Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Along the Avon - Sunday 6 May 2012

Driving across the countryside today, was like passing through rays of sunshine. The rape fields were in full bloom, and the effect is quite stunning.

 We were off to Stratford-on-Avon via a circuitous route, starting at Charlcotte Park. This impressive Elizabethan house was a great start to our day. The house has been well looked after, and oozes history including a visit by Queen Elizabeth for which a new entrance was added.

 Not far from here is Coughton Court. It is unlikely Queen Elizabeth would have visited here, as this was owned by a Catholic family, who in later years, were very involved in the gunpowder plot.

 A short distance away was Ragley Hall. This house had a very different feel to the two houses. Built in a later era in the Palladian style, the beautiful interior, with exquisite ceilings lead room by room to a total surprise. The foyer and staircase opposite the grand hall type entrance had had a modern makeover, finished in 1983. Graham Rust took 14 years to paint a three story mural called the Temptation – the largest mural in the country. On the ceiling is Jesus on the Mount of Temptation, but all around him on the high walls is a giant mural of the family standing on balconies, surrounded by exotic animals and plants. The whole thing blows a breath of fresh air into an old period home. Quite a feeling of stepping into another world through the doorway!

 We had already passed trough some lovely towns on our tour so far, including Alcester. We continued on to Stratford-on-Avon through other nice towns including Bidford-on-Avon. This is a town well known to Shakespeare. He was also very familiar with Charlecote Park, as he was caught poaching in the park, and brought before the judge (who also was Lord of the manor).

 Straford-on-Avon was our last stop, and a wonderful town to spend time wandering around again. So full of history and rich in historic houses associated with Shakespeare. Many buildings were covered in wisteria, looking pretty much at it's best.

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