First on our tour was Charlecote Park, home to the Lucy family since the 12th Century. The current, rather impressive, house was built in the 1550's, the walls built of contrasting red brick and pale stone.
In the Great Hall the first thing that caught my eye was the fabulous pietra dura table, just like the one at Powis Castle where I used to work. I love the colourful stone and intricate designs. Turns out this trip was a good one for my love of pietra dura.
Also in the Great Hall were lots of family portraits. There was an interesting one of Thomas Lucy III and his family. It is strange that the eldest son, Spencer, seems to be stood outside, while the rest of the family were stood close together inside. We thought it may have been to symbolise that he had died as a child, but he lived to inherit his father''s title. The picture features seven of the families 13 children.
There were also a series of slightly strange plaster busts of members of the family displayed in the Great Hall. I love looking at paintings and statues like these, they give a great idea of the clothing and fashion of the period.
The Dining Room has fantastic decor, amazingly bright wallpaper and a lovely plaster ceiling.
It also has great views out over the formal gardens.
I love libraries, and this library is a real treat. Beautiful inlaid furniture, and lots of lovely looking old books and another pietra dura table!
Charlecote also has a small connection to William Shakespeare as it is believed it was at Charlecote Park Shakespeare was caught poaching. The connection is amplified in the library where Shakespeare's Second Folio is on display (under a cover to protect it from too much light).
There were a lot of very nice objects in the house, pretty earth quake detectors in the Billiard Room, where looked like tall buildings with lots of bells hanging from the roof that would ring if the ground shook.
There was a lovely love seat in the Drawing Room, where they were doing some conservation in action! There was also a lovely gold and jeweled writing set on a table in one of the bedrooms.
There didn't seem to be a lot to see on the top floor but that might have been because the family still have rooms in the house. It must be amazing to say that your family have lived in your home since the 12th Century!
Despite a strong start, and the fact that the family still live there, I didn't really get a feel for the characters, or the story of the house.
The grounds were lovely, and there is a really pretty stone work along the walls and the top of the house. It helped of course that it was a lovely sunny day!
We then had the first of many cream teas of the holiday in the Orangery, which was very nice, and headed off to the next property.