Tag Archives: England

A Christmas Mouse in Our House

We want to take a moment and wish each and everyone of you a Merry Christmas! Thank you for following our adventures and information on the store. Our stories will continue into 2017 and we can’t wait to share them with you.

In October, we visited England for the second time in 2016. Besides our usual shopping in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, we spent some time in Yorkshire; particularly York, Harrogate and Fountains Abbey.

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Red House Antiques. The best centre we found in York.

We’d been to York before as tourists, but this visit we focused on shopping for the store. We visited a few antique centres; nothing special to report. Prices were higher than we are accustom to paying. We were in York on a Saturday and so were thousands of other visitors.

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Part of the wall that surrounds York. We walked part of the wall on this visit.

At the end of our visit, we found what Philip was really seeking….a candy store. In fact, there were two directly across from each other and he shopped both. At Cocoa & Sweet, he scored big. Located in a Georgian building in a lane across from the York Minister (which is amazing!), Cocoa & Sweet features high-end chocolates, either bars or local chocolates from a case. It’s a beautiful little shop with enticing displays. We bought Montezuma bars (from West Sussex) for gifts for the family back home and Philip chose several wonderful local pieces from the case.

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Cocoa & Sweet York.

Theresa found the cutest Sugar Mice. According to the owner, Sugar Mice are a Christmas tradition in England. They are given to family members in their stockings. Traditionally, they are white or pink and have string tails. We’re guessing that they are purchased at candy stores or made at home. We purchased a few because who wouldn’t want a sugar mouse in their stocking? What a fun tradition!

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Two New-to-Us Fairs: Sandown and Sunbury

Kempton Park, just after the gates opened at 6:30 a.m. In less than 30, the asphalt on the lower level will be totally covered, as the dealers drag items out of their vans. The process was just begun in this photo. On the upper level, where this photo was taken, there are many rows of dealers doing the same thing.

Kempton Park, just after the gates opened at 6:30 a.m. In less than 30, the asphalt on the lower level will be totally covered, as the dealers drag items out of their vans. The process was just begun in this photo. On the upper level, where this photo was taken, there are many rows of dealers doing the same thing.

Conclusion of our spring antique shopping trip reports

In April, we visited many new-to-us shops, centres and fairs over a two-week period. We concluded our trip in London, where we visited IACF’s Monday Market at Sandown (Esther UK) and Sunbury Antique Market (Sunbury UK) at Kempton Park. Both are located at horse racecourses in urban areas and both have an array of antiques, vintage and collectibles outside and inside the grandstands. Both are close to Heathrow.

A purchase at Sunbury Antique Market. The orange tape is used to indicate our purchases. We went through a lot of it on the April trip!

A purchase at Sunbury Antique Market. The orange tape is used to indicate our purchases. We went through a lot of it on the April trip!

The IACF’s Monday Market at Sandown Racecourse is the smaller of the two. We finished it in less than two hours. It opens at 8 a.m., so we recommend getting there right at 8 a.m. to avoid Monday rush hour traffic. They won’t let in before that time. Parking is $5 per car. The outside pitches didn’t offer much, but we found some wonderful Black Forest pieces inside the grandstand. There is an indoor café. It’s a small relaxing collectors’ fair with a few bargains.

Philip is standing with Mark, one of our packers, outside the grandstand at Kempton Park.

Philip is standing with Mark, one of our packers, outside the grandstand at Kempton Park.’s

In comparison, Sunbury Antique Market is not relaxing and finding a bargain requires effort. It opens at 6:30 a.m. (before the sun comes up) and the sellers start packing up by noon. It’s very crowded. Parking is free. Come early and line up at the entry gate, where once the gates are open, there’s a mad rush to be the first one to buy the great piece. As we stood in line, we chatted with a young man who was there to buy some mid-century and over-sized furniture pieces for his recording studio. Not the typical antique buyer, but we’re betting he found it. Nevertheless, we found some great pieces of art and some interesting smalls. The indoor pitch space seemed to be completely full and there were tons of outdoor pitches. We saw one food truck. There is no signage and it’s hard to distinguish one row from another. Our advice: if you have to leave your purchase to be picked up later, count the light poles around the track and note the location of the pitch to the nearest light pole. It will help you identify the pitch later.

