Monday, 24 September 2012


Downton Abbey has just returned to the air in the UK for it's third season and from where I watched the first episode the room was divided. Half of us were hooked from the first nanosecond, and the other half were annoyed by the ridiculous inaccuracies, even more ridiculous story lines and the insanely long ad breaks and so left to go to the pub. (I was in the first group).

For those of you that haven't heard of it (who are you?), Downton Abbey is a crazily popular TV drama that has now been nominated for - and has won - Baftas, Emmys and Golden Globes and is shown in over 100 countries worldwide. When I first borrowed the DVD from a friend I told my husband it was rumoured to be really good and he took one look at the cover and point blank refused to watch it. Although "never judge a DVD by it's cover" is not a well-known saying - it's the same principal - so I convinced him to give it a go and we watched the whole first season in 2 days.

Of course the main visual feature of the programme is Downton Abbey itself which is filmed at the incredible Highclere Castle in Hampshire, UK (above). I have never visited Highclere but having watched Downton I now want to be one of the bus loads of tourists that go and nose around (although having checked on the website it's currently sold out - that's the Downton effect for you). Just that opening credits scene walking up to the castle in the beautiful grounds gives me shivers. Ooohhhh.

So, inspired by DA, and being in the UK at the moment on holiday in Cornwall I thought I'd go and visit my nearest National Trust country house.* 

*Let's just have a little interlude here. I don't know at what point in my life I turned into one of those people that decides to go and visit a National Trust house in my free time but it seems to have snuck up on me. I know, I was shocked too.

This led me (and my poor mother-in-law who agreed to come with) to Lanhydrock near Bodmin. Now, Highclere this ain't, but it's definitely more than your average 2 up 2 down. Look below. See?

(I can't tell you how hard it is to get these National Trust peeps out the way)

It's actually quite an imposing and uninviting house filled with a warren of rooms (upstairs at least - they're pretty huge downstairs to be fair) but sadly the family who previously lived there died out and the last living owner donated it to the national trust in the 1950's. Now over 200,000 people visit a year. (Seriously who ARE these people that I am now one of)? 
I am fascinated by the whole "upstairs/downstairs" divide in these huge homes and Lanhydrock at one stage apparently had 80 staff living and working in the house to look after the family - you can look around some of the servants rooms up in the attic. 
(Man ALIVE what I could do with 80 staff....)

The other thing I love about these great houses is the sheer amount of rooms they have each dedicated to a single purpose, none of this open plan shizzle we're used to these days. Landhyrock has more than 50 rooms - yup, 50 - I'll just give you a little taster of my faves...
Bakehouse /Pastry room /Meat Larder /Dairy /Lamp Room /Gun Room /Billiard room /Smoking Room /School room /Linen Room / Luggage Room / Day + Night Nurseries / Lumber Room


Did you know that a lumber room is basically just a room where you store old furniture, furniture that's out of season and other crap that you currently have no use for? Nowadays I reckon it would probably contain old Atari computer, an exercise bike, some dumbbells, some VHS videos, one ping pong bat and a fold up bed.

Anyway I digress. I went to the house to have a look at the interiors so a few pics below to take inspiration from.

Oooh hello wallpaper.

The boudoir thank you very much.

 ...and more boudoir...

Not a bad ceiling eh?

..and the whole ceiling in the Great Hall

Luggage room. Dur.

Mega ceiling.

And finally, how awesome are these trees with their heads lopped off?

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