Saturday, 13 April 2019

Erddig

I do like a little bit of scandal at my National Trust properties. My initial research suggested I wasn't going to find any at Erddig (pronounced Erthig), near Wrexham; it was a straightforward case of stately home inhabited by slightly peculiar family.

But no! I just happened to chance upon a book called The Housekeeper's Tale, which has a chapter dedicated to the "THIEF COOK!!" who blighted the lives of Erddig's owners in 1907, and it changed everything for my visit. 

Erddig Hall

But before we get to the gossip, here's a quick history of the house:

  • Work started on Erddig Hall in 1684
  • It was built by Joshua Edisbury, who was High Sheriff of Denbighshire
  • He sounds like a generous man who took care of his friends and relatives, so naturally it all ended horribly for him and he went bust
  • It was bought by a John Meller, who was not quite so inclined to subsidise his nearest and dearest
  • He died in 1733 and left the estate to his nephew, Simon Yorke I - the Yorkes would remain at Erddig until the 1970s

One of the pecularities of the Yorke family was that they collected portraits of their staff. It was a tradition started by Philip Yorke I, who inherited Erddig in 1767. He would write little poems to go with them, giving the history of the employee. 

The portraits had turned into photographs by the twentieth century and you can see all of them lined up in the corridor as you enter the house. Albert the gardener below, for example, has his picture with his poem in the bottom left and right-hand corners:


There is no portrait of Ellen Penketh, the Cook-Housekeeper at Erddig from 1902-1907. She is mentioned though - her successor's poem leaves you in no doubt that Ellen is not remembered fondly in these parts, describing her as; "As foul a thief as e'er we saw/Tho' white-wash'd by Un-Civil Law."


The background to this tale is as follows:

  • In 1877, Philip Yorke II married a woman called Annette Puleston - his dad bullied him into the marriage by all accounts
  • Philip spent their honeymoon painting watercolours, which might explain why Annette literally did a runner soon after - she escaped on a milk float with her lady's maid without a word to anyone
  • Philip stayed away from Erddig until Annette died in 1899 and he was free to remarry
  • His new wife, Louisa, was  a vicar's daughter who had never run a large house - she kept diaries that detail the difficulties she faced in hiring and retaining staff
  • In 1902 she employed Ellen Penketh as Cook-Housekeeper - Louisa was merging two roles (Cook and, er, Housekeeper) to save money
  • You only need to see the size of Erddig to know that the role of 'Cook-Housekeeper' would be a big job, even with help. In six days in 1905, as an example, Ellen would have been catering for 750 people who were attending garden parties and other events
  • Then it all went horribly wrong - it was discovered that local tradesmen were owed £500 (£28,700 in today's money) when Ellen had been given the cash to pay them
  • Ellen claimed she had lost £130 in the street (around £7,500 today) and had been trying to make good the loss
  • She was arrested and charged; the Yorkes later decided that a court case wasn't a good idea but the wheels were already in motion
  • The whole thing ended in stress and mortification for Louisa and Philip; Ellen was found not guilty by a jury, and the press had a field day with the defending barrister's comments in his summing up that the Yorkes were "idlers on the pathway of life"

I will admit that the kitchens and servants' quarters are not usually top of my list when I'm pootling about at the National Trust. But having read Ellen's story, I was fascinated to see where she had lived and worked.

This is a terrible picture but it's the housekeeper's room where she presumably spent hours trying to work out how she was going to pay back thirty grand:

Erddig housekeeper's room

And it was quite moving to see her kitchen and her pots and pans:

Erddig kitchen

I should also point out that the Yorkes referred to her as 'the thief cook' and not the 'THE THIEF COOK!!' but having read Louisa's emotional diary entries, my capitalisation and exclamation marks are appropriate.

Did Ellen THE THIEF COOK!! bake many scones during her years at Erddig? We'll never know for sure. All I do know is that I feared the worst today when I saw this specimen, as it looked distinctly cheesy to me. I could see raisins though, and a sign saying "FRUIT SCONE", so I took my chances. 

And, reader, I'm glad I did because one jab of my knife and I knew I was onto something very special. It was a triumph of a scone. It was almost sponge-like in its texture and was as fresh as fresh could be.

Erddig National Trust scone

Erddig also had another trick up its sleeve for me. Hot Cross Scones have been sighted at National Trust properties all over the land over the past week but I never dreamed that I would be lucky enough to find one. Yet there they were - sitting in a basket on the counter. I was Charlie Bucket with his golden ticket.