We hoped you enjoyed our reports. It was a great trip and we can’t wait to show you the one-of-a-kind treasures that we found for our wonderful customers! Keep a watch on our Facebook page to find out when the new items are at the store.

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Revisiting Hampton Court Palace

Main entrance to Hampton Court Palace. The Thames is on the right. We purchased tickets on the left and then walked up and through the main gate (the door in the middle).

Main entrance to Hampton Court Palace. The Thames is on the right. We purchased tickets on the left and then walked up and through the main gate (the door in the middle).

Part V of our spring antique shopping trip report

Did you know that we started dating in January 1981 while in England? We were on a Drury University Winter Term trip (Theresa as a student and Philip as an alumni’s friend). During our three weeks in England and Wales, we stopped at the Hampton Court Palace for a brief tour and walk around the gardens. Now, in 2016, we returned to London to attend two antique fairs and between the fairs, we spent an afternoon revisiting the palace.

Chapel Court Garden. Henry VIII's recreated garden with plants found in the 16th century.

Chapel Court Garden. Henry VIII’s recreated garden with plants found in the 16th century.

Most people know of Hampton Court Palace. It’s the estate that Henry VIII took away from Cardinal Wolsey, when he fell out of favor with the King. That particular historic period, the Tudors, is a favorite of ours, so going back gave us a chance to do more exploring and learning about Henry VIII.

Hampton Court Palace is a museum and no longer an active royal palace. The 6 acres are situated on the north shore of the Thames about 14 miles southwest of Buckingham Palace. In 2015, it celebrated its 500 year anniversary. It’s been open to the public since 1838 and no monarch has lived there since George II. The palace building can be separated into three time periods: The Tudors (1509-1547), The Stuarts and The Georgian monarchs. Since time was limited, we focused on exploring the rooms associated with Henry VIII: his apartments, his Kitchens, the Chapel, and the Great Hall.

One of the rooms of the ginormous kitchens built by Henry VIII to feed his guests, court and staff.

One of the rooms of the ginormous kitchens built by Henry VIII to feed his guests, court and staff.

We’ve been in many castles and famous houses, but we were excited by the Henry VIII’s kitchens. The enormous kitchens and food halls show how the staff managed to feed 600 people twice a day during Henry’s reign.

After three hours of touring just a portion of the palace, we headed out into the gardens to have ice cream in the area where Henry VIII held jousting tournaments. It was a good day.

Up next, our last installment on the IACF’s Monday Market at Sandown and Sunbury Antique Market at Kempton Park.

Fountain Court designed by Sir Christopher Wren from 1689-94.

Fountain Court designed by Sir Christopher Wren from 1689-94.

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Oh Lovejoy!

Philip standing at the entrance of the Clare Priory, est. 1248. We walked through the gardens, ruins, and the grounds around the Priory House and Catholic Church.

Philip standing at the entrance of the Clare Priory, est. 1248. We walked through the gardens, ruins, and the grounds around the Priory House and Catholic Church.

Part IV of our spring antique shopping trip.

Pockets of England hold antique treasures, just as Eureka Springs, Arkansas and Springfield, Missouri are known for antiques. So, when planning this spring’s trip, we looked for “pockets” between Lincoln (our first week) and London (our second week). We found Suffolk and Essex! Lots of shops and centres were listed online, so we did our research.

Clare Antique Centre. Near the trash bin is the footpath crossing over the River Stour and up to the entrance of the Priory.

Clare Antique Centre. Near the trash bin is the footpath crossing over the River Stour and up to the entrance of the Priory.

