Sunday, August 14, 2016

Boughton House Outing

We've intended visiting Boughton House for around the past 10 years. We've driven past on several occasions when we've been visiting somewhere else nearby, such as Rockingham Castle, which we visited around 6-7 years ago. You can see the house clearly from the road and it has a sort of inviting  appeal. We planned a day out yesterday, but then it clouded over and began to rain early, and Carol complained of an eye infection so we went to get some drops from Boots which, in the end, meant we stayed at home, but this morning it began sunny and pleasant so we set the SatNav and made up a picnic and drove off early. The house wasn't open before Midday so there was no point getting there too soon. According to the SatNav, it was going to take around an hour to get there. We drove away from Milton Keynes towards Olney and then towards Wellingborough and eventually Kettering. When we got nearer Boughton the SatNav wanted us to enter the estate through an entrance which was closed off with a gate which had a notice on it which said 'private' so it's not always a good idea to follow exactly the route given by this technology. I had programmed the thing with the postcode given on Boughton's website. It just goes to show you can't always trust modern technology. We continued on and took the signs which took us through a couple of attractive villages. Whenever we drive towards any of the historic houses we visit (and we've visited quite a few this summer, as you will know, if you've been following my blog posts on here.) you soon know when you're almost there because all, or virtually all, of the estates they're in have long walls running around them, which is generally a huge give-away. Soon we were at the gates of the Boughton estate, but it was around 11.50 so we drew up on the grass verge along with several other cars. Soon the gates were open and we drove in. The first thing we couldn't help noticing was the huge plume of water shooting in the air. Known as the 'jet del' Eau (Jet of Water. Simple, I suppose.)  This 70 foot plus fountain rises from a lake, called the Grand Etang (which translates as 'Great Pond.') You can't escape this magnificent feature of the landscape of Boughton because it seems to follow you around and can be seen from almost all of the grounds. Well, I suppose it would do, it's a major feature. We were certainly impressed by it.

Jet de l'eau at Boughton House

I'm afraid my photograph, which I've included above, really doesn't do justice to the actual feature. It's difficult to portray the scale of it in a photograph, and certainly not on here. This really doesn't give you any sort of idea of the size of the jet, because it's very impressive.

Having parked the car we decided to eat the picnic we'd bought with us so we sat on a rather convenient grassy bank near the car and once this was finished we walked to the stable block nearby to purchase our entry tickets. As we're H.H.A. members (Historic Houses Association) we didn't have to actually pay. We are certainly getting our money's worth with our joint membership of this organisation this year. We did, though, have to pay to gain admittance to the house itself in order to join a guided tour which was due to start at 1.15. So we had some considerable time before this guided tour so we spent it wandering around the grounds. The landscape comprises a series of walks with avenues of trees, embanked areas as well as canals and lakes, which have, apparently, been inspired by similar features at French 17th and 18th-century houses and palaces, such as Versailles

Really pleasant avenue of trees at Boughton

At around 1.00 we went to find the house entrance in order to get on the guided tour. When we got there we found people waiting and signed in. We left some of our belongings at the entrance with the staff and then the tour began. A truly amazing collection of artworks as well as furniture in each room and the lady who was the guide made it all very worthwhile and interesting.  This tour took around an hour, but it was actually only half of the house. A second guided tour would begin at around 3.15 and take you around the upstairs apartments. We had booked for this also, but as it was so warm and we'd been standing for so long we decided to abandon the idea. You aren't supposed to sit down as you go around, although some seating is provided, but it was, as I said, far too long to spend in the heat although we would have liked to have seen the rest of the house. Maybe we'll return at a later date and see the rest of the house then.

We went to buy icecream in the shop, as it was a particularly warm afternoon. We sat in the courtyard at the stables and began to chat with a couple who came to sit on the chairs at our table. It turned out that they lived in Leicestershire, by sheer coincidence, very near where Carol lived as a child, in the vicinity of Thornton, which is near Coalville. It seems amazing that you can travel miles and when you eventually bump into someone or other, begin a conversation, they tell you that they lived 'up the road' from where you live or know someone you know. Only the other week, when we went to Cambridge and were in the Fitzwilliam Museum, we began to talk to a lady who was standing and looking at a particular picture and it turned out she was also a teacher, like Carol, and she worked at a school nearby to the Milton Keynes Academy where Carol works.

We then wandered around the grounds and gardens at Boughton, admiring the gardens and then made our way back to the car and left for home.

Having followed the instructions of the SatNav, it was strange that it did not take us back the same way as we had come. At one point we were directed to drive through a ford in one of the villages, but Carol decided not to take that route. We were supposed to drive back on the M1, which wasn't the way we'd gone when we were on our way to Boughton. On arriving back in Milton Keynes we went to the K.F.C. at the stadium to buy take-away chicken and chips for our evening meal. 
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