Saturday, 26 November 2011

Burton Agnes at Christmas with friends

I have my pal Mary staying with me, she's over from Perth, Australia and she's squeezed a trip to east yorkshire into her schedule.
So today we went allecking about abit....
to Burton Agnes Hall which was all dressed up for Christmas.

The really nice thing about this elizabethan gem is that unlike National Trust houses (which are wonderful... yes), this is lived in and 'alive'. Windows do not have blinds half drawn to prevent light entering and maybe fading fabrics or walls.
It breathes lives being lived, rather than is historically mausaleum like.
There's an amazing collection of modern art work there, as well as the usual array of family portraits, by masters of oils from days long gone.
There are pointilist, impressionist and all manner of other art works, collected by the current and previous occupant.

Today I noticed new, modern atmospheric watercolours of soldiers in combat, hung above a collection box for the SSAFA organisation.
Touching to see that.

The fifteen generations of the same family who have owned this stately home have much to be proud of because its snowdrop festooned woodland in spring and its walled garden throughout the year, are a joy to walk through. The house is captivating since its a piece of living history, that is still 'alive' now.
Simon and Olivia Cunliffe-Lister have dressed the house with hand made decorations of used branches and boughs from the woodland, pine cones gathered from the grounds, hydrangea heads from the huge bushes surrounding the house and all manner of traditional, simple but effective decorations which hark back to how it might well have been dressed in years long gone.
There were christmas tree shapes made from old books and small lanterns made from book pages too, hung on branches in huge pots.
There were handmade origami rabbits in the chinese room to signify the year of the rabbit and all these decs were made by the master and his wife themselves it says in the literature.
The village school had a display in one room, of angels, all made by themselves with paper plates and tissue paper.
I forgot to take my camera so these are Mary's handiwork!
Take a look...

Above is looking from the main house to the gatehouse......
First picture at top is from the gatehouse to the house.
To one side of the main house is a C13th Norman Hall which has been renovated and is quite a sight to see.
You go into a low ceilinged, heavily vaulted ground floor where cattle would have been housed no doubt and maybe food cooked there too.
In one corner are truly narrow, twirly steps to the upper floor which has a cavernously high ceiling of ancient old beams.
Its incredible to stand in there and realise just how old the stonework and beams are!

Inside the house itself is a small main hall by stately home standards but its really homely and has amazing stone panelling at one end.
There were dried hydrangea heads, which had been spray painted with a pill box red paint and then had a light sparkly spray on them...........they were ever so effective and I wouldnt have thought to do that to the flower heads at all!

Now how about that for a wreath and
there were several this size!

Slim, no doubt coppiced branches, bound together in teepee shapes, sprayed white..........effectively grouped.
I loved the 'bubble' effect of the clear glass baubles on the branch above.

And these reindeer made out of red dogwood simple but they looked so cute! And wouldnt they be good to make with kids?

I also took Mary to see the Halifax 158 Sqn memorial statues at Lissett nearby.
I've mentioned these before, evocative rusty metal figures of a returning aircrew, set beside the country road which was once the outskirts of the old wartime RAF Lissett.
A site that now has several elegant wind turbines on it, so "propellers" are once again turning on the old airfield.
Mary and I were both Air Load Masters in the RAF on 10 Sqn so as Aircrew, it seemed an appropriate place for us to go see.
We topped the day off with red wine and watched my bargain of the week - the dvd 'How to make an American Quilt' which cost me only £1.50 in a 'reduced' basket, at Homebase!
I hadnt seen it for years....Winona Rider, Maya Angelou, Ann Bancroft etc...........shmaltsy but touching never the less!

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