Today George and I went off to Audley End for the day. It is on our doorstep, and when we first came to the area some 47 years ago we went several times with various visitors, but I don't think we have been for about 20 years (apart from the odd concert). The Telegraph were offering 'two for the price of one' to Telegraph Subscribers and as they were doing a Recreation this weekend we decided to go. It is of course a lovely sight -
and when they are playing cricket it just looks SO quintessentially English. But this morning we headed for the kitchens, first the laundry rooms -
When we moved into Lordship Farm we found one of these dollies, exactly the same as this, and DD2 now keeps it in her ownstairs loo with toilet rolls on the handle!
I have to say that English Heritage have done a first class job with the films being shown on the walls, here showing a laundrymaid doing the ironing. Life must have been so hard for those girls, up to their elbows in water with none of our easy washing powders and detergents. Then we saw the kitchens where they were recreating a meal from 1861, with a very stern cook directing the kitchen maids. This reminded us that it ws time to go and have some lunch!
Then we attacked the house. Very grand, and when it was built it was twice or three times the size it is now. All the room stewards were very pleasant and happy to chat to us and we saw some portraits of George's Howard ancestors.......I think. There is an enormouse collection of stuffed birds which made me feel a bit squeamish but it was amazing to get right up close to huge eagles with frighteningly sharp beaks. But the little song bird were pathetic, I thought. This is looking down into the main hall - I don't think I should have taken it but I truly did not see a sign saying no photography.
This was a stable boy grooming Smiler, one of the good tempered horses they keep there and he was letting some of the children help him . The 16th century stable block is delightful. We walked round the kichen garden and into the glasshouses where we saw this lovely display of geraniums (or should I say pelargoniums)
Then we had a pot of tea and one piece of coffee cake between us (saving ourselves for dinner) and as we left for home the field behind the house was already packed with the picknicking audience for tonight's Prom in the Park. It would have been nice to stay but it was getting very overcast so I think they were in for a chilly evening. But we had a very pleasant Derby and Joan day out.