Tag: English Heritage

Norfolk Mini-Series: A Visit to Castle Rising

This is the 3rd post of our mini Norfolk series.  If you’ve missed the last two, please click here and here.  Thank you!

Right after we visited Norfolk lavender farm, we headed off to Castle Rising which wasn’t too far from the farm.  A bonus since we wanted to visit as much places as we can in a day.

Castle Rising is a medieval castle which was first built in 1138 by Norman lord William d’ Albini for his new wife, the widow of Henry I.  Later in the 14th century, it also became the home of Queen Isabella, another widow and who also supposedly murdered her husband King Edward II.  Ah these royals and their secrets and scandals.

I love old ruins, the older, the better.  I just can’t wrap my head around the idea that a building has been standing all these years.  I touch the walls and wonder what it was like in the medieval times.  What were their lives like?  What were their thoughts, dreams and fears?  Do you wonder the same too?

You approach the castle from the side and it is located on a hill.  I believe many years ago, this was probably the site of a medieval village surrounding the castle.  Like many, it is surrounded by a moat, but it’s currently a dry one.

And there it is, Castle Rising in all it’s glory and there’s  little T on the ground, contemplating how it was like centuries ago.

Can you imagine Queen Isabella entering the castle, dressed in her finest gowns and jewellery.  Upon entering that door, you step into a concrete stairs leading into the castle.

Can you see how much it has been restored?  All these years and these steps and walls are still standing.

This is the first room you step-into from the concrete stairs.  Of course, what is left are only walls and no more ceiling.

Apparently, when the ceiling collapsed (don’t know which century), they had to dig into the walls to create a hallway.  See how thick the walls are:

Little T had fun exploring every nook and cranny of this medieval castle.

Surprisingly the rooms on the top floor were more restored than the ones below.

Do you think Queen Isabella whispered to these walls and admitted her guilt?  I don’t think it’s ever been established whether she killed the king or not.  It’s one of those royal mysteries that’s never been solved.

And outside, T also had the chance to explore the site of a Norman chapel that actually even predates Castle Rising.

Too much exploring can tire out even an energetic little girl like T.

Do you enjoy exploring medieval castles too?

A Visit to Wrest Park

It’s been a while since we’ve used our English Heritage membership, but when we visited my in-laws over the half-term break, we finally had the chance to use it.

Wrest Park is a lovely Grade II listed country home in Silsoe Bedfordshire.  The facade actually reminded me a bit of Napoleon’s ostentatious Château de Compiègne in France which we visited a couple of years ago, although of course, not as grand and garish, the gardens though is equally beautiful.

Since it was half-term break, we took little T’s cousin K with us so they could spend more time together.

The girls were not as impressed with the staircase as they were with the painting on the ceiling.

The sitting room, although they really should’ve called this the cherubim room, since you could find them in every corner.  I’m not a big fan of these chubby little angels, so I zoned out when the guide started pointing them out to the girls.  Surprisingly, T turned out to be disinterested in them too.

I found the Victorian conservatory really interesting though, too bad it wasn’t open to the public.

During World War II, Wrest Park was used as a convalescent home for injured soldiers.  I can imagine this was one of the rooms used for their patients.  Can you imagine recuperating in a room with such big windows and lovely views from outside?

The girls of course were itching to go outside.  It was a lovely day and almost felt like Spring has come and so we decided that the day was too beautiful to spend it indoors.

The grounds did not disappoint …

So much to see and do.

After walking for at least an hour, we decided it was time for some lunch at the cafe via the orangery.

The girls went wild inside the empty orangery, running around and shrieking like loonies …

I laughed when I saw these two statues on the facade of building.  They look like they were actually holding their heads as if they have a headache.  I don’t blame them, the girls shrill voices must have done that to them.

It was fun though.

Do visit Wrest Park if you’re in the area.

It’s so worth it.

Coping with the Wet Weather the British Way

Last weekend was a wet one. Nothing new there of course, But I’m learning the British way now, which is “Stiff upper lip, plod on” and “Everything is jolly good even if it’s bloody raining!”.  Armed with waterproof rain coats, wooly hats, scarves, gloves, a flask of hot chocolate, another one with tea, some lovely biscuits and a smelly dog, we jumped in our car and drove to Penhallam Manor.

The first and last time we were here was in the autumn of 2014.  As mentioned on that post, Penhallam is an English Heritage site, with the remains of a 13th century medieval manor.  There’s hardly anything left, but the very bare bones of the house, but still worth visiting.

This time though, we went with some friends.  While waiting,  T and I decided to explore the nearby woods and left the historian to wait by the gate for our friends in case they missed the turning.  And they did!

I love this woodland, but never had the chance to explore it, this time we thought we’d manage it. But we never got that far, because T’s friends have arrived.  So we decided to head back.

There were four adults, three kids, two dogs, and a baby in a sling, stomping in the muddy walk towards the remains of a gothic manor.

