Tag Archives: National Trust

Four Days, Four Counties, Four National Trust Properties

In what is becoming an annual tradition we have once again, having seen off family and friends, got out and about to make the most of our National Trust membership. Last year we did five National Trust properties over an eight day period and the year before five visits over five counties in seven days. For reasons that I can’t quite work out we didn’t have quite so much time this year.

Once again I have included the price for the two of us had we not had annual membership.

The Vyne, Hampshire
There’s not much to see of the house at the Vyne at present as the roof is undergoing extensive renovation work. It isn’t long since we last visited and were able to go up and inspect the work and I had hoped to go up once again and see the progress but, alas, the last trip goes up at 14:30 and we arrived at 14:31. Grr! We had to make do with a muddy walk around the woods instead.
Friday 29th December

Cliveden, Buckinghamshire
A new entry, at least for our post-Christmas challenge. Cliveden is probably best know as the home of the Astors and the location for the Profumo affair which gave rise to the very famous picture of Christine Keeler, naked, looking over the back of a chair.

Now the ugly house has been turned into a posh hotel and the beautiful grounds turned over to the National Trust for the hoi polloi to roam.
Saturday 30th December

Osterley Park, Middlesex
Osterley Park must win the prize for the noisiest National Trust property that we have been to. It is bordered by the M4 on one side and the A4 (Great West Road) on the other. Add to this that it is right under the Heathrow flight path and you get an idea of just how much noise pollution there is. Nevertheless it is a pleasant walk.
Sunday 31st December

Grey’s Court, Oxfordshire
A very muddy end to our visits today but at least it was close to home.

We had intended to also go on to Nuffield Place but, unfortunately, it was closed today so that put an end to that.
Monday 1st January

Checking the National Trust website I can see that an annual joint membership is £108 a year. The total saved this year when visiting the four properties was £91 so one more trip around one of them and we will have made our membership back.

One for the Vyne

I love that naughty feeling of being somewhere that you shouldn’t and others aren’t, don’t you? Sneaking off behind the scenes away from the crowds and experiencing something you feel only few before you have. However, at the same time I am a huge conformist and no rule breaker and so would never nip off somewhere I hadn’t been invited. So an open invitation to visit the roof of the National Trust property The Vyne seemed to tick all the right boxes!

The Vyne is an attractive property in Hampshire that seems to be in pretty good nick given its age. However, a huge storm a few years ago revealed that the roof was leaking like the proverbial and needed desperate measures to get it back into shape. And so the Trust embarked on a multi-million pound project to restore the roof on the property.

The Trust could have decided just to get on with it and reopened once it was done. However, it is commendable that instead they chose to design the scaffolding so that members of the public could walk above the ongoing works and see areas that you would never normally see and won’t see again. And wow, what a thing of beauty the scaffolding is.

The intension had been to go up with my Dad and leave the women folk down below with a cream tea but everyone expressed a keen interest in going up and the lift provided made this easy for all. Once up there Mum took great pleasure in finding all the Lego mini figures that had been left in interesting places!

From the ground the roof looks like one single continuous unit but once you are up on the scaffolding several metres above the roof level it is very clearly not the case. The roof goes off in all sorts of directions, presumably where the property has been extended over the years.

The work involves not only replacing the roof tiles but also adding insulation, righting leaning chimney pots, replacing poor stone work, repointing and installing Sky multi-room (only joking). It is a major project and is costing over £5M.

While the roof work was interesting it was the scaffolding itself that I found fascinating. The notices said that it took “months” to design and four months to put up and I can well believe it. Having had scaffolding put up over our conservatory once I know just how expensive that can be.

All in all it is a great experience and if you are in the area it is well worth a visit particularly as it is no additional cost and certainly more interesting than the inside of the house 😉 !

Seven Days, Five Counties, Five National Trust Properties

In keeping with many we used the time between Christmas and the New Year to blow off a few cobwebs and get out and about. After a few lapsed years we had renewed our National Trust membership this year and so decided to try and get to a different property each time we went out. In the end we managed five in five different counties, which I don’t think is too shabby.

On the first few visits the weather was cold and crisp with a frost on the ground. By the end of the week the weather had turned and it was drizzly and grey and that is very much reflected in the pictures below. If you wrap up well the former is much preferred.

So without further ado here are the places we visited:

Grey’s Court, Oxfordshire
Grey’s is a good place to visit as it has a mixture of walks, a walled garden and maze to explore. The five-bean soup was also welcome after a walk round the grounds.
Sunday 28th December
Amount saved: £21.60

Osterley Park, Middlesex
We’d not been to Osterley before but again it has a good mixture of woodland walks and some formal gardens to explore. I can imagine that the latter would look great during spring and summer and so I can imagine that we will be visiting again. Lunch was in the old stables and was good.
Monday 29th December

The Vyne, Hampshire
Another family favourite with a long walk through the woods adjoining the property. We arrived at the tea shop too early for lunch but Helen enjoyed her cream tea.
Wednesday 31st December

Claremont Landscape Gardens, Surrey
This was the place that I enjoyed the least as it was too formal for my liking and was relatively small compared to the others which meant that even though it wasn’t crowded you did keep bumping into people on the way round, not something that happened on the woodland walks of the others. Just a cup of tea for me please!
Thursday 1st January

Basildon Park, Berkshire
My absolute favourite place to be. Once, a long time ago, at NCT classes were were given an exercise to imagine a calming place that we would like to be. Both Helen and I, independently, chose Basildon and it still is a lovely calming place to be. This was particularly true on this damp and drizzly day and we were the only ones to brave the long walk through the woods. We certainly felt that that we had earned our soup (butternut squash and red pepper) and cream teas!
Saturday 3rd January

Whilst this wasn’t an exercise in saving money we do like to think that we have made the most of our membership so I totted up how much the entrance fees would have been had we paid separately and it came to a total of £73.40. From memory we paid about £75 for a (discounted) annual membership for two and given that we have been to several other properties since rejoining we have definitely more than saved the membership fee. Of course we could have chosen to go to some public places instead but would the soup and cream teas have been as good. I very much doubt it!