August 16 – 18
What’s this – a school?
The trip home through Reading was an experience – Reading Station has 15 platforms – so much for a country stop.
Check out Monday August 18 and we leave the unfriendly people of Travelodge Slough to travel to Buckingham (Kerry does not want to sit on the M25 going home but wants to see pretty villages). So I set the GPS (“Tommy”) for Buckingham formerly the centre for Buckinghamshire (some centuries earlier but now a village of some 12,000 people). Well we found a way around the M25 and its called the M40 but we made the mistake of having breakfast at one of the “Services” along the way. Service are usually a small shopping centre with bathroom facilities and take away food outlets a petrol station truck stop and often a motel. We had spent under 10 pound for a full English breakfast at Windsor the day before and here we are today 17 pounds for some burcher muesli and a ham and cheese toastie.
After about 1 hour we arrived at Buckingham but its not a pretty village (interesting old goal in the middle of town though – Kerry is not amused so I will have to see the goal next time). So we plot our return to Long Eaton and before long we see in the distance a large gate (no fence) looking like the Arch de Triumph and a sign saying “Stowe House”. Kerry is interested so after a near collision at a blind corner (my fault not looking at the road but where we are going) we turn towards the entrance which has some amazing similarities to the Long Walk (this observation would be proven correct later). We were met at the car park and asked for our National Trust card which of course we did not have. No worries so in we went and parked near the “New Inn”. On entering the New Inn I found that it was set up just as it would have appeared in the 18th century but Kerry went straight to the information centre. By the time I got there she was signing us up as Trust members and had found a chap from Toton (next village over from Long Eaton). He explained that there were extensive gardens and a large house which we could visit free as members of the Trust. Also the house was open to be viewed because of the school holidays (6 weeks in summer). So off we set. (Just before we go any further I will mention the great invention I saw at the centre – a set of stairs that retract into the floor to expose an elevator for disabled people – photo follows)
Any way we walked and walked and walked to finally arrive at the bell house (visitor would ring the bell to be let into the estate). On entering the estate and gardens you are hit by the enormity of the estate and the home at the centre of it. Looking across two adjoining lakes and past the golf course sits Stowe House. We were to learn that the Temple family were sheep farmers up till 1546 and in 1589 they bought the estate and constructed the original Stowe house which was completed in the early 17th century by Sir Richard Temple 3rd Baronet. There is a lengthy history of how this family climbed the political ladder and the royal ladder from Baronet to Earl to Viscount to Marquess to Duke. During this climb the house was extended enormously until it became the longest house in the UK. The house remained in the family but the family name changed through marriage to Grenville. One of the daughters was wife of William Pitt and therefore mother to William Pitt the Younger (two Prime Ministers of the UK) and the family became Grenvilles who were also Prime Ministers therefore the family was richly endowed with good political fortune. The sons also married well to add to the fortune which they spent just as quickly developing Stowe. At one time the Baron moved 600 people out of the village of Stowe keeping their church and resuming their land. It all came to a sad end when after entertaining Queen Victoria and the Prince consort the bailiffs moved in and sold up everything. The house of course was to emulate grand homes and impress political and royal dignitaries hence the look alike Long Walk (my idea – not based on anything else)
There is much more to the story and I suggest you look at Wikipedia if interested in the full family history. Other sites are http://www.stowe.co.uk.
In 1922 the house and estate were sold to the governors of the Stowe School and the property put into the Stowe House Preservation Trust and rented to the school for boarding and schooling accommodation. A great use preserving the best and continuing to use the building and the grounds. And the curry for lunch for the staff smelt pretty good also but no invitation was forth coming to us.
Oh I forgot to add that New Inn was built by the family for visitors to stay (obviously not important visitors) and visit the estate.
A picture tells a thousand words or so they say. See what you think:
• New Inn and the restored rooms
• Stowe House
• The Gothic building
• Garden scenes
• The front door and the back door and steps
• The main entertaining room and it statutes
• The Egyptian Room (one of them went all over the middle east and Greece to collect for the house)
• The Library the deputy Heads office and other rooms
• The Church
• The footy shed and field
• An aerial view and
• Those amazing stairs at the information centre.