Once we planned our trip and booked our hotels, we happened upon the BBC Drama “Lovejoy”. “Lovejoy” was loosely based on the novels by Jonathan Gash, about a roguish, but charming antiques dealer who solves mysteries. The series ran for six seasons in England and was shown in the states on A&E Network. Lovejoy, the character, was played by Ian McShane (Deadwood, Pirates of the Caribbean, Game of Thrones). The series was about Lovejoy and his friends helping solve a mystery or a possible murder involving antiques, and usually, they straddle the line between ethical and unethical behaviour in a comical way. Lovejoy and his friend, Lady Jane (Phyllis Logan – Mrs. Hughes, Downton Abbey) dined with the upper-crust in Suffolk and Essex and helped the locals with their antique troubles.  “Oh Lovejoy!” expresses the exasperation of everyone dealing with the cunning, but gifted antique dealer.

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We purchased the first season of the series and watched it before we headed out. For us, the countryside and villages highlighted in the show were a close second to the actual drama-comedy. On our shopping itinerary were the towns of Clare, Long Melford, and Halstead. We found that each of these towns were featured in the series. So, as we toured the area in April, we could easily imagine driving on the country lanes along with Lovejoy. The area is located in the east, above London. It’s lovely, flat countryside, not many hills.

A typical country lane in East Anglia.

A typical country lane in East Anglia.

Huge copper Turbot (fish) pan found at one of Lovejoy's haunts in Long Melford.

Huge copper Turbot (fish) pan found at one of Lovejoy’s haunts in Long Melford.

Our choice proved to be a good shopping area. We attended a fair in the lovely village of Lavenham, visited two centres in Long Melford, had lunch, walked around the Priory and visited a centre in Clare, and visited the mill antique centre in Halstead. When we shopped the large centre at Halstead, we found a framed artwork of autographed cast photos from their filming visit at the centre. Just like Lovejoy, we found treasures galore and our little French rental car was full for the trip to London.

Auction in the Village of Clare. Lovejoy would have been there to spy a fake or buy an overlooked treasure.

Auction in the Village of Clare. Lovejoy would have been there to spy a fake or buy an overlooked treasure.

Halstead Antiques Centre occupy the top two floors of the Townsford Mill, est. in 1710 as a silk mill. Lovejoy filmed there in the 1980s. Do you see Philip?

Halstead Antiques Centre occupy the top two floors of the Townsford Mill, est. in 1710 as a silk mill. Lovejoy filmed there in the 1980s. Do you see Philip?

While we didn’t choose the area to follow the footsteps of Lovejoy, our trip was enhanced and more interesting because we had enjoyed season one of the series. You never know what you’ll find when you’re out shopping for antique treasures. Want to borrow our DVD?

 

We’ve got two more blogs about our spring trip to share with you. Up next, we visit one of the Queen’s palaces.

 

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Touring Chatsworth

Chatsworth-The view as you drive in.

Chatsworth-The view as you drive in.

Part II of our spring shopping trip to England.

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We planned a tourist day on our first Saturday in England in April 2016. Our destination was Chatsworth in the Derbyshire’s Peak District. We’ve visited the Peak District on several occasions and had previously been in the vicinity of the historic house, but never had the time to stop. We figured if we were ever going to visit, we’d have to make the time.

Chatsworth-The Great Hall.

Chatsworth-The Painted Hall.

Chatsworth-The Oak Room.  Behind the small paintings are doors to the cupboards.

Chatsworth-The Oak Room. Behind the small paintings are doors to the cupboards.

Chatsworth is one of the most beautiful houses in all of England. It is the seat of the 12th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and home to the Cavendish family since 1549. It is nestled in a valley along the River Derwent with forested hills providing a backdrop. Most of the vast estate is open to the public. Chatsworth’s been open to the public since the mid-1600s. There is the house, the garden, the park, the farmyard, the estate farm shop, a playground and several holiday rentals. On our visit, we toured the house and walked the garden.

Chatsworth-The Chapel Corridor

Chatsworth-The Chapel Corridor

Chatsworth-One of the Sketching Galleries

Chatsworth-One of the Sketching Galleries

Construction on the house began in 1552. It’s been owned by many generations of Cavendish, each leaving their mark on the house, the art collections and the gardens. The access that the public is granted is amazing. We saw many rooms; too many to pick a favorite, but the Painted Hall was breathtaking. “Wow” didn’t really do it justice.

