Welcome to Wolf Hall…

cover

Mantel’s novel

Have you been watching the BBC’s latest historical drama? Overshadowing the King, the Queens, the costumes and corsetry, the stars of the show are undeniably the stunning filming locations. Luckily, many of these castles, courts and manor houses are open to the public – so you can get your own little piece of the action!

These venues are already increasing in popularity thanks to the series, so don’t miss out. Harvey Edgington, Head of Film and Locations at the National Trust, told The Times he expects a significant increase in the number of visitors to the houses and castles features in the series. He added: “they are all within a short distance and you could feasibly do the whole trail in a weekend.”

‘Wolf Hall’ Producer Mark Pybus was quick to praise the many National Trust properties used during filming: “the advantages of filming in a historic location are massive,” he said. “It also helps the actors, if they’re stepping into the buildings that Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell walked around in it helps bring a realness to the project.”
You too can immerse yourself in the history and heritage of these properties and soak up the atmosphere. Whether you choose to make it a romantic retreat, or explore with friends and family – there’s something to keep everyone interested.

Why not take a trip to Montacute House in Somerset?

Montacute House: Greenwich Palace in 'Wolf Hall'

Montacute House: Greenwich Palace in ‘Wolf Hall’

As well as representing Greenwich Palace in the ‘Wolf Hall’ adaptation, this Elizabethan manor has also appeared in major films such as ‘The Libertine’ and ‘Sense and Sensibility’. You’ll recognise it from the ‘Wolf Hall’ series as Henry VIII’s main London seat and the site of Anne Boleyn’s arrest.

You can literally come face to face with the past here, with more than 60 Tudor and Elizabethan portraits in the Long Gallery. The ever-changing gardens around Montacute are worth a walk in any weather.

Take a look at Barrington Court, Somerset

This Tudor house was restored by the Lyle family in the 1920s and represented York Place, the home of Cardinal Wolsey, in the BBC adaptation of ‘Wolf Hall’.

It was specially dressed for filming, but is usually free from collections and furniture – allowing you and your imagination free reign. Outside, you’ll find breathtaking gardens and working orchards.

Feel the magic of Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire

Lacock Abbey: Wolf Hall's exterior

Lacock Abbey: Wolf Hall’s exterior

Lacock Abbey is open to the public all year round and visitors of all ages are likely to be familiar with this building from TV and film. As well as representing the exterior of Wolf Hall, the Abbey has also appeared in ‘Cranford’, the ‘Harry Potter’ films and ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’.

The Abbey does not only share this television link with the king. The real Henry VIII actually sold the Abbey, following the dissolution of the monasteries, to one of his couriers who converted it into a house.

Chastleton House, Oxfordshire, is well worth a visit

Chastleton House was built between 1607 and 1612 by a wealthy wool merchant as a demonstration of his status and power. His descendants couldn’t afford to update the building and so it remains a stunning ‘time capsule’ in its original form. You may have to book in advance as tickets are ‘timed’ to restrict visitor numbers, giving you an authentic feel for the history of the place.

In ‘Wolf Hall’, Chastleton’s small stone courtyard provided the backdrop for the dramatic scenes of Cromwell’s childhood, while interiors represent Wolf Hall, the Seymour family seat and the place where Jane Seymour first catches Henry’s eye.

Great Chalfield Manor and Garden, Wiltshire

Great Chalfield Manor is a moated manor built between 1465 and 1480. Another popular filming location, it has been seen in ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’, ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ and ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’.

For ‘Wolf Hall’ its interiors stood in for Austin Friars, Thomas Cromwell’s home.

The gardens are the jewel in the Manor’s crown, with terraces, topiary houses, a gazebo, lily pond, roses and views across the spring-fed fishpond.

For history buffs with an interest in all things Henry VIII…

– Blickling Hall in Norfolk is a Jacobean house that stands on the site of a former medieval manor thought to have been the birthplace of Anne Boleyn. The manor was bought by Anne’s great-grandfather and Anne’s ghost is said to haunt Blickling on May 19th, the anniversary of her death.

