I’m just back from spending a couple of days in Barry, near Cardiff, with my son. While I was there I discovered a real gem – Dyffryn Gardens, which was once the home of Welsh coal-owners the Cory family but has recently been taken on a 50 year lease by the National Trust. The gardens were developed by John Cory with the help of Thomas Mawson, the landscape architect, and have been restored in recent years. John Cory’s third son, Reginald, who was a leading figure in the Royal Horticultural Society and a keen plant-hunter, was responsible for the dahlia trials held there between 1913 and 1914. Over 7000 species were planted for the trials and many have been replanted this year to mark the centenary, adding to the wonderful autumn colours of the gardens. As well as the six glorious beds at the front of the house, each with its own colour theme, others varieties are planted in the garden ‘rooms’ which make up much of the formal grounds. On a lovely, warm, autumn morning the beds were a magnet for photographers and I couldn’t avoid a couple wandering into my own camera lens!
Because of the work involved in maintaining the gardens volunteers were cutting down and digging up the beds ready for winter planting while I was there, even though they looked magnificent and many of the plants were still in bud. However, as they were selling the blooms in the estate shop I was able to come away with a large bunch of assorted dahlias and a pot of unknown colour and variety which I look forward to discovering next year!
I hope to post more from my visit there soon, but felt the amazing display of dahlias deserved one of their own!
Another trip west and back again in the past few days to look after Granddaughter while her parents went away on an ’adults only’ weekend on the West Wales coast. Left with a whole weekend to fill I looked for somewhere new to explore on Saturday and, as I have National Trust membership for both of us, that seemed an obvious place to start. We’ve already visited quite a few of their sites in the area, but there are still plenty of others. This time I chose Moseley Old Hall, partly because it had a story attached to it which I thought she might be interested in. I will add that she has a thirst for knowledge on all subjects and, as long as there is space where she can run around, she is quite happy looking round ‘old houses’!
Moseley Old Hall is quite a small property in National Trust terms. A late Tudor house built in 1600 and famous as one of the hiding places of Charles II during his escape to France after being defeated by Cromwell’s army at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. A Royalist, Roman Catholic household, complete with chapel, resident priest and priest hole to hide him in when the authorities came knocking… and very useful for hiding the fugitive king. Fortunately Granddaughter was fascinated by the story and had plenty of questions to ask. She was equally fascinated by the peacock roaming around the orchard where we had our picnic lunch!
I’ve included one shot of the parlour and couldn’t resist adding a view through the parlour window out onto the main gate and the ‘cottage’ garden. The others are taken at different points in the main hall, one showing the staircase where Charles was hurriedly taken to the priest’s bedroom, now known as ‘The King’s Room’ and still containing the bed that he slept in. The interior was heavily panelled and rather dark so I’ve used the ‘fill light’ option on each one – I don’t like using flash in places like this as I think it spoils the atmosphere for other visitors looking around. I’ve also added a view of the front of the house, looking onto the outside of the door and windows in the other shots. The original Tudor timbers were encased in brick by the Victorians! The ‘W’ worked into the gate represents the ‘Whitgreave’ family who owned the house from its construction in 1600 right through to 1925.
And, as always, we rounded off a very pleasant afternoon in the tea shop, where they did a very good white chocolate scone with fresh strawberries!