I thought I’d share with you three of my favourite subjects today, being food, holidays and architecture, specifically medieval architecture for this post. We’ve just returned from a holiday in Shropshire and Norfolk – miles apart but both very lovely to see and lovely to drive round and through. Yes, our holiday encompassed all three of my favourite subjects. I’m really a very lucky girl 🙂
The visit to Ludlow was, specifically, for the yearly Food Fayre that the town hosts in September. We last went two years ago and were so impressed that we decided to book a room and stay over before setting off on our ‘proper’ holiday to Norfolk. There are a few hundred stalls spread around the town but mainly located in Ludlow’s castle grounds.
The first image shows the massive food marquee in the grounds of the castle – actually in the bailey area where there is more space for this particular one. There are many, many others dotted throughout the castle grounds and it takes an age to walk around all the stalls, sampling as you go – the way you do. One of the products I was especially hoping to find, is cinnamon honey. I purchased two pots of this heavenly nectar two years ago and really wanted to find it again. Indeed, there it was – so, two more pots purchased (and one pot already depleted somewhat).
The atmosphere at the event so friendly with like-minded people there to do exactly what we were doing, sampling excellent produce and purchasing our favourites. The second image shows the main entrance to the castle, opposite the giant marquee. Once through into the interior (open to the skies), we found yet more lovely morsels to purchase and put away for Christmas. Twelve year old Balsamic Vinegar, two stalls selling very up-market sauces (we knew them from last time, but they’ve split up and are going their own ways. Luckily they weren’t placed next to each other and they are presenting their sauces in different ways). We bought from both of them. We also purchased some truffle Salamis – they’re incredibly good and we can’t wait till the festive season to eat them.
The third image is that of Ludlow Church. It’s sort of hidden behind public houses, shops and eateries, but you can see the tower from anywhere so you always know where you are. There’s a fantastic Inn which overlooks the church and is famous for its pies. Naturally it’s called ‘Church Inn’.
After Ludlow we moved on towards Norfolk and our final holiday destination at Dersingham just on the edge of the Sandringham estate. On the way we stopped at Ely just to have a little look around. The fourth image is of a row of late medieval buildings which we happened to walk past. Behind these is Ely Cathedral which I’ve visited before. Hubbie didn’t want to see for himself so we didn’t bother going round it this time.
We were very lucky on our travels this time, we weren’t caught up in any traffic and so we entered Norfolk well within our estimated travelling time. We met our holiday cottage’s owners who handed us the keys and showed us round. It’s not that often you find yourself presented with the most perfect little cottage for a week’s holiday. We’ve stayed in a few holiday cottages over the years and have always found something missing. Wine bottle opener, washing machine, wardrobe space, etc. Here everything was provided that anyone could wish for. It even had the perfect reading nook just for little old me.
After unpacking and settling in we took ourselves off to the nearest pub to meet the locals – just to orientate ourselves as I’m sure you understand 🙂 I slept like a log that night, a first for me in a strange bed. Next morning (Sunday), we decided to take a drive along the coast road and then inland a little to get an idea of what we wanted to see and do for the following week.
The first image. above, is of Castle Acre, a lovely place where children can climb the grassed over curtain wall, in some places, having fun rolling or running back down it. The view is from the rear of the castle looking down over the bailey towards the gate which led to a bridge over the river and the road. The second image is of the Priory Gatehouse, not far from Castle Acre, written about below. We only got to see the gatehouse because of the weather unfortunately. The third image is of a row of houses opposite Kings Lynn Minster. The Town Hall and Town goal sat across the road and to one side. This was the heart of old Kings Lynn (once just called Lynn), and the old quay is behind these buildings.
One of the most fascinating places we visited was Castle Rising, home to Queen Isabella, widow of Edward II and lover of Roger Mortimer.
The castle is well preserved and looks as though it’s still entire from the outside. It isn’t as most of the floors have long since gone, but there is still enough of it left to show how magnificent it must have been originally. Some parts have been added on after Queen Isabella’s tenure, and other parts have been changed, which is only to be expected in a castle which is around 700 years old.
We noticed a large group of schoolchildren pouring off a couple of coaches as we parked up, so hurried along to purchase our tickets and get ahead of them all. I love children’s faces when they’re looking at anything which engages their interest. Castles certainly do that. I just don’t love the noise they make, you know the one, the screech of joy as they discover something else around the corner, It sets my poor ears on edge. Anyway, we were glad we chose to hurry a little at first as we managed to enter the castle without anyone impeding our view – see below:
Yes, this was the entrance. Can you imagine entering here and walking up these steps dressed in all your finery having given your horse to a stable boy to take care of? It really is one way to make a statement – having an entrance like this. I can’t imagine it was very warm though. There would have been torches all the way up the wall in the winter to light the way, but the steps were really steep, and I could just imagine tripping over the hem of a dress and falling all the way to the bottom – oh I think I’ve just found another story there!
I loved this castle, and one of the best bits is to be found at the top of these stairs, an area which did not exist in the form in which it is now, but which led, originally straight into the great hall on the left as you entered. Now it is a separate space with access to a small staircase to allow access to the different floors and to an arched passageway which allowed access to the hall.
And this is the staircase. So cute and so inviting. You can see the stairs spiralling up, they also spiral down – heaven. I love staircases, especially when I can’t see where they lead to. I think it’s the child in me. Not knowing means anything could be there. I also love passages and drains, for the same reason I have to admit. This castle also contains passages to I knew not where|! So I followed them and found some simply stunning little areas which were, originally, the private rooms of the owner (presumably Queen Isabella would have known these rooms). One was the chapel – so small and with a passageway around the back of it. I wondered what it was for and hubbie said probably so that armed men could leave their swords there before entering the chapel. It made sense. Not being a male I hadn’t thought of this – there’s a big hole in my very long education I think.
This image is of part of the private chapel. I love this image as it evokes so much in the imagination. You can see how carefully the stonework is carved and how well the arches are made. You can also see the decay that time has brought to the building as the elements have full access to this part of it.
You can imagine the people who lived and worked here using this chapel. Taking the time to meditate here before going to close a deal with a neighbour perhaps, or trying to set their worries aside within the peace of their surroundings. You can imagine the priest, master of his little kingdom within the greater space of the castle, his air of importance and, hopefully, wisdom and sanctity as he performed his daily offices.
I am always amazed at just how much of the UK’s ancient buildings are left. From roman walls to medieval monastery chapter houses, from castles to 16th century inns, from great tudor palaces to saxon crosses, from roman mosaics to Stonehenge and so much more.
I missed visiting one place on my list, that of the Priory ruins just down the road from Castle Acre. I managed to take some pictures of the gatehouse on our first day when we promised ourselves we would return during the week, the time being very close to the site being closed for the day. I hate having to rush around something, much preferring to take my time to absorb the feeling of the place, especially when we’re looking at ruins. Unfortunately, the day we had planned to return was the wettest day of our holiday, and the last day of the holiday, so we were unable to return. We’ll just have to go back in a year or two’s time and make it No.1 on our site seeing list.
These are just a few of the images I took while discovering Norfolk. There are many more and so much more to talk about, but I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the few I’ve selected for this post.