Saturday, October 6, 2007

Yarnton Manor Pictoral Tour

Several people seem to be confused about the manor estate; we do not actually live in the manor, but rather a cottage on the manor's grounds. Because of this, and because I can (hopefully at least; I've never done pictures before on the blog itself) I shall take my dear readers on a tour of Yarnton Manor's grounds.

Here we stand at the entrance to the Manor, just inside the gates, with Lydia on the side of the road. To the right, outside of the picture, is St. Bartholomew's church, although the only entrance to it is right outside the gates, so we'll quickly back up, and see it. The very small church grounds are filled with an ancient looking graveyard, although all of the decipherable stones are actually within the last century and a half. Today we at Yarnton Manor did a tour of the Cotswolds, which are a series of very picturesque and tourist over-run villages close by here, and at the St. John the Baptist church in Burford, the Verger told us how the graveyard outside his church, which was much more crowded than this one, if possible, was all full up (as this one was), and they had begun digging up bones whenever they would dig a hole for a grave, which they would just throw in the churche's crypt, but then the Town Council made them make a new graveyard, and that England actually has a law that when you start digging up bones, it's time for a new graveyard. Remind me to never be a gravedigger in England.

Our house is right behind the church tower, so the manor house is to the back and left of us (if you're facing the manor). Let us proceed up to the manor itself, built in the Jacobean period in the 1580s, then was expanded to lots o' wings, but then taken back to its original size. The original owner, Sir Thomas Spencer, was an ancestor of Princess Diana. In the English civil war it was used as a military hospital, and forty royalist soldiers are buried in the churchyard (they're definitely triple buried).

Now, there are all sorts of accompanying buildings; other cottages that the students live in, buildings (that are now houses for faculty, etc) with the delicious names of Appleloft and Orangery, and such functional (yet still made out of stone) other places, but I have to admit none of these shall be on the tour. Why not? Quite simply put, they didn't catch my fancy as much, and at the end of the day, all buildings began to look alike, even charming other century British ones. So instead, next up are the 'working' parts of the Manor, because for reasons I'm not entirely sure of, they have a complete set of gardens, fruit trees, and such, although they only serve food here rarely. Here's one of the two main garden parts. I'm sorry half the picture's in shadow, and half in sun. I know that you're not supposed to take pictures on bright, sunny days, and from the results of these pictures we can see why. Although I think it's quite a bit of effort to keep such large gardens, I'm glad they do, because it makes me feel even more like I just happen to be on a large Manor estate, perhaps in another century on rainy days, which I love. They also have several small greenhouses, with tomatoes, vines with very tempting grapes just hanging there waiting to be picked. Those who have lived near me recently will be very proud in my self control in not picking them, however. We are allowed to eat the windfall apples, from the several apple trees. And as Lydia and I walked by them, we took a couple to eat, as Lydia loves apples, and loves that to date we've had three apples (apiece) from random (public) trees on our walks. And unlike in America, these apples aren't the crab apples that are always available on public trees, but rather real, actual, good apples, tasting all somewhat like golden delicious, except for a certain tang only present in self picked (or picked up from the ground, in this case) apples. This garden and trees are parte of a large swath of tree dappled land to the right of the Manor. To the left of the manor is a barn-turned-library, where Avram will spend much of his time studying, seeing as he doesn't have to buy any books (a beautiful thing), but instead his books are kept on reserve, so he has to read them at the library.

Now, if your computer is even bothering to load the multitudinous photos any more, we will proceed directly behind the manor, where there is a beautiful green yard surrounded by a lovely flower bed. Wrapping the yard is a higher path of grass, over shadowed by trees, and reached by a series of stone stair-steps, this being the main one. Sadly, Lydia, like all under 16, are not allowed in this grassy area. A shame, really, but I think they like to keep it nice for events, as you can rent the Manor for weddings, etc.

From here the gate leads directly to this door, which although it's not hidden, looks like the entrance to the secret garden to me. I'd like a secret garden right now; for one thing, my main companion has a very limited vocabulary, although she is sweet. Behind this door (there are several of these along the back of the Manor) runs the back of the property, lined with trees and possessed with a certain air of possibility and unknown, perhaps because of the wildness of it. This narrow corridor leads out into the wilds beyond with this majestic gate, lying directly behind the secret garden door. The gate doesn't open now, although yesterday Avram, Lydia and I did take another route into the wilds beyond, and had a lovely walk through nature (note, don't bring a stroller on country walking in England). I wonder what this gate used to lead to, in the centuries past. Now there isn't even a specific path leading from it.

Thus we conclude our tour of the manor and grounds. Some memorable parts I didn't post pictures for are number one, a large pile of leaves, branches, weeds, and other such refuse, which was burning. And no one was even attending it! I've never been somewhere that burns its leaves in the fall, although it's mentioned in books, etc as one of the definitive smells of Autumn, so I was glad to finally experience it, and it did add a certain fall-ness to the air. Number two are lots of pictures of the side field/orchard. A lovely place, but fields look like fields, although this one has nice, comfortable grass. American grass always seems to be prickly, but the grass in England must be what grass is meant to be, because even in public non-mowed areas it appears, short and springy and ever-so-green. Number three are my pictures of walls with ferns growing out of it. It's very common here, but to me it's quite odd the amount and places that green growing plants appear; like at the top of a stone wall. Or the how the roofs, especially the older ones, are covered, or at least sprinkled with moss and lichen. Our roof is made out of slate, or at least a flat stone. All the old houses are here, and they must last a long time as roofs, because they each stone tile looks like it was hand carved, and didn't come from a machine.


  1. Thanks for bring us into your world through pictures and words. since we can't be there, we love to see it through your eyes.

  2. Wow. That whole place looks really pretty. You guys should take some pictures of the inside of your cottage.

  3. i must tell you that i looked at all the pictures first and then went back to read through the post. When I was looking at the pictures I was thinking in my head hey that looks like the secret garden door, and even told cory to look at it. Then I read that you thought the same thing!! hehe.. its like we are related or something... lol. anyways it looks so beautiful and I am glad becuase you were worried that you wouldnt like the english countryside but it looks like it has lived up to your expectations of what an english countryside should be. I wonder too where that lovely gate lead to orriginally. I wish I lived there and I could spend the days wandering with you on long walks while the kids ran in front of us. Ahhh I can almost picture us in anne of green gable type dressed with bonets and everything. sigh....

    Anyways I love the pics. i would love to see some more.. all you have. I promise I really want to see everything! oh and please go take some of wordsworths home one day. He is my favorite poet and i would love to see where he lived while he was writing. :)

    well i am too tired to go back and reread and spell check. its one am and I am up with a fussy Theo.. I think he is teething ( he still has none and is 9 1/2 months!)

    I miss you Thora!