Tudor Chutes

Today we took mum to the Vyne, a National Trust property not far from us. It’s actually beyond Basingstoke which appears to be presently surrounded by witches’ hats. Unless it’s the natural breeding grounds for them. Could be either, really.

And the weather was kind, for a change. Though coats were still required.

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The first house on the site was built by the Sandys family but the family that made the biggest impression on the place, and was responsible for most of what we see now, were the Chutes.

One of my favourite bits has to be the summer (or banqueting) house. This was probably built sometime in the 17th century.

The banquet house

The banquet house

The reason it’s called a banqueting house is because dessert would be taken there after a meal served in the main house. It was rather fashionable to leave the house, traipse across the garden and take up temporary residence in this big brick building where servants would serve the syllabub and spotted dick.

While most of the house was open (one of the few National Trust properties open this time of year) we were witness to some of the cleaning work done by the Trust over the winter. Covers over furniture, a woman with a highly specialised hand vacuum cleaner and spray bottle, etc. It was all very interesting, especially since we don’t usually see that sort of thing.

Another interesting thing is the restoration work going on in the chapel. The stained glass is a miraculous survivor from the Tudor times but is, sadly, suffering from the weather and general external forces beyond the control of the owners. So very skillful tradespeople have been enlisted to repair and protect the glass in order for it to be preserved (hopefully) for another 500 years. Or at least until the next religious nutcase decides god isn’t keen on stained glass…again.

Anyway, the chapel is full of scaffolding with steps up to the higher windows not normally seen so close at hand. Very impressive when you see (and hear about) what they’re doing.

Also very impressive is the front entrance and staircase, as is normal in most stately homes.

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Though no handrail – there’s even a sign to that effect – which is odd really because old people in Tudor times were no less frail than nowadays and would have benefited from handrails. Weird. Still, worth the climb and mum managed. So that’s all that matters, really.

Having roamed the corridors we made our way to the tea shop for lunch. Unfortunately the shop was closed for redecorating though mum did manage to find things to buy in the ticket office.

We then headed back home in time to meet Claude to chat about the library.

Something that did amaze me was the early proliferation of snowdrops at The Vyne. Stupid global warming.

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