– The current Nunnington Hall, in Yorkshire, evolved from Tudor beginnings. William Parr, brother of Henry VIII’s sixth and last wife Catherine Parr, inherited Nunnington Hall but his involvement in the scheme to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne led to his estates being forfeit to the Crown.

Holy Island Priory

Holy Island Priory

– If you’re heading to the Scottish Borders, Holy Island is a scenic spot to visit – but you’ll have to wait for low tide in order to drive across the access road. Henry VIII took over Lindisfarne Priory on Holy Island as part of the dissolution of the monasteries. Located close to the Scottish border south of Berwick upon Tweed, Holy Island was strategically important as a deep water harbour.

– Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire was once one of the richest religious houses in Europe. Its ruins are now the most complete Cistercian abbey remains in the country. The ruins can be viewed at a distance from ‘Anne Boleyn’s Seat’ in Studley Royal Water Garden, so named because of the headless statue which stands there facing them.

To complete your authentic historic holiday experience, why not choose one of the traditional Tudor properties in the hand-picked cottages4you collection?

Cottage of the Week – Tilbury Cottage, Somerset

Tilbury Cottage is set above the village of West Bagborough on the southern slopes of the Quantock Hills. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this area is famous for the poets Coleridge and Wordsworth who once lived and wrote here. Set within the grounds of the owner’s farm, this is an ideal holiday location for walkers, bird watchers or for some peace and quiet.

Find more info and make a booking on the property listing on cottages4you.

Top 5 Traffic Free Cycle Routes in the UK

iStock_000033057752Mediumcycling

This year promises to be a momentous year for cycling, not only can we look forward to the Tour de France starting in Britain,  but also the Commonwealth Games promises to be a memorable celebration for many of our cycling superstars. Here at cottages4you we love cycling. A quiet bridleway, the sun beating on your back with the birds and the insects playing the soundtrack, you can’t beat it. There are many great routes across Britain that you can enjoy without having to weave in and out of the traffic; here is a selection of some of our favourites.

1.       The Camel Trail, Cornwall

Arguably the most famous cycle trails in the country, the Camel Trail meanders along the southern edge of the Camel Estuary from Padstow  towards Wadebridge, and for the more adventurous, then on towards Bodmin and Wenfordbridge. The trail follows the line of a disused railway surrounded by the delightful rolling greenery of the beautiful Cornish countryside.  The Camel Estuary itself is absorbing, a huge expanse of sand that disappears daily with the return of the tide. The changing landscape adds to the magic, as the view will in all likelihood have changed dramatically by the time you return. Bicycles are available for hire so if you don’t want to worry about taking your bicycles away on holiday, you can pick out your ideal ride in Padstow and then you can travel as far as you choose along one of the most popular cycle routes in Europe.

2.       The New Forest, Hampshire

Cycling and forests go hand in hand and the sights and sounds of one of Britain’s most famous forests provides the backdrop to some fantastic cycle trails for all of the family. Explore over a 100 miles of forest trails away from the Hampshire roads, starting as short as 3 miles and going up to 21 miles there is plenty of choice to match everyone’s ability. Children will be delighted by the local wildlife, look out for ponies, deer and the unforgettable bright flash of a kingfisher!  Following the gently sloping routes through woodland and surrounding moorland, you will find a landscape is full colour throughout the year. Whether your visit coincides with the bluebells in spring or the golden tones of autumn, cycling is the best way to get to know and fall in love with the New Forest.