I took one of each, putting myself at serious risk of looking like a greedy pig (cashier: "so...that's ONE hot drink and TWO scones?") And I'm glad I did because the Hot Cross Scone tasted great - it wasn't as fresh as the fruit number, but in its heyday it had been a great scone.

Erddig hot cross scone

I'll finish with a picture of some donkeys - apparently the Yorke family liked to keep them as pets:

Erddig donkeys
"Oi - where's our thirty grand?"

Erddig: 5 out of 5
Scone: 5 out of 5
Bonus donkeys: 5 out of 5

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Where should the National Trust Scone Blogger go next?

I have given myself just 21 months to finish the National Trust Scone Odyssey, which means one thing: I need to get a move on. 

I think I have 73 properties still to visit, although this might be a little off - I don't include properties that don't have a tearoom and sometimes that's hard to tell from looking at the website. But nevermind - I'll work it out.

I need your help though - is there anywhere on the list below that is particularly good and needs a visit sooner rather than later?

Thank you all!

Aira Force and Ullswater
Antony 
Arlington Court
Ascott
Baggy Point
Barrington Court
Belmont Tower
Borrowdale
Botallack
Branscombe
Brean Down
Buckland Abbey
Burton Bradstock
Carnewas at Bedruthan
Carrick-a-Rede
Castle Coole 
Castle Drogo 
Cheddar Gorge 
Claydon
Colby Woodland Garden 
Cotehele 
Crom 
Dinefwr
Divis and the Black Mountain
Dolaucothi Gold Mines 
Dudmaston 
Dunstable Downs
Dunster Castle
Dunster Working Watermill
East Riddlesden Hall
East Soar
Erddig
Fell Foot
Florence Court
Gawthorpe Hall 
Giant's Causeway
Glendurgan Garden
Godolphin
Gunby
Hardcastle Crags
Holnicote Estate 
Horsey Windpump
Ilam
Kinder, Edale, the Dark Peak
Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses
Knightshayes
Lavenham Guildhall
Lydford Gorge
Lytes Cary Manor
Marloes Sands and Mere
Mottistone
Newark Park
Ogwen Cottage
Ormesby Hall
Overbeck's
Penrose
Plas yn Rhiw
Porthor
Portstewart Strand
Sandymouth
Selworthy
Slindon Estate
South Milton Sands
Springhill 
Stackpole
Sticklebarn and The Langdales
Tarn Hows
The Argory 
The Courts Garden
Tintinhull Garden 
Watersmeet
Wembury 
Wray Castle 

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Oxburgh Hall

My friend's little boy has come up with a completely ingenious way of telling you when he doesn't like a birthday or Christmas present. He just says, very earnestly, "IT'S NOT MY FAVOURITE". He isn't being rude; you know where you stand...everyone's a winner, if you ask me.

And so I have decided to adopt his phrase to describe how I feel about National Trust properties that are inhabited by tenant families. They are not my favourite. Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk today reminded me why.

BUT! There are LOADS of reasons why you should LOVE Oxburgh and I am going to focus on those first. 

Oxburgh Hall

1. It has a moat!
Who doesn't love a moat? Certainly not my long-suffering sister - when I asked her if she would mind driving me around East Anglia for four hours on a Saturday she thought for a moment and said "I do like a moat," and off we went. 

2. It has a gatehouse!
The gatehouse is a 'tour de force of late medieval brickwork' according to the guidebook. It was first part of the house that was built by Sir Edmund Bedingfeld in 1482.


Oxburgh gatehouse

3. It has a family that have been there forever!
The Bedingfeld clan have lived at Oxburgh for over 500 years and are still there today. I am not sure if they are related to Daniel Bedingfield of 'Gotta Get Thru This' dance tune fame but it played in my head for several hours today anyway.

4. It has a priest hole!
The Bedingfelds were (and are) Catholic. This meant that their fortunes declined very rapidly in the late 16th century - anyone continuing the Catholic faith in Elizabethan times was sanctioned, but Sir Henry Bedingfeld was in a worse position than most; he had been a strong supporter of Queen Mary and had kept the young Elizabeth I under house arrest for a time, so he probably wasn't her favourite person. The priest hole at Oxburgh is still visible in the impressive King's Room, where visiting members of the clergy could be bundled out of sight should the place get raided. Some say it was built by our friend Nicholas Owen of Baddesley Clinton fame. 

