth (4) has bags of charm and an unparalleled heritage. This extraordinary vehicle – a 1950 Commer Q4 – lived in the Manston Fire Museum in Kent before it was brought up to its current location

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A quality tree house holiday for two in the East Sussex countryside. This tree house has all you need for a romantic or well-earned break from everyday life, make the most of sunny days on the sundeck or explore the adjoining land, local villages, pubs and restaurants For further details and a selection of other ‘unique sleeps’ please visit us at or call +44 (0)1348 830922.

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Places To Stay


1. balancing barn

Walberswick, Suffolk Sleeps eight; available from 6-10 May 2013 onwards.

2. roulotte retreat

Melrose, Scottish Borders Sleeps two/four; not suitable for children unless in cottage. Tel: 0845 0949 729.

3. dandelion hideaway

Osbaston, Leicestershire Sleeps up to six; dogs allowed. Tel: 01455 292 888. 4. the beer moth Aviemore, Highlands of Scotland Sleeps two; adults only; pets welcome. Tel: 01275 395 447. 5. bluebell shepherd's huts Abergavenny, Monmouthshire Sleeps two with room for a cot; no pets allowed. Tel: 01873 890190.

on the Inshriach House estate near picturesque Aviemore. The roof has been raised by a foot, it has a parquet floor that originally belonged in a Tudor mansion, uses an old fire escape as a staircase and the back wall of an old dog kennel has also been installed. Two people can sleep in a rather bombastic Victorian double bed – and one thing’s for sure, you will find absolutely nothing else like this the world over. Named after the dense blanket of blooms that cover the surrounding woodland each May, the Bluebell Shepherd’s Huts (5) on a hillside in the Black Mountains of the Brecon Beacons are the perfect blend of bucolic simplicity and wellappointed style. The two huts – one for sleeping, containing a double bed and room for a cot, and the other for cooking, washing and including a compost loo, which is much more affable than it sounds – are made out of recycled and locally-sourced wood. Situated on a 150-acre farm, which is also home to an assortment of animals, including pigs and Highland cows, guests can expect to wake up to a true taste of the splendid Welsh countryside. Fans of all things retro will feel right at home in the Happy Days Airstream Trailers (6), based on the gorgeous Meadow View Campsite in

rural Dorset. They might have been given pin-up names – Betsy, Dee Dee, Peggy and Gloria – but these silver bombshells are more than just pretty façades: inside, it’s cosy home comforts with modern kitchen equipment, a DVD player and carefully considered vintage furnishing. There are picnic areas outside each trailer and mobile firepits can be rented – perfect for cooking and keeping warm as the evenings draw in. With ice cream and fish and chip vans visiting frequently, and outdoor games encouraged on site, Happy Days offer both a hit of nostalgia and a slice of the innocence of yesteryear. Bensfield Treehouse (7) near the historic village of Wadhurst, East Sussex is accessed by a 24-metre rope bridge that stretches across a pond. The tree house is built around a mature oak and is also shrouded by neighbouring foliage, making you feel completely at one with the trees. Inside, the décor is fresh and modern – light timber throughout with a fitted kitchen, central heating and a shower room. The tree house is open plan with a large double bed; the maximum number of guests is two, making this the perfect romantic hideaway. If peace and quiet is what you look for in a countryside getaway, the log cabins at The britain


Places To Stay


6. Happy days trailers

Wimborne, Dorset Sleeps four or five; no pets allowed. Tel: 01202 567606.

7. bensfield treeHouse

Wadhurst, East Sussex Sleeps two; no pets or small children. Tel: 01348 830922.

8. tHe suffolk escape

Hintlesham, Suffolk Sleeps four; no children or pets allowed. Tel: 01473 652149. 9. 4 Winds lakeland tipis Lake District National Park, Cumbria Sleeps six; no pets allowed in tipis but on-site kennels available. Tel: 01539 822 935. 10. railHoliday St Germans and Hayle, Cornwall Sleeps two, six or ten people; pets welcome. Tel: 01503 230783.



Suffolk Escape (8) will undoubtedly fit the bill. There are four two-bedroom chalets beside a tranquil lake at the heart of a 300-acre farm, each with outside decking that is set over the waters. Beauty treatments from the comfort of your own cabin are available. Suitable for couples or groups of friends, this retreat is designed for adults only, to ensure that relaxation and calm abounds. It’s never too late to play cowboys and Indians, thanks to 4 Winds Lakeland Tipis (9) who operate from three beautiful Cumbrian campsites, each chosen for its views: one near Ambleside, one near Coniston and another at the head of the Wastwater, the deepest lake in England, and in the shadow of the Scafell mountain range. Having three sites of wigwams in such a quintessentially British place is a quirky twist and looks glorious. The tipis are brightly coloured and the designs on the canvas covering are traditionally Native American, depicting animals or dreams. Made following the traditional Sioux three-pole construction, the tipis use wood from local sustainably managed plantations. Inside the tipis it’s simple and cosy with lots of brightly coloured fabrics and rugs.