Chatsworth-The Sculpture Gallery

Chatsworth-The Sculpture Gallery

 

Chatsworth-One of the lions.

Chatsworth-One of the lions.

 

We visited Chatsworth to see the art. The sculpture gallery is exceptional and we were fascinated by the “Lions of Chatsworth”. As we were touring the house, we entered a small dimly lit room. Philip looked up and said “That’s a Rembrandt!” The room guard smiled and said yes it was. The sheer volume of pieces of art in this family home is outstanding. Galleries, corridors and long halls have every inch covered by ornately framed artwork. In most cases, Philip loved the frames, as much as the oil paintings.

Chatsworth-Rembrandt

Chatsworth-Rembrandt

 

Chatsworth-Afternoon Tea with Scones and Meringues.

Chatsworth-Afternoon Tea with Scones and Meringues.

 

After we had our afternoon tea in the grand Palladian converted stables, we headed out into the gardens. There, we spent the remainder of our afternoon following paths into the different sections of the 100 acres of gardens, which were started in 1555. The sun was shining and the sheep were grazing on the parklands. We relished our time outdoors in the maze, the greenhouses, rock garden and the fountains. It was a welcome relaxing respite to the work ahead of us. We got a little carried away on our walk and found ourselves in a private area, where we happened upon a group of pheasants digging in the dirt. We skipped the Hundred Steps Ascent!

Chatsworth-The Cascade House and Cascade.

Chatsworth-The Cascade House and Cascade.

 

Chatsworth-Maze

Chatsworth-Maze

 

Americans know of Chatsworth through movies and television series. For instance, it’s been featured in “Pride and Prejudice” as Pemberley. And the house has been on our bucket list since the movie. While Jane Austin stayed at Bakewell, a town quite near Chatsworth (and where we shopped for antiques), she wrote Pride and Prejudice. Many believe she based Fitzwilliam Darcy’s home of Pemberley on Chatsworth.

From “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austin.

“They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound. It was a large, handsome stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills; and in front a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!” 

Chatsworth Sheep. Take my photo, I want to cross the road.

Chatsworth Sheep. Take my photo, I want to cross the road.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Chatsworth House and the Capability Brown landscapes. We’ve seen many grand houses and palaces and now, this is one of our favourites.

Up next, we’ll take you to Sheffield’s Antique Quarter as we continue our series of Spring 2016 Shopping Trip blogs.

P.S. Theresa has watched Pride and Prejudice 4000 times (according to Philip).

Chatsworth

Chatsworth-Theresa waiting for Mr. Darcy.

 

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England April 2016 Shopping Report

We’re back from our spring shopping trip in England. The jet lag only lasted a week (thank goodness!) and the container should hit the water later this week. The weather cooperated, for the most part, and we found some cool items for the store. We were there for two full weeks and we’ll be updating the blog with several new blog posts about our comings and goings.

We purchased this outstanding desk companion at Newark.

We purchased this outstanding desk companion at Newark.

First, and foremost, everyone wants to know what we bought. We purchased several boxes of majolica. It’s popular at the store right now and we were lucky enough to find small pitchers and cups that are on our customers’ wish lists. We bought from the same dealers, so we can trust that we got some excellent pieces at a good value.

These fun girls from Hemswell are showing off a large roofer's lead dresser. It's a tool for pounding corners of a lead roof.

These fun girls from Hemswell are showing off a large roofer’s lead dresser. It’s a tool for pounding corners of a lead roof.

It’s always a hit-or-miss when we shop. Some of the items we always carry were hard to find or simply not found at the big antique fairs. Philip was glad he could replenish his stock of sighting scopes and oil cans. These have been selling well at the store. However, we didn’t find much metalware and tins.

We did buy our usual suspects: Black Forest items, antique oil paintings, transferware, religious items and various smalls. And we found some awesome big copper pans.

Isn't this statue amazing?

Isn’t this statue amazing?

Furniture was scarce. People looking to buy quality and quantity were out of luck. There wasn’t much industrial, but shabby was still popular and those looking had to be in line early. Tents that used to be full of brown furniture were fairly empty. We did find what we were looking for and are happy with our selections. We’ve been showing some of the incoming stock on our FaceBook page, so for an insider’s view, follow us there.