5. It has The Marian Hanging!
The managers of National Trust properties must dream of pulling up a floorboard one day and finding a lost work by Michaelangelo. Oxburgh has The Marian Hanging. It's a series of embroideries made between 1569 and 1585 by Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth Talbot of Hardwick Hall (wife of the man who was keeping Mary prisoner for Elizabeth I). It's an amazing artefact as it is believed to contain messages and thoughts that Mary was not able to otherwise articulate during her captivity.

It wasn't found under a floorboard but it did end up at Oxburgh purely by fortunate circumstance; it was given to Ann Dacre, Countess of Arundel, before being passed down through her Arundel descendants at Cowdray Park before one of them married into the Bedingfeld clan and brought the hanging to Oxburgh Hall in 1761 (and lucky they did too, as Cowdray Park suffered a terrible fire in 1767). The hanging is amazing and very well displayed. 

Marian Hanging Oxburgh

Marian Hanging Dolphin

6. It has a roof!
You can venture out onto the roof from the Queen's Room and admire the gatehouse towers up close.
Oxburgh roof view
Up on the rooooof
7. It has scones!
And not only does it have scones, it has table service in the tearoom! You don't get that in many properties, more's the pity. Table service has one giant downside though; you can't pick your scone. When the waitress put the plate in front of me today, I was very, very disappointed because the scone looked very, very small while the receipt was clearly showing me that it wasn't very, very cheap (£5.50 in fact). 

However. It turned out to be one of those Tardis scones and was a lot bigger than it looked - in fact, it was probably the perfect size. It was also very fresh and very tasty. I won't lie though - that first impression of a weeny scone after a two hour drive rankled and I had to really persuade myself to give it a deserved 5 out of 5.


Oxburgh scone

But, lovely as Oxburgh is, the fact remains that tenant-inhabited properties are just not my thing. A sign from the NT saying "please avoid wearing high heels in the house to protect the floors" is fine by me; a note from the 10th baronet with his rules and requests reminding me it's his family home is a bit irritating if I'm honest. If you want to protect your family home, don't let 75,000 people traipse through it every year.

But! We try not to be grumpy on the National Trust scone blog and it was a five-star visit: a beautiful property and a tasty scone!

Oxburgh Hall: 5 out of 5
Scone: 5 out of 5
The Marian Hanging: 5 out of 5


Saturday, 12 January 2019

Croft Castle

If someone else was paying the heating bills, I'd move in to Croft Castle in Herefordshire tomorrow. I always expect National Trust castles to be ruins, like Corfe or Bodiam, and am completely thrown when they have carpets and wallpaper and a drinks cabinet. 


Croft Castle National Trust

Here are some facts for you about Croft:

1. It has been owned by (almost) one family for (almost) 1000 years 
Bernard de Croft is listed in the Domesday Book as being settled on the estate, and his descendants are still there today. However, they did have to sell up and move out for 170 years when Sir Archer Croft lost all his money in the South Sea Bubble. It was bought by Richard Knight who owned an ironworks.

2. Owain Glyndŵr may be buried under the floor
Croft's proximity to Wales meant that it was caught up in a lot of instability in its early years. Owain Glyndŵr's last stronghold at Harlech Castle fell in 1409 and he went on the run - it is believed that he stayed at Croft (his daughter had married into the family) and died there. A tall skeleton found under the Turret Room in 1923 was believed to be him. This doesn't sound terribly scientific.

3. The Knights - not much better with money than the Crofts
Richard Knight bought Croft from Sir Archer of the South Sea Bubble for his only daughter as a wedding present. Elizabeth Johnes (as she became) and her husband did the exterior and interior up in fashionable style in the 1760s, giving it its Rococo-Gothick look. However, their son fell in love with a remote Welsh valley called Hafod and was soon investing a lot in it - he planted 3 million trees there for example - and he was forced to sell Croft in 1799 to cover his debts, much to his mother's fury seeing as it was her wedding present from her dad.

The saloon at Croft Castle

4. The sad tale of Sir Richard Croft
During the Crofts' exile from, er, Croft the 6th baronet became an obstetrician to the aristocracy. It sounds like some of his pregnancy advice to the highly popular Princess Charlotte didn't do her any favours and she died following a 52 hour labour at Claremont in Surrey. He was exonerated but he didn't get over it and shot himself while attending another birth.  

