Cold and wet with a blustery wind: that’s what we woke to this morning. The forecast did not suggest any improvement for the rest of the day.
After that lovely spell of hot Spring weather a week or so ago, we have returned to normal Easter Bank Holiday weather, here in Oxfordshire.
What to do?
With two boys disinclined to join in (understandably as both have major exams in the coming Summer term, and both need to revise) we three adults, Cyclomaniac, his mother (Milly) and me, decided to visit a National Trust property.
We are members of The National Trust and as such pay an annual fee and receive in return a regular newsletter, a handbook and free entry to many properties around the UK. Some of them quite spectacular.
Today’s trip was to Claydon House in Buckinghamshire, only about a half an hours drive away. The house is managed by the National Trust, but the gardens, grounds and other aspects are still in the hands of the Verney family, who live in a wing of the house.
After wandering around the outbuildings where we found arty shops and galleries, plus the cafe for a quick lunch we considered the garden tour, but given the biting wind and the earliness of the season, we decided to come back to investigate another time. We went next to a small bookshop… second-hand books in a warm snug room, with comfy chairs and several families enjoying the books. It was completely unmanned, and to pay there was a small posting slot in a door. All done on trust at the National Trust!
We came away with garden books, novels, a hardback copy of AA Milne’s ‘When we were Six’ and spent about £15 in all!
Next the house.
I was intrigued to find out that Florence Nightingale, our famous nurse, was a sister-in-law to one of the Verneys. The website tells us:
“In the 19th century Sir Harry Verney married Frances Parthenope Nightingale, sister of Florence. Sir Harry was devoted to Florence, and she enjoyed spending her summers here. Her bedroom, many of her letters, and other mementos can be seen today.”
Florence Nightingale spent a great deal of time in the Crimean War, instigating significant changes and wrote an amazing amount on nursing, making a huge impression on the development of nursing as a profession and establishing the St Thomas’ Nursing School – the following is taken from the Wiki page:
“By 1859 Nightingale had £45,000 at her disposal from the Nightingale Fund to set up the Nightingale Training School at St. Thomas’ Hospital on 9 July 1860. (It is now called the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery and is part of King’s College London.) The first trained Nightingale nurses began work on 16 May 1865 at the Liverpool Workhouse Infirmary. She also campaigned and raised funds for the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital in Aylesbury, near her family home.”
The grandeur of the house contrasts so sharply with what she would have seen in the war hospitals: is that why she loved spending her Summers there?
See for example the staircase