ShabbyFair

A French shabby display at one of the fairs. If you like these pillows, we carry grain sacks.

The best part of shopping is bumping into friends at the fairs and dealers and shop keepers whom we have gotten to know. It’s fun to catch up with their lives and we enjoy our visits with them. It’s the people that make the difference; it’s not just work, but a mini-reunion.  We are so grateful that they’re out hunting for great stock and then, they brave the elements to bring them to us at the fairs. We were sad to hear that two of our favourite dealers were at their last fair this time. We’ll truly miss them.

David finds the best oak furniture.

David finds the best oak furniture.

We typically visit England for 10 days, but we extended our trip so we could attend a few more fairs closer to London and see some sights. Watch for more blog posts about our April adventures.

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Mad for Majolica in Missouri

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A sampling of our majolica offerings. 

Our goal is to offer shoppers in SW Missouri a wonderful and unique assortment of beautiful antique and vintage objects for the home. Philip uses his 45 years in the art world to pick those items that are an affordable mix of color, design and value. One category that we are excited to carry at the store is the colorful majolica.

What exactly is Majolica?

Our majolica refers to pieces of earthenware (clay), formed in a mold, coated with white opaque tin enamel glaze, fired at a very high temperature, and then coated with bright colored glazes and then, fired again. The bright glazes, up to nine colors, were applied all at once. There are vibrant and rather heavy objects.

Majolica has its roots in the 16th century, but what we carry is a Victorian adaption and an anglicized version of Italian pottery. Shown first at The Great Exhibition in London in 1851, the English majolica was all the rage until the turn of the 1900s. This was the time of the Englishman’s great fascination with the nature world and the majolica pieces reflect this by using natural motifs, animals and plants.

How do you know what you are buying?

We are not experts so we rely on purchasing the majority of our majolica from three sources in England. These persons are experts and help us to find affordable pieces to pass onto our customers. Without their help, it would be too frustrating to bring in majolica. There are many reproductions on the market from overseas. The big three companies, Minton, Jones and Wedgwood, used a three to four digit black number to identify their pieces, but many of the Victorian majolica manufacturers left their wares unmarked. One important tip for a potential buyer is that the undersurface of a piece, including the bottom rim, is almost always glazed.

At our store, we stick to plates, pitchers, compotes and platters. Rather than purchasing a shelf-sitter, majolica can be hung on a wall, along with transferware or used on the table. We usually have several sets of green salad plates with raised designs of different leaves. With the emphasis on food and gourmet, these salad plates add another level of enjoyment to a dining experience.

Majolica makes a great gift and a colorful addition to any home.

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Wedding Luck

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The traditional rhyme for bringing good luck to a bride:

Something old,
something new,
something borrowed,
something blue,
and a silver sixpence in her shoe.

What is a sixpence? Minted in England from 1551 to 1967, it is no longer legal tender in England since 1980. When it was, it was only worth 6 pennies. Not much to attract wealth and success to a new marriage. Cheaper than a lottery ticket and probably more wise.

It is thought to be of Scottish influence and the sixpence would be placed in the bride’s left shoe by her father. By doing so, he was wishing the best for the bridge. Luckily, it’s a small coin, about the size of an American dime. A bride has enough on her mind than worrying about a coin in her shoe.

Silver stopped being used in 1946. It hasn’t stopped the tradition of the lucky coin. Besides brides, Royal Air Force crews use them as lucky charms.

We picked up a couple on our last trip, so if you want to surprise someone getting ready to race down the aisle, stop by and pick one up for them.

 

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No Treats on Portobello Road.

Proof that we were there.

Proof that we were there.

Jump on the Tube and exit at Notting Hill Gate, follow the crowds and you will arrive at one of London’s most visited attractions. It’s a street. Portobello Road. Anyone not heard of it? Anyone else visited there? Seen bumbling Hugh Grant’s movie Notting Hill? Here’s our short review: if you are looking to buy antiques or vintage or collectibles for resale, go elsewhere.