5. The Crofts come back (just as things start to get tricky for the landed gentry)
Sir Richard's grandson, Sir Herbert, moved back to the family's old stomping ground in Herefordshire and became an MP. His grandson bought Croft in 1923 but was killed during the Second World War and left the estate to a cousin who wasn't expecting it. They sold it to another family member to cover death duties but he died, so the cousin bought it back and began a campaign to save it with the National Trust.

6. Croft has an Iron Age hill fort
Even the Crofts don't stretch back to 500 BC though, when Croft Ambrey was established. It's a hill fort about a mile and a half from the castle and excavations have shown that it was once home to at least 500 people in back-to-back houses, which immediately conjured up interesting images of an Iron Age Coronation Street in my head. The Johnes family incorporated the hill fort into their Picturesque estate and would take guests up there for picnics. 

7. It has many walking options

We passed many dogs bounding enthusiastically through the car park at Croft and although I don't have a dog, I knew that they probably weren't there for the Sèvres porcelain. The map that you get at reception lists out five really good walks through the 1500 acre parkland. I say they were really good; I didn't actually do any of them. But an 'Ancient Tree Walk' sounds good.

8. It has excellent scones
The last time I took my sister-in-law and niece on a scone mission (to Lamb House in Rye) they completely stunned me by launching into Craig Revel-Horwood level criticism of the whole experience - "this isn't fresh" "why isn't it warm?" "why is the cream in a plastic pot?" etc etc - so I spent the journey to Croft fretting that the scone would be rubbish and they'd resign and refuse to come on any more trips.

But Croft didn't let me down; a lovely tea room and a big hefty scone that was fresh and soft and delicious. A unanimous five star hit from the Craig Revel-Horwoods.




On a personal level though, Croft Castle's biggest achievement is that it broke The Curse of the National Trust Scone Blogger. In the five years since I started this quest, the first scone mission of the year has always been a disaster. Not for the scones - just issues with mud, inappropriate footwear, the place not being fully open. Croft passed without incident and so 2019 is off to a flying start.

Croft Castle: 5 out of 5
Scone: 5 out of 5

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Best National Trust Scones of 2018

I only managed 11 National Trust scone missions in 2018. But it was an improvement on six in 2017, and the totaliser is now showing 173 National Trust properties visited, which isn't too bad.

But I want you all to bear witness: I am giving myself two years to complete this National Trust scone quest. By Christmas 2020, I will have visited the remaining 70-odd remaining properties and we will indeed be able to hail the winner of the best National Trust scone of all time.

For now, though, here are my top five National Trust scones of 2018:

5. Nunnington Hall
Yorkshire has been a very happy hunting ground for the National Trust Scone Blogger. Goddards, Beningbrough, Treasurer's House, Fountains Abbey, and Nostell Priory have all scored top marks over the past five years, giving Yorkshire an eviable 100% record. So I was almost scared to go to Nunnington in case it let the side down. I needn't have worried - the scone was delicious.


4. The Workhouse
I'm not sure I feel entirely comfortable admitting that one of my top scone-eating experiences this year was in a place where destitute and starving Oliver Twists had once been given an approximation of shelter. But The Workhouse in Nottinghamshire wasn't at all what I was expecting - instead of gloom and misery, it was bright and clean. A very unusual and interesting National Trust property with (it has to be said) very tasty scones.


3. Chirk Castle
Chirk Castle near Wrexham was built by a man called Roger Mortimer in 1295, so I bought a book about Roger Mortimer and read it before I went on my mission. Unfortunately the book turned out to be about the wrong Roger Mortimer. But the Scone Blogger's motto is 'never mind!' and the two Rogers were related so it wasn't a complete waste of time. The history of the Roger Mortimers, plus the top quality scone eaten in the courtyard that they may well have passed en route to their murderous/adulterous/general medieval-ous shenanigans made it one of my top visits of the year.

2. Longshaw, Burbage, and Eastern Moors
My love for the Longshaw scone in the Peak District may have been influenced by the fact that I had to walk a long way for it (Google Maps is telling me it was just under two miles - I'm telling you it was 3 miles MINIMUM) and I had almost given up hope of ever finding a scone, or any form of foodstuff for that matter, when the tea room suddenly appeared on the path before me. But you don't deliver a tasty, lovely, warm scone on a cold January day to the Scone Blogger without being rewarded for it, so it gets a high ranking in my top five of the year.


