Rain and the National Trust

Clear day...nothing like today

The day dawned cold, windy and with occasional wet bits in the air. I decided to go for a stroll down to Hive Beach. Up and over the bronze age barrow and down to the beach where a fisherman sat facing the rough seas and spitting wind. The tide was up so I decided to head inland. Across a horse manured paddock, spying the gypsy caravans safe in their corner of a faraway field, and down into the town of Burton Bradstock.

I decided to visit the church. So it was up Donkey Lane and into St Mary the Virgin. I could rephrase that last sentence but I don’t think I will. A lovely squat little church, one small bit of which dates to the 12th century. In fact the bottom of the font. There was a church noted in Domesday in 1086 but there’s nothing of that left. It has been changed and renovated progressively through the ages. Sweet church.

It was then on to Burton Cliff and a stroll along the coastal footpath back to the lodge. I passed a woman on the way, the wind and rain lashing both of us. She was being led by a happy if somewhat saturated terrier and was wearing a bright yellow raincoat and one of those sailor type rain hats. As we passed each other, I said, “Lovely morning for it,” and she replied “Certainly is.” Aliens would so have no idea.

Barrington Court is an odd National Trust property. Firstly it’s in a difficult spot which means my navigation took us on a series of wrong turns and awkward trips down high hedged lanes, annoying Mirinda. Actually I can’t really blame Barrington Court. I just sent us down a wrong turning at a roundabout.

The other odd thing about Barrington Court is Barrington Court itself. It isn’t really a property that has a history inside. The guy who originally had it built was granted a baronetcy or earldom or whatever and immediately set about organising a big parade through London with banners saying “I AM the man!” and then had the house built. He soon went totally bankrupt and was flung in prison for living beyond his means.

Barrington Court, Somerset

A lot later the National Trust was given the house. At this time (1907) the house was inhabited by chickens and owls. The Trust set about repairing it. It cost a fortune. Lyle of Tate & Lyle Sugar took a lease on the property so he could store a lot of his collection of wooden walls in it. This eventually became too costly for him so he left his walls and opted out of the lease.

It is still a bit of a white elephant for the Trust and they still use it as an example of a bad acquisition – “Remember Barrington Court,” they still say when considering an expensive purchase. These days, along with Lyle’s extensive though unrecorded wooden walls, Barrington Court is used as a showcase for the work of Stuart Interiors. They make reproductions of Stuart furnishings. They also do a lot of work for the Trust in renovation and such. Their craftsmen are very good! Repro usually sounds pretty bad but this stuff is excellent. You can see it. At Barrington Court.

Fantastically, the newest staircase at Barrington Court won the Best Staircase Award in 2002. We walked up it. It’s all very pale oak with sweet lines and smooth treads. Truly deserving of the award. All that remains is to find out who was the compère for the awards ceremony and if it was televised. And, if it was, how I missed it!

Lunch was excellent. Though I think the trades description people could have a case against the toad in the hole which was more like snag in a bucket. It was delicious though. And the baked egg custard tart, which the waitress asked if we’d like custard on, which it certainly didn’t need. The beer was good too.

The weather was always a bit on edge today but since arriving back at the lodge, the windows have been lashed with wind and rain and the clouds have descended. I am listening to Mirinda’s guitar practice against a background hiss of gale force wind.

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