Last weekend we finally made it to Chastleton House in rural Oxfordshire after being forced to abandon a recent planned excursion courtesy of a Covid isolation period.
I was happy to be venturing to pastures new and even happier about the mix of warm sunshine and interesting cloud formations which always make for better photographs. Heads up, this is a photo heavy post.
I'd read Vicky's informative and engaging description of the property following her visit to this National Trust managed property earlier in the summer (Vintage Vixen: The Distancing Diaries - 9th & 10th June, 2021 (vintagevixon.blogspot.com) Inspired to visit and armed with some pre-existing knowledge of the place, we were able to relax and just soak up the atmosphere. Below was our first tantalising glimpse of the honeyed facade.
The pathway to the property passes a wonderful dovecote and the neighbouring St Mary's Church (built in the 12th Century).
We were encouraged by the volunteer on the gate to take advantage of tea and cakes on offer inside the church before our timed entry slot. The quintessentially English scene that greeted us outside the church appealed to my dark sense of humour. A church hall cake sale with proceeds going to charity was set up inside, with visitors seated at various plastic garden tables and chairs dotted amongst the gravestones. The volunteer's cake sale schtick obviously worked. As we arrived, an orderly queue was already forming on the path through the centre of the graveyard. Talk about God's Waiting Room!
Given that they had sold out of ginger and rum cake (I was only interested in the boozy cake), we opted to have a wonder around the graveyard instead.
At the far end of the churchyard, just in front of a low stone wall, with breathtaking views across the Oxfordshire countryside, I spotted this much more recent gravestone.
It is the final resting place of former Eton student, scholar and Bletchley Park codebreaker (recruited straight from University), Stephen Freer, who died in 2017 at the impressive age of 97. In press cuttings, he was described as "a kind and gentle soul." Where better to rest a while?
Moving onto the main event, this stunning example of a Jacobean country house was built around the time that Shakespeare was toiling over The Tempest and MacBeth.
...it immediately had me wanting to up sticks and relocate to the Cotswolds. With residents including Jeremy Clarkson, Alex James and Kate Moss, we all know that house prices are through the roof in these parts. Every wealthy London type and gentleman farmer wants a piece of England's green and pleasant land.
That said, I'm realistic in my expectations. I definitely see myself moving into Chastleton House, but would be quite content to occupy just about any corner of the property...here for example. This redundant space was a bit of a mystery to the volunteers working at the house, so I posed the question on Twitter. The Brickworks Museum suggested it would have been a good place for naughty children. I'm going with puppet show stage.
As with houses of this size, the windows were numerous...
The gardens were relatively small but perfectly formed...
...with a croquet lawn,
kitchen garden and greenhouse,
...and resident snoozing cat.
Inside, the hallway was a time capsule - relatively untouched by the 21st century. The large windows and deep sills were a house plant gardener's dream.