Where do I even start with Shugborough in Staffordshire? It wasn't on my radar at all until a couple of reports started coming in of fantastic scones. There is good reason for this - although the National Trust has owned Shugborough since 1960, the local council ran it until 2016. 

It has everything: it was the ancestral home of Patrick Lichfield, society photographer, so you can visit his apartments with its pictures of Princess Margaret and Mick Jagger. It has an impressive house; it has expansive grounds with follies and bridges; it has a farm; it has a fascinating history of two brothers and a cat that may have circumnavigated the globe.

But most important of all (to me anyway) it has excellent, excellent scones. I swear that I wasn't influenced by the little display of the Book of Scones that they had in the tea-room, but I was definitely swayed by the fruit scone, which was perfection in itself, and the lemon and cranberry scones that they had on offer as well. Totally deserving of their ranking as best National Trust scones of 2018.

There are some National Trust properties that are great and they know it - Waddesdon Manor for example, with its house, estate, history, and minibuses. And then there are National Trust places that promise nothing and turn out to be brilliant. Shugborough is definitely one of the biggest surprises I've ever had on this quest and I highly recommend it. 

My heartfelt thanks as ever to all of the Sconepals who have sent photos of themselves or their scones in 2018 - I appreciate each and every one of them. 

I would like to give a special mention to Cory Putman Oakes, who this year baked all 50 scone recipes from the Book of Scones AND took stunningly beautiful photographs of the results - I hope she doesn't mind me sharing the Hot Cross Scone example below (her 50th and final bake). You can see all the photographic evidence on her Instagram. Thank you, Cory!



Happy New Year everyone, and here's to a sconeful 2019!

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Lamb House

Lamb House in Rye has been the home of many authors over the years, including Henry James, E.F. Benson, and Rumer Godden. 

I knew, without even looking, what was going to happen next: I would be 99.9% sure that I had read many novels by Henry James but I would discover that I hadn't read any of them (tick); I wouldn't know any of E.F. Benson's works at all (tick); and Rumer Godden would have written some obscure children's story that only I and 0.01% of the population remembered, which I would get really excited about, ignoring all her other more important works (tick, tick, and tick).

But before we get to the literary history, let's talk about Lamb House itself:

1. It's in Rye and Rye is fantastic
I had never been to Rye in Sussex and I highly recommend it. It's a lovely place.

Lamb House
The back of Lamb House -
I forgot to take a picture of the front
2. It was built by James Lamb
Lamb was a wine merchant who was greatly respected in the town and served as mayor thirteen times. He built Lamb House in 1723 in smart Georgian style.

3. It once provided shelter to George I
In 1726, a storm drove George I's ship onto nearby Camber Sands and he was stranded in the town. Lamb House was the smartest residence and so James offered the king his bed. This was slightly inconvenient for Martha Lamb, who was very pregnant. In fact, she was so pregnant she gave birth that night - the child was baptised two days later with the name George, the king stood as godfather and gave the baby a silver bowl and 100 guineas as a christening present.

George i
Would you give your bed up to this man
if you were about to go into labour?
4. Henry James first saw Lamb House in a painting
The house was sold to a banker in 1864 but it wasn't until 1897 that Henry James moved in, when he was 55. He had first seen a watercolour of Lamb House's Garden Room (a separate building that James Lamb had constructed next to the house) in a friend's home and went to visit the real thing the next summer. The house became available and he moved in.

4. Henry James loved the place
He lived at Lamb House from May to October every year, sometimes staying longer, before decamping to his rooms at the Reform Club in the winter. He wrote every day, using the Garden Room for his writing in summer and then the Green Room in winter:

Green Room Lamb House
Henry James' winter writing room - the Garden Room 
where he wrote in summer was obliterated by a bomb during WW2

Henry James wrote many of his best works at Lamb House, including The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903), and The Golden Bowl (1904)He also entertained many friends at the house, including HG Wells, Edith Wharton, and Rudyard Kipling who lived nearby at Batemans.

5. E.F. Benson immortalised Lamb House in his books
Henry James never married, so his nephew inherited the house in 1916. E.F. Benson, a friend of James, took on the lease in 1919. He wrote 70-odd books but his most famous works are the six Mapp and Lucia novels, which were made into a TV series. Lamb House is actually in the books - renamed as Mallards - as is Rye itself, renamed as Tilling.

