One of the sad things in life is that all too often something long planned and much anticipated proves to be an anti-climax.
This summer - this spring - when I made my list of places to visit this summer, top of my list was Ellys Manor which had newly appeared on the Historic Houses Association list of houses open to the public in Lincolnshire. As an inveterate visitor to historic houses I have already seen all those on the list in Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire and . . . anyway such an addition is an all too rare treat. So at the weekend I emailed and made an appointment to visit this Wednesday, and was eagerly looking forward to it.
Ellys Manor lived up to and exceeded my expectations. Not only is it a delightful house in its own right, but the owner, Clive Taylor, who shows his visitors round personally is passionate about his home and its place in history. Surprisingly we had met before at Fountains Hall on the first day of my holiday in 2007 (see http://swallowedwhole.blog.co.uk/2007/10/02/my_holiday_diary~3073522/ ) when we fell into conversation. The half-hour or so of that casual conversation was just a foretaste of the interest and erudition of the guided tour he gave us today.
Ellys Manor is a delightful early Tudor manor house worth a visit on those terms alone, but far more than that it is a unique survival - a fascinating gateway to the northern renaissance and a glimpse into the lives of the wealthy merchant classes of the late mediaeval period. The architecture - the stepped gable - reflects that of the houses of Flemish merchants in Calais (where the original owner traded in wool) and Bruges (pictured below)
while inside there are exstensive remains of wall paintings.
I would urge anyone to visit this jewel of a house. http://www.ellysmanorhouse.com/
On Mr. Taylor's advice we then drove the couple of miles to Boothby Pagnell to look at the manor house there. This house has long been on my list of 'to visit' places, but unfortunately seemed to be rarely - if at all - open to the public. No, apparently all one needs to do is ask to be let in. Boothby Pagnell Manor House is another remarkable survival being an intact Norman manor house.
It isn't lived in, but stands in the grounds of the current house.
I would love to go round this house with an architectural historian to help me interpret the details. I took numerous photographs from the vaulting of the undercroft, which had Joe gasping with delight, to the fireplaces (surely a later addition) and the windows.
After this we drove to Belton House where we had tea and a quick wander round the gardens. One of the joys of being National Trust members is that you can make these lightening revisits without guilt.
So although I said at the beginning that one of the sad things in life is that all too often something long planned and much anticipated proves to be an anti-climax, this day was far from anti-climactic, but an absolute joy from first to last.