Staying in renovated, authentic railway carriages with Railholiday (10) in Cornwall is a brilliant way to immerse yourself in British heritage. With two at St Germans station and one at Hayle station, the carriages are based in places through which the Great Western Railway line from London to Penzance runs. Each carriage has its own private landscaped garden and has been restored in a way that is both comfortable and attractive, while still staying true to the history of the original purpose of the structure. The St Ives Bay SK2 is a 1950s compartment coach in Hayle, which is 65 feet long and can sleep up to ten people. The compartments have been kept intact and the beds make use of the original seats, which only adds to the authenticity of it all. The St Germans’ site has two fantastic carriages: The Old Luggage Van which, at 24-feet long and very snug, is perfect for couples, and The Travelling Post Office, which sleeps up to six and is a family favourite.

 For more details, pictures and in-depth reviews of some of the places mentioned in this feature visit the BRITAIN magazine website at

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“I am native. Rooted here” Peter Grimes

Grimes in Aldeburgh 7–23 June

Britten’s first and arguably greatest opera, Peter Grimes, comes home to the place that inspired it. This remarkable exploration features a unique staging on the beach, plus a dark journey through the Aldeburgh of Peter Grimes devised by Punchdrunk.

Britten Dances 20 & 21 June 1913



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In Benjamin Britten’s centenary year visit the place where his vision comes alive 86 britain

A special celebration of Britten’s music through dance, bringing together two of the world’s great dance companies: The Royal Ballet and Royal Ballet Flanders.

Death in Venice 1 & 2 November

Yoshi Oida’s award-winning 2007 Aldeburgh Festival production in a revival by Opera North.

Centenary Weekend 21–24 November A weekend in partnership with BBC Radio 3, including Noye’s Fludde, the Belcea Quartet, BBC Singers and BBC Symphony Orchestra with Oliver Knussen, and performances of Britten’s Friday Afternoons by over 100,000 young people across the UK.

Benjamin Britten

A little village on the sea-swept coast of Suffolk has become a year-round attraction for music lovers thanks to England’s most famous composer. Benjamin Britten founded a festival and a concert hall here and his music resonates with the echoes of his home

All imAgES Š AldEBurgh fEStivAl/BrittEn-pEArS foundAtion

WORDS Martha alexander

while there is no direct translation of birdsong and other environmental sounds into britten’s work, people do ‘hear’ aldeburgh in his music

Clockwise from main: Aldeburgh beach; Britten and Yehudi Menuhin rehearsing for an Aldeburgh Festival recital in 1958; inside Snape Maltings Concert Hall; Britten at Crag House



Benjamin Britten


n a typical morning that began with the dawn chorus outside his window, followed by a few hours of work at his desk, composer Benjamin Britten would head off on a long walk in the beautiful Suffolk countryside near his home, The Red House, in Aldeburgh. While taking in his surroundings, the classical musician would reflect on the progression of his compositions. The environment around him was an incredibly powerful part of Britten’s work, and he considered Aldeburgh to be not only where he lived and was spiritually anchored, but also the lifeblood of his music. He founded a festival here – Aldeburgh Music – now in its 66th year, an event that sees the streets swarming with visitors from all over the world each June. He also opened Snape Maltings Concert Hall with his lifelong friend, Peter Pears, ensuring that Aldeburgh became a year-round attraction for music lovers. This year is the centenary of Britten’s birth and it is estimated that there will be over 2,000 events in 39 countries to celebrate, while the composer will be honoured in the UK with a special commemorative coin and a stamp. But at the heart of it all remains Aldeburgh. Through Britten, this little village on the Suffolk coast has become an internationally renowned music centre. So what is it about Aldeburgh that so captured the attention and imagination of one of the world’s greatest composers? “It’s something that is fundamentally to do with the openness and the light,” says Jonathan Reekie, Chief Executive of Aldeburgh Music. “It’s the big open skies – the light here is amazing. I think that ultimately creates a fantastic environment and the freedom to have ideas.” Aldeburgh is the place where the Suffolk marshes meet rugged coastline. It offers a combination of unspoiled, old-fashioned beauty and dramatic weather; you can be shrouded in fog, basking in sun or – thanks to the musical connections – singing in the rain. Of course, Britten wasn’t the first artist to have fallen for Aldeburgh’s charms. Painters Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable, novelist Wilkie Collins and more recently the artist Maggi Hambling have all been inspired by the shale beaches, the marshland, the waves and the light. Hambling’s Scallop sculpture on the beach features lyrics from one of Britten’s most famous operas, Peter Grimes: “I hear those voices that will not be drowned”. Hambling is just one of many artists whom Britten has gone on to inspire, by way of Aldeburgh. Peter Grimes will be performed on the beach at Aldeburgh this summer during the festival. The size of the cast means that it’s too big for the auditorium at Snape Maltings, where there will be a concert dedicated solely to the music from it instead. There will also be a show about the character of Grimes by Punchdrunk, a theatre company that gives audiences immersive experiences, in this case around the small seaside village where the fictional antihero lived. Britten’s works were often made with Aldeburgh in mind – the opening of Peter Grimes is in the Moot Hall, which is the 16th-century town hall in the middle of Aldeburgh, where the council meetings are still held. Curlew River is another work inspired by Suffolk. While Britten wanted



