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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Visit to Ickworth

 Sculpted frieze at Ickworth. Coincidentally, it 
features the Olympic games from classical times

Well, it's being a sunny and warm day, so, as Carol is on holiday from the Academy, we set out for a visit to a National Trust property on Saturday morning, and decided on Ickworth, which is near Bury St Edmunds. We set off really early, as we wanted to make the most of our day. As it turned out it was a really glorious sunny day. We left around 8 o'clock and got to Ickworth a little after 10. We stopped at a Little Chef on the A14 near Newmarket to have coffee as we needed a break (Carol was driving.) I was under the impression that Little Chef had closed down (another casualty of the recession.) but apparently not. I think they did get into financial difficulties (no doubt the darstardly banks are involved. Aren't they involved in most of the woes of industry and business?) but they have presumably been thrown a life-line by some private investor or other, such as one of The Dragons from "Dragon's Den." 

Having got to the turn-off near Bury St Edmonds it wasn't  exactly clear where we had to go for Ickworth, as there was a signpost which was pointing in what we assumed was the wrong way, but did end up at the entrance into Ickworth. This is a magnificent place, Italianate in style, with a central rotunda. As we are National Trust members we got in free. This is the f third time we've been out to a National Trust Property, we'd have made more visits if the weather hadn't been so awful during the earlier part of the summer. We've been to Stowe, where they'd recently opened a new visitor centre and restaurant (I think I've mentioned this in an earlier post.) and to Waddesdon with the two girls Carol tutors (we didn't go inside the manor on this occasion.)

This house was fascinating. As you can see from this photograph, it has a rotunda, a round central section, quite unlike any other National Trust property we've been to. Like a lot of these properties, they were built at a time when labour was cheap, and those that built them had the money to lavish on extravagant buildings. Here they built parts that were never lived in, and today part of this house has been converted for use as a hotel. We had an interesting guided tour of the servant's quarters, which made the visit more than usually interesting.
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