A few weeks ago we visited one of our favourite places - The Manor House at Donington Le Heath.
I don't know what it is about this place but I love it!
We have visited three or four times over the years and things have changed since our first visit which was, I seem to remember, on a cold, autumn morning. Things were a little different then; more open to your own interpretation, with some rooms unfurnished and fewer sign posts and information boards.
Now the manor house has become more popular as a visitor attraction there is far more to see inside with special events, historical re-enactments and local exhibitions. There is also a souvenir shop and a couple of computers which offer further information and virtual tours for those unable to get up the stairs.
I love the soft grey stone of the building
It was quite a warm, sunny day when we visited and the herb garden was a riot of colour and glorious scents.
The lavender growing along the base of the walls was buzzing with bees.
On the other side of the window above is the kitchen. This is one of the favourite rooms with visitors as there is so much of interest in the hearth, on the table and in the deep windowsills.
Through the arch on the left of the photo above are the virtual tour computers.
Upstairs is the great chamber with windows at either end so it is light and airy.
In a small room off the great chamber is a four poster bed. The legend is that it is the bed on which King Richard III laid down to rest on August 21st 1485 - the eve of the Battle of Bosworth. It is said that the bed was brought to the Blue Boar Inn in Leicester for him as it was richly carved as befitted a King.
The bed spent many years at the Blue Boar Inn and was passed from Landlord to Landlord before it came into the hands of the Herrick family of Beaumanor Hall in the village of Old Woodhouse and is now on permanent loan to Leicestershire County Council. There are other legends attributed to the bed - including hidden treasure and a murder. You'll have to visit and read the book to find out more!
The herbs in the recreated 17th century garden are all labelled with quotes from Culpeper's 'Complete Herbal' of 1652.
There is a lovely cafe in the barn and we have eaten in there on a couple of occasions, once, a few years ago, on my birthday which was a lovely treat. This time we had a picnic with us which we ate at our next destination and which I'll write about in a later post.
Parts of the house date back to the late 13th century when it was owned by the De Sees family. The last family to live in the house were the Hill family who left in 1960 when the hall was sold by the Harley Trust, set up by owner Thomas Harley during the 17th century. Tenant farmers lived in the house from 1670 until 1960.
It was bought by a local farmer who used it as a pig sty! In 1965 the house was designated as an ancient monument and was purchased and gradually restored by Leicestershire County Council.
Last but not least it is, amazingly, free to go in and look around and some of the events are free too!