Sunday, 30 November 2014

Wessex Yeomanry Ride 2014, Worcester Lodge, Badminton

The Royal Wessex Yeomanry is the Territorial Army armoured regiment of Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Devon and Dorset. The Regimental Ride has its origins in the 19th century when the Challenge Cup was competed for by the Yeomanry regiments of the West of England. in the late 1930's the ride was held by the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars in the Beaufort country. This continued until 1970 when the ride was moved to Ewen and then to Frampton-on-Severn  in the Berkeley country. In 1985 the ride returned to Badminton, to Cape Farm.

No matter how many times one is lucky enough to gaze upon Worcester Lodge, Badminton, venue for the Wessex Yeomanry Ride, William Kent's masterpiece and one of the most gorgeous buildings in England, does what what it was designed to do. Worcester Lodge takes the breath away.

At the conclusion of the Wessex Yeomanry Ride the Duke of Beaufort's hounds meet at Worcester Lodge, fifteen minutes later than usual, at 11 o'clock.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Jupiter Artland, "Temple of Apollo"

The Temple in Gala Wood At Jupiter Artland is built from Portland stone and embellished with gold leaf lettering by Ian Hamilton Finlay. The quote ' Consecutive upon Apollo a titanic revolt in his heart' is from L.A. St-Juste, Finlay's 'Apollo of the French Revolution'

"Temple (n): a sacred place; a place menaced by bailiffs."

Monday, 17 November 2014

Pentrych Hunt

The Pentrych Hunt in South Wales had a 200 year old history. For much the 20th century the hunt enjoyed close links with Crichton-Stuart  family. Both the Marquess and Marchioness of Bute had been Masters. In particular the 4th Marchioness was a passionate foxhunter, she was not only Master of the Pentrych but also of the Eglington in Scotland. She collected numerous hunting trophies which were displayed at the stables in Cardiff, including the brush of a fox killed by the Vatican hounds in Italy. At Castell Coch, the jewel of a castle on the former Bute estate north of Cardiff, in the Well tower, is a vitrine containing cut out wooden figures of the Pentrych Hunt, hounds,horses, masters and servants.

The livery of the Pentrych Hunt was a brown coat with a black velvet collar and brass buttons worn with a red waistcoat.

Every season the Bute family gave a meet of the Pentrych Hunt at Castell Coch.

Meet of the Pentrych Hunt at Castell Coch

In 2014 the Pentrych Hunt amalgamated with the Llangeinor Hunt.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Castle Menzies

From the 14th century Weem near Aberfeldy  was held by Clan Menzies (pronounced 'Mingiz'). They built  a fortified tower  below the Rock of Weem to control  the road between Strath Tay and Rannoch. It was here in 1488 that the clan chief built  the 'Place of Weem' to replace an earlier stronghold,  destroyed by fire. This too was burnt to the ground fifteen years later by Neil Stewart of Garth. Sir Robert Menzies was incarcerated at Garth and was forced to sign away some of his lands by Stewart who claimed them as a dowry settlement. The case was found against Stewart who was later forced to make restitution. A new castle was built to replace the ruin, which forms the oldest part of the present Castle Menzies.

In 1577 the upper storey and roof were altered and the elaborate dormer windows added that give Castle Menzies its distinctive appearance. The completed building is a classic example of a Z-plan castle that represents the transition between from a fortified tower-house built for defence and a mansion designed for domestic comfort and display.

Arms of Sir Neil Menzies and his wife Grace Conyers Norton (1840)
above the 19th porch


The Great Hall

Earlier hopes of peace in the Highlands were dashed when the Civil War broke out. The Menzies clan fought against James Graham, Marquis of Montrose. The chief of Clan Menzies was killed in a skirmish and his son died at the battle of Inverlochy in 1645. Castle Menzies was occupied by General Monck  in the 1650's but the family fortunes rose again when they were created Baronets of Nova Scotia in 1665.

Withdrawing Room

The chief of Clan Menzies did not support the Jacobite Risings, and Castle Menzies was captured and occupied by Jacobites in 1715. Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed here for two nights in 1746, but four days later the castle was occupied by the Hanoverian forces led by the Duke of Cumberland. In January 1746 the Jacobite army withdrew from the siege of Stirling Castle to Crieff where it divided into two parts, the low landers and cavalry under Lord George Murray to proceed to Inverness along the coast and the clans, led by the Prince, to move north over the mountains. The Prince and his troops left Crieff for Aberfeldy and crossed the Tay by General Wade's bridge constructed less than twenty years earlier. Even though the then Menzies Chief, Sir Robert Menzies of Menzies had refused to participate in the rebellion he offered the Prince his hospitality who stayed at Castle Menzies on 4th and 5th February before going on to Blair Castle.

Prince Charlie's Room

The last of the Menzies of Weem died in 1918. Castle Menzies was used by Polish forces during WW2 after which it became derelict, but was restored and is now cared for by the Clan Menzies Society who acquired the building in 1957.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Queen's Dairy, Rambouillet

Louis XVI had a dairy built for the Queen in 1786-1787 at Rambouillet the estate he had bought in 1783 to indulge his love of hunting. It seems Marie Antoinette was no so enamored with the estate so the king asked architect Jean Theniven to build the dairy as a surprise for her.

The entrance is flanked by two round pavilions that resemble dovecotes with brickwork window surrounds and piers. The left hand pavilion was used for resting and entertaining, whilst the one on the right with its adjoining buildings was used as the working dairy, where milk was prepared for turning into butter, cream and cheese.

The central pavilion of the ornamental dairy, reminiscent of a Greek temple, was where visitors sampled the produce. The pediment contains a medallion representing a cow suckling its calf, the emblem for the dairy sculpted by Pierre Julien.

The first room, lit from above is the rotunda covered with a ceiling with rosettes carved in oak leaves and acorns, a reference to the surrounding forest. Against the sandstone walls marble tables mounted on consoles were used to lay out the Sevres tableware used for serving milk and the other dairy products. 

The second room, the 'cooling chamber' is an extraordinary surprise, at the far end of the rectangular room is  a grotto with a chaotic tumble of artificial rocks, in the midst of which is the sculpture, The Nymph Amaltheus and her Goat,by Julien. The Nymph's feet used to be washed by water flowing from the springs while fine jets of water sprayed from either side of the grotto used to cool the bowls of water.