6. Rumer Godden
Rumer Godden lived at Lamb House from 1968 to 1973, by which time it had been given to the National Trust. She wrote a lot of books, including Black Narcissus about some nuns losing the plot in the Himalayas, which was made into a film.

BUT - and I'm truly sorry about this, Rumer - I only recognised her name from a very bizarre kids' TV show called Tottie: The Story of a Doll's House. It was very weird and featured a storyline about a horrible china doll murdering another flammable doll by setting fire to the house so she melted.

This is Tottie on the right
with two of the other very bizarre characters
Anyway, enough about melting dolls. What about the scones?

I had taken my sister-in-law and niece along on this scone mission, expecting the usual response when I invite guests; slight bafflement at the whole project mixed with huge enthusiasm for the idea of eating scones.

But no. They were brutal in their criticism. They didn't understand why the cream was served in plastic tubs (huh?) and they straight away sussed that the scones weren't home made. 

I explained the situation: sometimes NT properties don't have a proper kitchen and so you do come across the mass-produced scone seen below (it always reminds me of someone who has spent 2 hours a day on a sunbed for 20 years). My hopes were very low but actually it didn't taste too bad. The two Craig Revel Horwoods agreed.


Lamb House scones

Frankly, I think the National Trust got away very lightly when I designated myself the authority on NT scones. I'm a pussycat compared to the others out there.

Lamb House: 4 out of 5
Scone: 3 out of 5
Rye: 5 out of 5

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Nunnington Hall

I do like a bit of skulduggery and intrigue at my National Trust properties. If you read the Wikipedia entry for Nunnington Hall you'll find a mysterious little factoid; "Another feature of the garden are the resident peacocks. On June 10th 2007, Bluey, the head of the peacock family, died in suspicious circumstances." 

My imagination ran riot with this piece of information. Was he done in by another peacock? Poisoned by a crazed fan of a rival tourist attraction? Or did he end his own life, consumed with low self esteem because he hadn't been given a very imaginative name?

Nunnington Hall

But it wasn't suicidal peacocks I was looking for today. This trip to Yorkshire was an emergency; my last five missions (to BrockhamptonFyne CourtColeridge CottageThe Firs, and Dyffryn Gardens) were all very lovely, but none of the scones was top class. I was getting worried. I needed a five star scone.

In fact, Nunnington Hall itself turned out to be a nice little place and definitely one of those NT houses that you could live in. Here's some history:
  • In Tudor times, the Nunnington estate was owned by the Parr family - Catherine Parr found great fortune by marrying and outliving Henry VIII, while her brother William was sentenced to death for his part in putting Lady Jane Grey on the throne for nine days (he survived, although Nunnington was taken away from him)
  • The Norcliffe family built the oldest parts of the house we see today in the early 17th century
The Stone Hall at Nunnington
The Stone Hall, built in the 17th century.
Maybe not one for wildlife lovers.
  • Sir Thomas Norcliffe, a devout Puritan, gave the hall up to house Parliamentary troops during the Civil War, after which it fell into disrepair
  • Ranald Graham moved in next - he and then his great nephew Richard remodelled the house
  • Richard also ended up being sentenced to death, this time for being a staunch supporter of James II - he too survived, by naming all of his co-conspirators
  • Nunnington became a derelict farmhouse until bought by the Rutsons
  • Margaret Fife (who was born a Rutson) inherited in 1920 - she and her husband employed Walter Brierley (who also designed nearby Goddards) to turn Nunnington Hall into a family home, and that's what we see today

But let's move on to the scone. It started well. The tea room is in the house and it's table service, which is quite rare - Goddards, Lyme, and Rufford Hall are the only others I can think of that come and take your order. There's also a really lovely tea garden but it was tipping it down with rain so I stayed indoors.

The scone arrived speedily and looked stunning.

Nunnington Hall Scones

Reader, it was stunning. It was light as a feather and fresh as a daisy. I cannot tell you how relieved I was to finally be back on the five star track.

I was so excited by the scone that I forgot all about Bluey the peacock and his untimely demise. Luckily, I was reminded by one of his peacock crew, presumably called Greeny or something, who was pecking about on his own looking for clues.

Nunnington Peacock

Nunnington Hall: 4 out of 5
Scone: 5 out of 5
Peacocks: My success in solving the mystery of Bluey's murder: 0 out of 5