Sunday, October 24, 2010

In the National Forest

Even though the day started with a ground frost so cold that I had to pour warm water over the wheelie bins so that I could open them and the frozen water in the bird bath had to be broken, by the time we reached our destination the sun was warm and casting so many shadows that even the reflections had reflections.

We packed a picnic of a flask of warm, homemade butternut squash soup and sun-dried tomato rolls and set out to visit Staunton Harold which is now in an area designated as The National Forest.  I love this view of the lovely cedar tree by the water in front of the Hall and church.  It is private now but I remember going in there years ago when it was a Sue Ryder home.

I love these two statues on the entrance gates (known as the Golden Gates) - a hound and a stag - they are the supporters of the Shirley family coat of arms.  .

The church belongs to the National Trust and is open for viewing in the afternoons.  I remember being shown around many years ago by an elderly lady dressed all in black - she was full of fascinating information.  The church was built in 1653 by Sir Robert Shirley in open defiance of Oliver Cromwell's puritan regime.  It is one of a very few churches built after the execution of Charles I in 1649 and before the restoration of Charles II in 1660.

The present house dates from the 1760s and 1770s and was built by the 5th Lord Ferrers.  It was the family home of the Shirley family for over 500 years.  During the second World War it was used to hold prisoners of war.  Sold in 1954 it became a Leonard Cheshire home and later a Sue Ryder hospice.  It is now in private hands.

The Stable Block  now houses the Ferrars Centre for Arts and Crafts and there are some lovely shops in the courtyard.

A lovely Deli - this wasn't there the last time we visited.

The Green Man Gallery

We went back to our car for lunch then set out on a walk into Bignalls Wood.

The light was so intense in the low winter sun I was struggling to take photos as I have great difficulty seeing anything at all in the strong sunshine.  

There were many different saplings and young trees in the plantation including these spruce trees.

The sky was so blue with lots of lovely cloud formations; crows cawed in the trees, kestrels hovered over open ground before swooping for prey and Ryanair planes passed quietly overhead on their way to and from East Midlands airport - leaving trails in the sky.


  1. What a wonderful chronicle of your day. The gardens and shops look so rejuvenating.

  2. It looks like a lovely day Rosie after the frosty start. I bet the soup and rolls were very welcome!

  3. I missed the frosty start as I had a lie in!! The first one in ages! Ive never been here, so I'll have to pop it on my list - it looks lovely. xxx

  4. What a great day you had. Those statues on the gate posts are fascinating. The blue sky could be summer but I bet it was chilly!

  5. Looks like a great destination for a day out - somewhere I've never visited. I like places where you can combine a nature walk with a bit of sightseeing and retail therapy!

  6. I can't believe the amount of frost people are having ... we haven't had any here yet, but it is very chilly!
    Your photos are wonderful Rosie.
    We used to raise money for the Sue Ryder charity when I was in secondary school. I vaguely remember a visit ... it's possible she came to our school to give a talk, but I could be mistaken, it's so long ago!
    Have a great week! Love Kathy xxx

  7. It's been so lovely popping over here today Rosie. Despite feeling rather low lately your lovely roving posts reinforce the belief that there is so much beauty in this season too.

    I'm really enjoying watching 'A History of England' - how fortunate for the village to participate in such an illuminating series.


  8. What a lovely palette of colours in your pictures!
    have a good week!

  9. Lovely church tower, Rosie. Why was building of this church a defiance?
    Would have loved to visit the breakfast deli!

  10. Jeanette, the church was built with all the trappings of a Catholic or High Anglican building during a strict puritan regime when all things like statues, icons, stained glass windows, high alters and florid decoration was forbidden.

  11. I'm intrigued to know what numbers 1-10 where? xxx

  12. The De Ferrers family were very big around south Derbyshire. Twyford and Stenson were also De Ferrers holdings.

    I visited Staunton Harold during the summer, but the weather was not so good.

  13. It's a great place! I go there about once a month for a mooch around the Ferrers Gallery etc and sometimes stretch the budget to a meal at the Tearooms...well worht the pennies and very filling!
    The Breadfirst shop sells some wonderful edibles, I like the olive flatbread and can be known to sulk if they've sold out of it LOL!

    Sandie xx

  14. Looks like you had a lovely day, even if it did start of cold.

  15. It's been many years since I last visited Staunton Harold. The Arts and Craft place had only just started up but I remember that before that when it was the Sue Ryder home we would visit and go to the market garden opposite the stables to buy plants. Thanks for showing it to me. It's love;y to know what has happened to all the places from my childhood.x

  16. never visited but must, thanks for the tour guide. Helen x