Sunday, 24 April 2016

Reverting to the "Alternative Subjects" Agenda - Rufford Abbey, Part One

Hello once again.  Isobel in charge of this week's post, with pictures and description of another family sortie to another nearby Place of Interest - also with a link to the Earl and Countess of Shrewsbury of yesteryear (the latter being as well known by the title "Bess of Hardwick").   
Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury, looking not unlike her Queen!
Rufford Abbey is now owned and preserved by Nottinghamshire County Council but in its heyday was the property of the same Earl of Shrewsbury, husband of Bess, whose family name was George Talbot. 
The first view a visitor gets as one drives into the park setting
 A fact I didn't include in my two posts about Hardwick Hall (published on 28/03/2016 and 04.04.2016 respectively) is that George Talbot was responsible for the care and custody of  Mary Queen of Scots on behalf of Queen Elizabeth 1 until she was beheaded at the Queen's command. 
A portrait of George Talbot, Earl of Shrrewsbury himself!  There are similar portraits at Hardwick Hall of  the Earl and his wife, but they would not have reproduced half as well as these do.
 (The grand daughter of  Bess was Mary's niece by marriage by virtue of being the wife of Mary's nephew Charles Stuart and therefore a strong contender to be a successor to Queen Elizabeth I - but lost out, as well as her head, when Charles died before the Queen!)  Such was the incestuous relationship of the wealthy in Elizabethan times - really not that much different to that carried on in modern times really!
Daughter Clare and Grandson E walking from the Car Park
Anyway back to Rufford Abbey - which is situated in 150 acres of lovely parkland (Rufford Abbey Country Park), just a few miles north of  Nottingham itself.  The site is among the top 10 Country Parks in England and is open to the public all year round.  One just has to pay for parking and one can walk around at one's own pace.
Approaching Rufford Abbey's Main Entrance
The Abbey was founded as a Cistercian Foundation over 800 years ago.  The Order still exists. and is known as a "Closed Order":  which means the members live in their monastery - spending their lives praying and working to maintain their properties and don't mix with the general populace.  After the Reformation (King Henry VIII's legacy to English History) it was transformed into a grand country estate (as part of North Nottinghamshire's "Dukeries" - Hardwick Hall, Welbeck Abbey (another nearby Stately Home still exists and is somewhere worth a visit! - in other words, watch this space!)
Entrance to the Abbey Remains
On the right hand side of the walkway to the door, one sees the current Rose Garden.  (The buildings in the background house  the Orangery and Apsidal Gallery - which we left for another visit - possibly when the seemingly ever-present rain makes an indoor visit more acceptable!). 

Then, as one walks up the steps, through the door and hallway, one is faced with a space with strong walls, but now without a roof.
The picture above is taken about mid-way in the room, which has a basement - now used as a  -Restaurant and a Library.  There are "interesting looking steps down to ground level from this space.   (We decided not to try the stairway at the other end - not shown - of this space:  particularly as they didn't appear that easy to negotiate:  at least for a Little Person and his Granma!  To be fair to them, Mummy isn't that keen on claustrophobic spaces either - and these certainly gave that impression!)
The walls surrounding the space are in pretty good condition for their age, and have their fair share of windows (without glass - unlike Hardwick Hall's collection!) and an interesting feature are the decorative gargoyles to be seen at the top of many of the openings.

Well, what with all the illustrations, and descriptions to date, think this post is long enough.  So, I'll close for this week, and I can show you just part of the beautiful parkland setting in which Rufford Abbey lies next time around.
Meanwhile, the Baby Rabbit replacement list has been reduced somewhat - as I've been able to sew more easily back home this week.  All the elements required are in the same room!  I'm also embarking on a new range of  Nursery Toys which I hope to be offering shortly.  Yesterday, I purchased the materials I'm thinking of using to make Nursery Mobiles - which seem to be pretty popular toys at the present time, and will be using my current Plush and Fleece Baby Rabbits, as well as three new Cuddlies.  I've re-discovered the patterns I've had all along for Baby Teddy Bears and am going to have a go at Baby Monkeys and Baby Lambs as well.  (I've had the patterns ever since I first began making Cuddly Toys in the 1950's).  Am thinking that perhaps its about time I actually made some!!
See you all next week - God willing!  Meanwhile, have a great one Everyone.
Coldham Cuddlies Clinic