Benjamin Britten

Britten’s walks would take in spectacular heathlands and the Beach with the crackle of sea wash on shingle

Clockwise from above: Britten on Aldeburgh Beach in 1959; The Red House; Britten and Pears in 1969 in front of Snape Maltings



his music to be accessible to and inclusive of everyone, he was clear about where his inspiration came from. “I write music now, in Aldeburgh, for people living there and further afield, indeed for anyone who cares to play it or listen to it,” he said. “But my music now has its roots in where I live and work.” Sound recordist Chris Watson was invited to capture the sounds heard by Britten on his ‘composition walks’ to mark his centenary and knows more than most people how unique Aldeburgh is. “It is one of the few places left in England where you can get away from 21st-century noise,” he says. “What’s interesting is that this part of Suffolk is a mosaic of small habitats, not massive expansive areas. There are a variety of sounds – Britten’s walks would take in deciduous woodland, spectacular heathlands; marshes and wetland; reed beds, which have that classic Suffolk signature sound of a papery hiss; and of course there is the beach with the crackle of sea wash on shingle. All of these sounds suffused Britten’s thoughts.” Although Suffolk and its raw landscapes were central to Britten’s work, the community was an incredibly important part of his motivation. His opera Noye’s Fludde was created for a cast of both professional and amateur musicians, and was designed to be staged in a community centre or town hall rather than a proper theatre.

There’s a nostalgic and yet enduring popularity about Britten’s work. Recently Hollywood director Wes Anderson used Noye’s Fludde as part of the plot for his film Moonrise Kingdom, having been in a performance of it as a child. Interestingly the costumes Anderson used for the children were largely birds – a nod to Britten’s love of the creatures; he was a keen ornithologist who could identify different species and teach birdsong. While Watson says there is no direct or literal translation of birdsong and other environmental sounds into Britten’s work, plenty of people do ‘hear’ Aldeburgh in his music and know he listened to the sounds of his Suffolk surroundings. “In certain pieces, such as in Peter Grimes when you listen to the four sea interludes – Dawn, Sunday Morning, Moonlight and Storm – Britten really describes the sea with music,” explains Reekie. “I defy anyone to listen to these pieces and not hear the scrunch of the shingle and the shriek of the seagull, the wind, the sea.” And it is through these natural sounds, above anything else, that Aldeburgh remains our link to one of the greatest classical composers of all time.

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The Dancing Years

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Roman civilization at the edge of an Empire

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A combination of picturesque villages, lively historic towns and rural scenes...

Escape, Explore and Enjoy...

Friendly and professional staff at our Information Centres will be delighted to help you make the most of your time in our area. We can help with accommodation enquiries and bookings; local attractions’ information, events, where to eat and drink plus much more... Marlow

Princes Risborough

High Wycombe

High Wycombe Information Centre Library Foyer, 5 Eden Place High Wycombe HP11 2DH Tel: 01494 421892 Follow us: @wycombetic

Marlow Information Centre 55a High Street (Entrance on Institute Road) Marlow SL7 1BA Tel: 01628 483597 Follow us: @marlowinfocentr

Princes Risborough Information Centre Tower Court, Horns Lane Princes Risborough HP27 0JA Tel: 01844 274795 Follow us: @risboroinfocent

For more information visit or email To book space call Julian +44 (0)207 349 3731

My Britain

Best ofBritish

The Hon Simon Howard is the owner of Castle Howard, York, one of Britain’s largest private residences, which has been in his family for 300 years and was the location of the 2008 film Brideshead Revisited. We asked him to share his best bits of Britain

SUNDAY ROAST You can't beat a traditional Sunday lunch of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and vegetables. Failing that, a spicy shepherd’s pie.



My Land Rover Discovery is a treasure because it goes anywhere, can carry all the family and dogs, and will take huge amounts of luggage.


I can think of no better place than home. Not only are we privileged to live in a wonderful house, but we are also surrounded by a fantastic landscape. WIMBLEDON FEVER


The person I admire most is Her Majesty The Queen. 98


The two weeks of Wimbledon mean that the television is on constantly, and the family gets frightfully excited by the whole event. If my wife and I can attend, we do, and she is lucky enough to be asked by friends each year.


The Star Inn at Harome in North Yorkshire is my favourite place to eat, for its ambience, excellent food, and charming owners.


Fast. Reliable. Convenient. The way travel should be 15 minutes, every 15 minutes between Heathrow Airport and London Paddington Station. To find out more visit Follow us on Twitter

Profile for The Chelsea Magazine Company

BRITAIN May/June 2013  

In this issue of BRITAIN we reveal a hidden, secret side of our country – from a beautiful pocket of the Midlands that is off the tourist tr...

BRITAIN May/June 2013  

In this issue of BRITAIN we reveal a hidden, secret side of our country – from a beautiful pocket of the Midlands that is off the tourist tr...