Creeping my way slowly and very deliberately into Bring Up The Bodies, I am revelling in every word, but desperate for some fine weather and a bit of Tudor atmosphere, and sensing that you probably all fancied a trip out too, Bookhound and I went in search of sun and history on Friday, heading east across the Shire to Cadhay Manor. This is where Hilary Mantel's recent TV interview Meet the Author, for BBC News 24, was filmed.
As luck would have it Cadhay Manor and gardens are open to the public on Friday afternoons from 2pm to 5pm for a very reasonable entry charge of £7, and though it is one of Devon's top ten visitor attractions I still feel it is a hidden gem....because in the thirty-six years we've lived here we thought we'd been everywhere, but never here. If you are heading to the West Country on a Friday any time soon, divert to Ottery St Mary and visit, you will love it, and there is holiday accommodation there, you could stay and pretend you owned it.
In fact we had to divert all over the place to find Cadhay because the road was closed. Thinking we were being very clever and guessing a quick cut through we had to do a big circle back to where we started, and then do as we were told by the yellow signs. But in the end it probably all resembled a Tudor Royal progress anyway, so we just took it on the chin and admired the scenery (twice.)
I will write much more about Cadhay soon because there is so much about the house and its history to share. We had the most brilliant of tour guides (thank you Karen) who conversed with rather than spouted at us (I am usually a bit tour guide averse) answering all our questions and appreciating our observations and contributions.
There were one or two other things we appreciated too, and whilst I know this is not possible in all historic houses, the fact that Cadhay have acheived this is to their credit. They have worked hard to create a sense of intimacy with the surroundings as you walk around. As you can see, I'm sitting on this seat as if I do own the place and those carefully manicured yews, when in fact Rupert Thistlethwayte does, but isn't that what imagination is for when you visit places like this.
The house is licensed for weddings too so this is still a working house that must earn its keep and pay its way.
But even better for the visitor...
...You are not treated like a potential thief or a vandal, nothing is roped off, just a few discreet signs on a few delicate objects saying 'Please Don't Touch' but otherwise fine.
...Chairs minus those well-placed prickly teasels, and the welcome suggestion that you sit down and make yourself comfortable in them while the guide talks.
...No signs saying bags and cameras forbidden. I was allowed to take pictures all the way round, except for the silver cupboard, so you'll have to take my word for that when I tell you about it.
...The tea room is perfect...so perfect that we completely forgave them for selling our 'reserved' scones and felt sure the coffee and walnut cake was in fact preferable. It was our fault, we'd taken so long to look around they thought we'd forgotten the cream tea and gone home.
...And after so much rain of late we had almost forgotten it might be spring until we felt the warmth of the Cadhay sun and watched these.
All sufficient enough to make hearts sing and who knows, perhaps summer is just around the corner.
More about Cadhay's fascinating history soon.