Thursday, 24 September 2009

Oxburgh Hall

Before leaving for any foreign country I warn everyone that I would like to visit at least a few interesting places – it can be just a walk by a picturesque river, a little village and their local church, Sunday’s market or a museum of some sort… So I spend hours on my computer searching for anything that seems suitable.

This time I was prompted to have a look at a place called Oxburgh Hall. I had a look, liked it and said that we need to see it!

Oxburgh Hall is a moated country house in Oxborough, Norfolk, today in the hands of the National Trust. When you arrive to its car park (a green lawn in front of the brick fence) you can’t actually see it, so you are left to keep guessing how big it’s going to be… Before you enter you are asked to part with some money – I can’t remember how much we paid, but I think that the price wasn’t too steep. So they don’t actually ruin your mood on entering the premises – or maybe I remember things so just because the sun was shining and everything around looked really nice?

I fell in love with the view immediately after the first glance! - the house itself, the pretty lawns, the knot garden and the so unusual square moat.

Here’s some historical information that I found about Oxburgh Hall on the internet:

"Built around 1482 by Sir Edmund Bedingfeld, Oxburgh has always been a family home, not a fortress. The manor of Oxburgh came to the Bedingfeld family by marriage before 1446, and the house has been continuously inhabited by them since their construction of it in 1482, the date of Edward Bedingfeld's licence to crenellate.

A fine example of a late medieval, inward-facing great house, Oxburgh stands within a square moat about 75 metres on each side, and was originally enclosed; the hall range facing the gatehouse was pulled down in 1772 for Sir Richard Bedingfeld, providing a more open U-shaped house, with the open end of the U facing south.

The hall is well known for its priest hole. Due to the Catholic faith of the Bedingfeld family, a Catholic priest may have had to hide within the small disguised room in the event of a raid. The room is reached via a trapdoor, which when closed blends in with the tiled floor. Unlike many similar priest holes, the one at Oxburgh is open to visitors."

I must admit the priest hole was an interesting room, but I really wouldn’t recommend it for someone who suffers from claustrophobia. (And NO, I didn’t go there – it seemed to me that I would get stuck!) But as I wasn’t allowed to take photos inside the house, sadly I can’t really show you what it looks like… Instead here are some more photos of the façade.

That's the "...grand fortified gatehouse, evoking the owner's power and prestige, though as fortification its value is largely symbolic...". This is what it looks like from the inner yard. By the way, I really liked the square sun dial at the top. Well, as you can see while it was sunny, you could actually tell the time!

The whole house is very ornate – there are lots of sculptures, interesting shapes and even the chimneys are like little pieces of art! I guess these must be the Victorian additions that are mentioned on the internet “…Victorian additions include the Flemish-style stepped gables, the massive southeast tower, the oriel windows overhanging the moat and terracotta chimneys”.

And once we climbed one of the towers, looking around the estate I remembered a song sung by a Lithuanian singer called Jurga. The song is named “Nebijok” (“Don’t be afraid”) and the refrain goes like this: Mes su Tavim turim naktį drąsos/ Įsiklausyt į kalbą tamsos/ Lipt stogais ir žiūrėt žemyn/ Kas brangu – nebijok apkabint.
It could be translated to something like that: „at night we have enough courage to climb the roofs, listen to the language of the darkness, to climb the roofs and look down, don‘t be afraid to hug the things that are precious to you“.

Anyway, to me these roofs looked like the one‘s that would be perfect for a romantic date while watching a sunset! And here's a link for the song, if you're curious:

Pretty gravel walkways that take you round the country house and down to the small Catholic church... Which I think it isn‘t that common in England?

The church itself is rather small, yet quite cosy and not as ornate as it usually is popular in the Catholic tradition. But the thing that stuck in my memory the most was in the church yard - a little grave of a stillborn girl, who was born in 2003 and a very meaningful sentence on the grave stone – „home without a journey”. I found it very comforting – we keep saying “life’s journey”, but to my mind we never see the end of this journey as a return home…

Have I mentioned the gardens? They are really nice – you could find there lots of vegetables and flowers. And if you haven’t got a garden and would like to show your children how tomatoes, cucumbers or pumpkins grow, come to Oxburgh Hall in Autumn!

And if you are looking for a special treat – come to Oxburgh Hall before Christmas. We were told that then the staff dresses up in old medieval clothes and you can see what this country house looked like several ages ago.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Catching up... What's happened in September

It's been almost a month since I last posted anything on my blog - and I must admit I really missed searching for the best photos and writing about things that I like...

Well, there's been a good reason for my silence - September has been FULL of nice events, but in order to take part in them I had to get on a plane, which is a real torture for me! Don’t get me wrong - I like travelling, I love seeing new and interesting places, but I can only calm down once I've landed safely or maybe even only once I’ve left the airport…

One of those scary flying things... Stanstead Aiport, the 9th of September, 2009

Whenever we get plane tickets I get anxious and I'm sure I annoy everyone else by not being able to get excited! About a week before my journey at nights I have problems sleeping and during the days I quite often lift my eyes into the sky in order to judge the flying conditions... I know it’s not very normal, but I think that I can still cope with my fear. When would I say that I can’t? Probably the time when I would kiss the ground after getting out of a plane (a bit of turbulence, a few bumps and one day that might happen – no, no, it won’t… everything will always be fine – positive thinking!).

Good flying conditions a few days before leaving for England

Well, this time I just couldn’t stay at home – my boyfriend’s granddad was celebrating his 100th Birthday! (What’s the secret of longevity? In his case we think it is cod liver oil – so from now on boys and girls, please don’t forget to swallow a spoon or two a day!) It was really exciting as I don’t think that many people reach this age, oh, and if they live in the UK they even get a Birthday card from the Queen!

How old would you say is this guy? 100! (the one who's acctually blowing the candles)

I like England – it’s so different to any other country, but somehow it’s very appealing. I’m glad that people there stick to their ways of doing things and maintain their heritage. Lots of stuff in England is very ‘country livingish’ – it’s fun to go hiking on a Saturday or Sunday, there are so many Manor Houses and Castles that are packed with goods from middle ages, it’s not surprising if someone owns a horse, gardens are kept well and cooking can be turned into a ritual that unites the whole family…

Anyway… this time in England I got lots of lovely magazines, for eg. ‘Country Living’, ‘Homes & Antiques’, '25 Beautiful Homes' etc. (10 out of 10 in the scale of pleasure!) and went to see a country house in Oxborough, Norfolk (9 out of 10 in the scale of pleasure – as the only things that are left are my memories and a few photos…) –I’ll tell you some more about the house later on this week!

Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk - worth a visit!