And then it started raining even before we could get there, but no one seemed fazed by it.  Everyone just kept walking on, chatting and no one mentioned the rain, except me, who muttered under my breath.

When we got there, in spite of the rain, T’s friend stripped her rain coat off and started running around without it.  Thank goodness T didn’t follow suit and was sensible enough to keep her coat on, even though her hood wasn’t on.

Then it was a riot of kids and dogs running around like loonies.  By this time, I had to stop taking photos, I didn’t want my camera to get wet and was busy making sure the kids didn’t fall in the very cold water surrounding the manor.

After a snack of hot chocolate (tea for the grown-ups) and biscuits, they started having fun with muddy puddles. As the narrator of  Peppa pig would say “Everyone loves jumping up and down in muddy puddles”.

Do you have anything fun planned this weekend?

If you can trust the weather report, it’s supposed to be a sunny day, albeit a cold one tomorrow.  We are definitely heading out, most probably to another English Heritage or National Trust property.  That’s one of the reasons why we keep our membership with both of them, it’s so handy to have, especially down here in Cornwall for day trips with little ones like this one.

Have a lovely weekend folks!


Autumn Day Out

Ever since little T started school, we make it a point to go out for walks over the weekend when we can.  And last Saturday was no exception.

Being members of both the National Trust and English Heritage, is easy for us to plan a day-trip out without going too-far or spending too much.  Most of our little adventures in fact cost, almost next-to nothing.

Last weekend brought us to Penhallam Manor, an English Heritage medieval property not far from where we live.  When I say property, it really is more like a ruin, or the remains of a 13th century ruin.

As soon as we parked, I noticed this scary-looking haunted house barely visible from all the surrounding trees.

Up-sound scary music.

And here’s little T, who didn’t seem bothered at all.

In our English Heritage book, it mentioned that it was about a ten-minute walk from the parking lot to the ruins.

It didn’t feel like that at all.  Maybe because we were all too busy having fun, running after Doc, trying to grab the stick in his mouth … just to annoy/excite him 😉

As you can see from the photo, he absolutely loved the game of catch-me-if-you-can.

The game ended as we spied the gate not far away from where little T stood.

Little T reading the history of this medieval manor.

This 13th century manor was owned by the Cardinhams family who were apparently a family of minor barons who made money from being in good terms with King John (1199-1216).  Penhallam was probably just one of their many houses in England.  It wasn’t actually that big, judging from the ruin.

It’s a manor surrounded by a moat and because the Lord of the Manor didn’t have any heirs (only daughters), by the 14th century, the house had already fallen into decline.

This is what it must have looked like during the medieval times.

And there goes little T, eager to cross the moat!

There wasn’t really much left especially since grass has covered what was left of the medieval bricks of the manor.  But you could still see the outline of where the walls once stood.

Some may think that it isn’t a place worth visiting, but if you’re just looking for a place to have a short walk with your dog and little one, and you live nearby – it’s definitely worth a visit.

The only problem was that we couldn’t find a place to have our little picnic!  So we decided to look for a different place instead.  But got stuck in the Cornish traffic:

Yep, this is what a traffic jam looks like Cornwall.  You get stuck behind a herd of cows, sheep or horses.

And after a bit of a drive, we ended up at …

the beach on Widemouth bay in Bude …

which was actually filled with sea-foam!

Little T actually had fun playing with it.  She called it bubble mixture!

We ended the day-out with …


Don’t you just love day-outs, especially ones that end up with ice-cream?


Have a lovely weekend folks!

Tintagel Castle and the Little Knights

We live near Tintagel castle which we’ve never visited before, but a week or so ago, we finally decided to visit King Arthur’s birthplace, that is if the legend is indeed true.  To make the visit even more fun for little T,  her best-friend F and his mum also came along.

It’s actually about time we used our English Heritage membership, especially since the first and last time we used it was last year when we visited Stonehenge.

Little T and F were excited since playing knights in shinning armours are one of their current favourite games to play.  Who said little girls can’t be knights?  They definitely can, especially in T’s world.

We were a bit surprised to see many tourists around, especially since Spring break was over by the time we visited.  We were dead wrong.

And of course before entering the castle, the little knights had to check out the goods in the gift shop first.

This cave is known as Merlin’s Cave made famous in Tennyson’s poem Idyllis of the King.

It is a bit of a climb to go up the ruins, especially if you’re as un-exercised as I am.  The little ones though, didn’t mind the steps at all.

They went up those stairs without whinging much, in fact, I think I whinged more than they did!

This is the site of a medieval village, way up on a hill.

The view through the entrance of the medieval site….

View from an ancient window.

Those steps will lead you up to the ruins of King Arthur’s castle.

Can you imagine what this house/building must have looked like during those ancient times, over-looking the sea?  I’m wondering if it was used as a look-out.

And there’s our little knights, busy playing in what was once a garden during the medieval times.

