Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Dinton Pastures Pleasure Park - Berkshire

Some parks go a step or two beyond the norm. That is what you will find at Dinton Pastures.


Apart from the boating lakes and wildlife trails, plus the extensive play areas, there are also activities designed to suit all ages, from toddlers, through teens to adults, mature or otherwise. There is organised swimming and boating, playgroups and well structured courses on a wide range of rural subjects and pastimes.


Worth a visit if you have an hour or two to spare.


Dinton Pastures Pleasure Park

RG10 0TH


Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Chaddleworth - Berkshire

A few short miles from Brightwalton is the village of Chaddleworth, boasting a population of 500.


There is little doubt that the village has Saxon origins. Claims that it might be even older have not be proved emphatically. The main focus in the village for hundreds of years was the Priory that stood where Chaddleworth House stands today. Like many other such establishments, it fell foul of the Dissolution of the Monasteries and became the property of the Nelson Family.


The Nelson's were happy enough for around 250 years, but in 1809 they replaced the priory with the current Chaddleworth House.


Chaddleworth House

St Andrews - RG20 7DT






Brightwalton - Berkshire

Brightwalton does not warrant a day trip, but for anyone in the area it is worth a detour.


The village is in two halves. The more modern half could not claim to be attractive, but the other end features a cluster of thatched cottages and an interesting church.


The village existed pre-Norman Conquest days and the Domesday Book records, in 1086, the church of All Saints already built and serving the local populace. This church lasted until 1863, but then it was demolished and replaced by a Gothic Revival-styled church which has now been around long enough to be pretty at given times of the year.


RG20 7BN





Saturday, 23 June 2018

Hazelby House - Berkshire


Hazelby House is near the village of East Woodhay. It is in Berkshire but is very close to the boundary with Hampshire.

The house was built between 1900 and 1910 from a design by Sir Reginald Theodore Blomfield for Captain Sandbach. Some 40 years ago the house was bought by Martin and Prue Lane-Fox and they spent the next 20 years creating the 10 acre garden that is the highlight of the 350 acre estate.

The garden is divided into sections, featuring ornamental ponds, terraces, a lily pond and other areas that are themed. The house and grounds are not normally open to the public, but events are staged there from time to time in cooperation with the Hampshire Garden Trust.

Hazelby House

RG20 0AZ

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Caversham Court Gardens - Berkshire

Caversham Court is another of those places that fell foul of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.


St Peter's Church was built during the 12th Century. A rectory was built alongside it, and following King Henry VIII's intervention it was gifted to Christ Church, Oxford. The rectory housed many influential local families over the next 400 years, and eventually became known at Cavendish Court.


The building had a chequered life. It came under attack during the Civil War. Later it was rebuilt in the Tudor style. Parts of the staircase and ceiling that sported bullet holes from the attack are preserved and can be viewed at the Museum of Reading.


The gardens were originally created over a 20 year period, commencing in 1660. In 1993, ownership of the house and gardens passed to Reading Corporation. The house was demolished but the gardens and other important buildings were opened to the public in 1934. When Reading Borough Council took over, they closed everything to visitors until the garden was reopened in 2009.


Caversham Court Gardens

RG4 7AD



Monday, 18 June 2018

Houghton House - Bedfordshire

We rarely detour anywhere to take in ruins, but sometimes the history of a place makes the journey worthwhile.


The Historic Houses Association tells us that Houghton House was built in the early 17th century by Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke. It was intended as a hunting lodge. The design was neither one thing nor the other as it included both Jacobean and Classical features.


It lasted as a dwelling for close to 200 years, and is believed to be the inspiration for the ‘Palace Beautiful’ in the John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim's Progress.


It was dismantled in 1797, but rather than simply razing it to the ground, is was decided to keep the shell as attractive ruins and these were featured as part of the Ampthill Park.


MK45 2EZ







Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Wickham House - Berkshire


Wickham House in Newbury, Berkshire, looks nothing like its original form. Originally a rectory was built on the site in the late 1700s. In the mid 1800s the Rector was one William Nicholson, an Irishman of some considerable wealth. First he totally rebuilt the nearby church of St Swithum, and then he turned his attention to the Rectory itself. During 1855 and 1958 he added a tower, large bay windows, a cloister, conservatory and finally a vinery. Other additions that he had were later demolished.

The house we see today is available for weddings, conferences and functions, and the gardens are opened to the public when it is deemed that they have something to show.
Wickham House

RG20 8HD