MAY 12th 2014
The B&B we stayed at last night, in Hedge End, was not one of my better choices. What is strange is that on Trip Advisor it gets glowing reports. I'll just say one thing and that is that the photos on their website are not representative of what was there. When I asked about this the owner just said they were old, at which point I told him he needed to update his website. After breakfast we packed up and moved on. Today, on our way to Corfe Castle we would pay a return visit to Mottisfont and visit Kingston Lacey. But first we had to find our way there!
Generally we don't have much of a problem finding our way around England. Our trusty AA map book and road signage usually works well. However, the road we found ourselves on left us less than confident that we were on the right road. When I spotted a garden center I told David to pull in. What better place to ask for directions. "I'll just take a look around as you go ask" I told him.
It was a water garden with all things for the the pond garden. No need to build your own waterfall. Here is a row of ready made features for your instant waterfall.
I have this love of ammonites. Look at this paving. If only!
And here is a suggestion of how to incorporate in your own garden paving. For myself I think I would have to partially bury the stone in gravel and in between the ammonites for a less formal effect.
Plants for the rock garden.
This was one of the areas that had been the subject of that terrible flooding they had earlier on this year. Two of their prized fish had just floated away on the flood. Chadwick and Chagoi are now home. Chadwick was found 6 weeks later and 7 miles away in the River Test. Four weeks later Chagoi was found behind the car wash at a local gas station. They are now back home and reunited.
Mention of the River Test reminded us that our first stop, Mottisfont, is on the River Test. How David would love to fish that river but at ₤500 a rod day it is never going to happen. We visited Mottisfont towards the end of June in 2011. It turns out that May was a little too early in the season to see their magnificent displays of roses. They had also suffered from the floods and were busy building a new entrance way across the creek.
When the rain began we did a quick scoot around the walled garden decided to move on walking back to the car through the parkland with its magnificent trees.
It wasn't long before we were in open countryside. It became obvious we were now in the New Forest by the numbers of wild ponies grazing along the roadside and on the heath. You can read all about the ponies. New Forest Ponies.
Driving on the unfenced roads made for some careful and sometimes rather slow driving.
We arrived at Kingston Lacy knowing that the house was closed on Mondays. Imagine our surprise when we were told that a tour of the house was scheduled to start in 10 minutes. They kindly let us in the house ahead of time to shelter from the rain.
Until the National Trust were given the house in 1981, at which time they had to make major repairs, the estate had belong to the Bankes family since Sir John Bankes bought the estate and that of Corfe Castle in 1632. Bankes remained loyal to the crown during the English Civil war and until his death in 1644. After his death, his wife, Dame Mary, fought off two attempts to take over their home at Corfe Castle until it finally fell and was destroyed by Cromwell's army. When the monarchy was restored in 1660 the lands were given back to his son Ralph who built Kingston Hall on the estate grounds. Since then changes and restorations have led to the Kingston Lacey we see today.
The house holds a magnificent collection of art work including the works of Rubens, Van Dyke, Titian and Breughel as well as one of the finest collections of Egyptian treasures. Following our tour of the house we walked around the grounds including the vegetable garden with its impressive rows of strawberries.
We then headed towards the coast of Dorset and to the village of Corfe Castle where I had booked two nights at a bed and breakfast named Ammonite. A natural choice for me and within walking distance of the village and the castle. We would visit there tomorrow.
We walked into the village for dinner and a better nights sleep in this peaceful village.