Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Off to Sussex once again and the drive down was very quick, I couldn't believe how quiet the motorway was. By 1.30pm I was within 7 miles of Midhurst where I was staying and, as I'd planned, I followed the sign to the National Trust property of Uppark. My first stop was the tea room as I was pretty hungry by this time,they were at the point of stopping serving lunch and there wasn't much on offer so I had a very ordinary toasted cheese sandwich and a sparkling elderflower drink. The ordinariness of the food was surprising as the National Trust usually have really good food. This is the view from the cafe.
I have very few photos of Uppark
as the National Trust doesn't allow any photography inside their properties. I spent £5 on a guide book and then wished I hadn't bothered wasting my money. Including the index it is 96 pages long - Uppark has two floors open to the public, the ground floor which is the 'upstairs' part of the house and the basement which is the 'downstairs' or servants quarters. In 1989 Uppark was severely damaged by a dreadful fire which destroyed large portions of the house, particularly the upper floors where the family who owned it still had/have apartments. Since then it has been restored and a wonderful job has been made of it. The only problem is that, as in most National Trust properties, it is like walking round a museum rather than a place where people lived. The NT have the almost unfailing ability to take the soul out of a place - this isn't an inevitable result of the house no longer being lived in, I've visited places where you feel that people have just gone out of the room and could be back any minute. The rooms on view included the Servery and the usual array of Dining Room,Little Parlour,Red Drawing Room etc etc. In the guide book I've written by the entry for the Servery "Stained glass window is rather lovely,best thing here. Otherwise fairly uninspiring" I think the phrase is 'damned by faint praise! Anyway, I was round the ground floor pretty quickly and then went down into the servants quarters - this is absolutely marvellous and I spent ages looking round, it's very complete - there's the Still Room/Kitchen, Butler's Pantry, Housekeepers Room etc all crammed with interesting things to see. Unfortunately you'll have to use your imagination as not only is there the'no photographs etc etc' bit, but also no postcards in the shop and of the 96 pages in the guide book exactly seven are allotted to this part of the house, eight if you count the page describing the Doll's House which is eighteenth century and rather splendid. This was the part that everyone enjoyed most though, I overheard lots of remarks saying exactly what I was thinking. The only photos I have are of the dairy, (which was a separate building and I therefore figured didn't count in the no interior photos bit!).Inside it was rather beautiful, very clean and cool and tranquil, I liked it best of all that I saw,
This one is the Game Larder which was used to 'hang'the results of the regular shooting parties that would have taken place,game birds in one room and venison etc in the other. It's actually a very pretty building but is sited some way from the house because of the less than wonderful aromas that would be emanating fom it!
Incidentally an interesting thing about Uppark is that the mother of H.G.Wells (of War of the Worlds fame)was housekeeper there between 1880 and 1892 and he spent quite a bit of his youth there.
After I turned off to follow the sign to Uppark I drove along ever more winding and remote country lanes and eventually went through a place called South Harting which is the nearest village to the house. As I passed through I passed this cottage
I immediately decided on a stop in the village on my way back and there were some interesting buildings:
the village pub,it's 17th century and called The Ship Inn because it was built from ship's timbers
the church, St Mary and St Gabriel, is mainly 14th century and stands on the site of an even earlier church.
I thought this house was interesting because you can see that the original cottage, which must be medieval, was built without a chimney and it was added on to the outer wall at a later date.
When I saw the row of cottages below they looked quite modern at first glance, all uniform and painted in a rather pretty colourwash. Then I looked again and realised that they are jettied, the photo is at an odd angle to show this.
I took a closer look and realised that what I thought was a house name or number actually said this:
I've saved the best until last, this is my dream house
It was next door but one to the rather more fancy version that I first noticed but I actually liked this one better, it looked half asleep and as though it was dreaming - rather magical in fact. All these buildings were literally within a stones throw of each other apart fom the pub, which was a little way down the road towards the more modern end of the village. This is unusual as in English villages the pub and the church are invariably bang next door to each other - and of course that would have been the case here in 1450 when the present day cottage was the Bucke Inn.
So then it was on to Midhurst and the Spread Eagle ready for the next day and the course in preserving in Tudor times - look out for the next exciting instalment!
By the way the photo at the top is part of the garden of Uppark which I didn't really have time to see - pity as it looked rather nice.