Saturday 13 September 2014

Hinton Ampner

The approach to Hinton Ampner in Hampshire is a bit like Planet of the Sheep - there are absolutely loads of them stood along the driveway watching you go past, with their impassive yet knowing eyes. Hinton is famous for its ghostly history but I'd take my chances with the ghosts any day. 

Anyway. Hinton Ampner is a lovely place, once you get past the sheep:

Hinton Ampner

I hope they don't mind me saying this though, but it doesn't really have The M25 Factoid that most National Trust properties have. By that I mean; when I say to the scone sidekick "let's go to X", his first question is always "where is it?" followed by "what's there?". He hates the M25, so if the answer to the first question involves driving one measly junction of it, the answer to the second question better be good. And Hinton Ampner doesn't really have anything to make you think "I MUST see this".

It's a truly beautiful property though, with pretty and homely gardens, and we were both really pleased that we made the trip. The history in brief:
  • Ralph Dutton handed the property over to the National Trust in 1985
  • His ancestors had lived on the estate for 500 years
  • The first house had been built in the 1500s and was said to be haunted
  • It was demolished in 1793 and a Georgian house was constructed instead
  • Ralph's grandfather renovated the house in a style that Ralph detested
  • In 1935, Ralph inherited Hinton and restored it to its Georgian glory
  • He filled it with historic furnishings to fit the Georgian theme
  • But the house caught fire in 1960 and Ralph had to start again
  • This means that the house you see today is actually the newest house in the care of the National Trust - it was built in the 1960s, which is after the Beatles' childhood homes and everything! And there's The Factoid! Hurray!
You had to ask permission to take photos in the house and I just couldn't be bothered, so I didn't take any. I'm sure the rules were something simple like 'don't use a flash' or 'don't climb on the sofa to get an aerial shot' so why they couldn't just put that on a sign somewhere I don't know.

The Hinton Ampner scone
Anyway. Let's move on to the scones because I did get a photo of those. The scones at Hinton were melt-on-the-tongs, which is why they look a bit dented in the picture below. A stale scone doesn't crumble when you pick it up though, so I was very hopeful. And I wasn't disappointed: the plain scone was lovely, while the fruit scone was a complete triumph. Even the scone sidekick declared it a 5 out of 5 and he's normally harassing me to give a 2.

Hinton Ampner National Trust scones

I'm going to finish with another observation on the Hinton Ampner sheep. I said earlier that it was all a bit Planet of the Sheep as they stood at the side of the drive staring, but I actually don't think we have anything to worry about - they're too lazy to take over the planet and enslave us all. Look at them:

Hinton Ampner sheep

Hinton Ampner: 5 out of 5
Scones: 5 out of 5
Get-up-and-go of the sheep: 0 out of 5

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