Another early morning start.

Another early morning start.

We arrived early to beat the crowds on a Saturday, which we had heard were tremendous. That is an understatement. At 8 a.m., we had the south antique section of the street to ourselves and we started off by wandering in and out of the private small over-priced stores that line both sides of the road. We casually browsed tables set up on the sidewalks and tented booths that set up in the street.

A friendly shopkeeper on Portobello Road. This is where we bought some Polo balls.

A friendly shopkeeper on Portobello Road. This is where we bought some Polo balls.

Then we ventured into the antiquated antique stalls built into rooms of tiny buildings. Close your eyes and imagine…..You’ve entered into a retail building, but instead of open shelving and displays, there are small glass closets and each of these closets are crammed with grandma’s finest crap, from floor to ceiling. Next to the first closet is another closet and another and so on. Besides the stuff, there is a person sitting on a tiny chair reading the daily newspaper. No eye contact, although they may decide to break their silence and talk with the person on the chair opposite them. There is room for one person to carefully walk down the hall between the closets. This is not a comfortable way to shop if you are claustrophobic or carrying a child. Follow the hall as it turns the corner and exits back onto the street. There are many of these buildings and we went into each of them.

It's 10 a.m. and the crowd is growing.

It’s 10 a.m. and the crowd is growing.

By 11 a.m., Portobello Road is full of people, wall to wall people. Casually strolling is now off-limits. The throng of tourists pushes you down the road. Think about if Madison Square Gardens had only one exit and everyone was using it to go in and out at the same time. Chaos!

Jam filled donuts from a food stall on Portobello Road.

Jam filled donuts from a food stall on Portobello Road.

The road itself has developed specific sections. The south part is the antiques section, followed by food and groceries. We thought there would be flower stalls, but there weren’t many, maybe due to it being October. The food stalls were the most interesting. All types of international open air cooking were offered. The Spanish paella smelled out of the world, but we were unwilling to eat and try to walk at the same time. Then there are house ware vendors and rows and rows of vintage or simply old clothing. At the most northern end, regular people put out secondhand garage sale items. At the end, you turn around and let the mob push you back to south of the road which empties out at Notting Hill Gate.

By now, everyone is looking for a place to eat and all the eateries are full of stressed out foreign people. Luckily, we found a sushi restaurant, where we could unwind and recuperate. We did buy a few items and got to visit with a fellow Transferware Collectors Club member who sells from a double-wide glass closet. He has amazing transferware.

Sushi at itsu on Notting Hill Gate.

Sushi at itsu on Notting Hill Gate.

So, we’ve been there and done that. We’ve checked it off our bucket list. No treats on Portobello Road, but the real treat is that we are living our dream and shopping for antiques in England and the rest of Europe to bring some great pieces back to our friends in Springfield Missouri.

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Lunch at Burghley House.

Impressive gate at entrance to the house.

Impressive gate at entrance to the house.

After we finished shopping at the Festival of Antiques in Peterborough, we headed to Stamford to check out an antique centre, where we bought a few pieces for the fall container. As we wrapped up our business, we decided to head a mile down the road to eat lunch at Burghley House. Because that’s just what you do.

Main Entrance of Burghley.

Main Entrance of Burghley.

Built by William Cecil, Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I, between 1555 and 1587, Burghley House is one of the best examples of Elizabethan architecture in all of England. It has been the Cecil family’s home for over sixteen generations. It is currently owned by Michael Exeter, 8th Marquess of Exeter, 17th Earl of Exeter and 18th Baron Burghley. And he lives in Oregon!

We did not tour the house, but enjoyed our lunch and walking around in the park which was laid out by Capability Brown.

Courtyard at Burghley House.

Courtyard at Burghley House.

You might have seen Burghley before on film. In fact, it served as Lady Catherine’s home, Rosings Park, in the 2005 film version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, starring Kiera Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet.

Philip can always find ice cream.

Philip can always find ice cream.

English Country Plate Rack.

English Country Plate Rack found in Stamford at the St. Martins Antique Centre. Less than a mile from Burghley House.

 

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