Inspecting the cave for dragons, the knights were disappointed.

This was once the chapel.

And this is what’s left of the castle …

Time to go home now… but first …

back to the gift shop where the two knights decided to ditch their swords to buy some bows and arrows.

While there’s really nothing much left of the castle, it is however surrounded by magnificent views and stunning scenery, so it’s definitely still worth a visit.  And you could also schedule your tour and time it with a historical re-enactment.  That would definitely be fun, I still have yet to see one!

This post is linked-up with Coombe Mill’s #CountryKids.

and #PoCoLo

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Stonehenge … Finally.

We pass by Stonehenge in Wiltshire every time we drive up from Cornwall to visit my in-laws who live in Woburn Sands, Milton Keynes.  We do this about three or four times in a year, sometimes even more.  I’ve never visited the world-famous stones before and the last time my husband did was when he was a little boy, not older than little T now.

The first time I arrived in England of course, the boyfriend (now husband) asked me if I wanted to visit.  Who wouldn’t want to visit a mysterious pre-historic world-famous monument right?  I definitely wanted to!  But when we arrived, there was a very long snakey line of tourists that put me off instantly.  After a bit of a wait, we decided to continue our journey to Cornwall instead.

Every time we drive by, there is always a long-line of tourists, rain or shine, no fail, day in day out.  But of course, with our friend’s visit, we finally had a definite reason to visit the world famous heritage.

There were already loads of tourist buses and cars parked outside when we arrived.  And there waiting for us was the dreaded long cue.  The husband had a brilliant idea!  We’ve been thinking of joining the English Heritage for the longest time and kept putting it off because we are already members of the National Trust.  For those who aren’t familiar with these institutions, the National Trust and English Heritage own most of the important and historical castles, monuments, stately homes etc.  A lot of these tourist places can also be very expensive, but as members, you can of course get in for free.  So if you’re in the UK, it’s best to join, not only will you be able to get in for free, but most importantly by paying membership, it will be your own little way of helping these historic places to survive.  Another thing, if you’re a parent of a young child and live in an area where there are lots of National Trust or English Heritage properties, these properties will save you from having no-where to go to somewhere fun to go during the weekends.  They are great places to visit as a family, especially during Christmas where they always have something going on like “Meet Father Christmas” or listen to Christmas carols sung in 17th century chapels, that sort of thing.

So that’s what we did, we joined the English Heritage and as new members, we didn’t have to join the long queue, woohoo!

T joining the crowd of tourists surrounding Stonehenge.

Just to complete the ambiance, we saw a druid standing near the stones, she looked a bit lost though.

And of course, one must never leave Stonehenge without having your photo taken.

What’s the story behind this photo?  To go near the stones, you have to walk through a short tunnel and I noticed tourists who were walking towards us, stop, look up and point and take a picture of something on the ceiling.  When it was our turn, I looked behind and saw what caught their attention:  A bird’s nest with little baby birds chirping away and of course, I did what all the other tourists did, took a photo.

This post is linked up with Podcast’s What’s the Story?

Exploring an Ancient Village

If we see men and women dressed all in white, I’m out of here!  

I said to no one in particular as we got off the car in the early evening of the first few days of September.  It wasn’t warm, and it wasn’t really cold either, but the temperature definitely dropped so I wore my cardigan and zipped up little T’s hoody as she asked me –

Why mummy?  

I wondered then how could you explain the wicker man to a three-year-old?  So I just said that mummy is just being silly.  But there was certainly a bit of an eerie and mysterious air in the atmosphere as we trundled along to find the ancient village of Carn Euny.

After the hunt for the Merry Maidens, we decided to do more exploring, so  J armed with a map and a book of Cornwall’s archeological heritage directed us on our little quest.  Don’t ask us how we managed with an American guide, let’s just say, we didn’t exactly end up where we wanted to, but the final destination proved to be even better than the original one.  After all, stumbling upon an old hamlet of the Iron Age and Roman-British period isn’t exactly a regular occurrence  in one’s life right?  I didn’t think so at least …

There is still a lot visible in Carn Euny, you’ll find lots of remnants of ancient house walls in a circular and a window like this one:

See how thick the stones are?

I wonder though if it was thick enough to protect the inhabitants from whatever harsh weather conditions they had at that time.

Is this where they grind their corn?

Entrance to underground stone-chamber, T not sure whether she wants to go in.

I guess the most remarkable structure that can be found in this Ancient village is the underground stone chamber which was probably used as storage.

In the end, she couldn’t resist her curiosity and happily went in.

and out, in and out.

Can you imagine what it must have been like in the Iron Age?  I’ll tell you what it was like, peaceful.  Imagine the absence of the sounds of technology, transportation and other 21st century noise pollution.


That’s what it must have been like.

So if you’re in Cornish countryside, come around and visit Carne Euny, an ancient village.  For directions on how to get there, click here.

This post was linked up with Coombe Mill’s Country Kids.