3.       The Strawberry Line, Somerset

This traffic free route from Yatton through to the Somerset village of Cheddar, takes its name from the cargo that was carried along this former railway line, taking fruit from the heart of Somerset to the city of Bristol. Today you will still pass the fruit in the fields but at a much more leisurely pace, passing secluded wooded valleys through tunnels and into the Mendips!  This ten mile route is idea for families and you be rewarded at journeys end by the awe inspiring Cheddar Gorge.  One of the most spectacular natural wonders in England, this is the most popular tourist attraction in Somerset.  This limestone gorge is also home to a fascinating network of caves and underground rivers, complete with stalactites and stalagmites!  A visit to Cheddar Gorge is a day out in itself

4.       Dolgellau to Barmouth, North Wales

Otherwise known as the Mawddach Trail, the ten mile riverside route from the delightful  Dolgellau to Barmouth lies at the foothills of the western flank of Snowdonia. The route itself is not encumbered by any steep inclines, but enjoys one for the most spectacular settings for any cycle pathway in the country.  Like so many of our treasured traffic free routes, this trail follows the line of a former railway on its journey beside the river Mawddach towards the estuary beyond. The views are truly breath taking; with mountains on one side and on the other side sea, it is easy to understand why this route is so highly regarded by cyclists and walkers alike. With such close proximity to the estuary remember to take your binoculars to view the multiplicity of wading birds that make this beautiful spot their temporary home, and who could blame them!

5.       Tissington Trail, Derbyshire

Open for the past 43 years, the Tissington Trail is a 13 mile route that links Ashbourne  with Parsley Hay in the Peak District National Park. It has quickly established itself as one of the premier cycle paths in the country, enjoying special views across the haunting Derbyshire landscape. Like many on our ‘favourites list’ the Tissington Trail is ideal because by in large there are no steep hills to worry about. Renowned for its moorland, the Peak District makes a lasting impression and the Tissington Trail offers visitors great views of the rolling hills and dales that draw people back year after year. To enjoy the trail at its best, perhaps plan a visit during the summer months when the hillsides are at their greenest and the butterflies provide the company along a bridleway that is suitable for cyclists of all ages.

Search for your next cycling adventure

Provincial pubs: a guide to the UK’s best

iStock_000014376723Smallpub

If you’re looking for a self-catering holiday in the UK, you’ll no doubt be looking to book somewhere that has all of the local facilities that you need. Good local food shops are crucial, and families will want to stay in a location that has plenty to keep the children occupied. For many, a great local pub is essential, providing you with a taste of local life, good drinks, great food and a welcoming atmosphere.

Great food can be found at pubs all over the UK, but if you want to try a Michelin starred menu, a pub can be a great place to do so without breaking the bank. If you’re visiting Kent, a trip to The Sportsman is a must. The Michelin-starred pub has a true focus on local ingredients, with Whitstable oysters, lamb from across the road and home churned butter all on the menu. At the time of writing, you could enjoy a main course for around £20 or a tasting menu for £65 – and without the pretentiousness of many Michelin-starred restaurants.

Alternatively, head to Somerset’s Chew Valley to The Pony & Trap in Chew Magna: a multiple award-winning country pub owned by brother and sister team Josh and Holly Eggleton. The Pony & Trap has held its Michelin star since 2011, offering everything from pub classics such as ham, egg and chips at lunch times to special six course seasonal menus for £50 a head. The views of the rolling countryside from the back garden are fantastic too.

Real ale lovers should head to the Swan With Two Necks in Pendleton, Lancashire, which was given the title of National Pub Of The Year by the Campaign for Real Ale in February 2014. The tiny pub offers draught beers such as Copper Dragon’s Golden Pippin, in addition to a range of guest ales from microbreweries that include Salamander, Dark Star and Phoenix. The Swan With Two Necks also sells local cider that is produced from apple trees owned by the pub itself.

If you want to visit the best cider pub in the UK (according to CAMRA), you’ll have to head to a railway station in Norfolk. The Railway Arms in Downham Market, Norfolk, describes itself as a “micro-pub and café”, and is located on the platform at Downham Market Station. Stocking cider from local producer Pickled Pig among others, The Railway Arms is also known for its good selection of real ales.

For a remote pub experience, try The Carpenters Arms in Walterstone, Herefordshire, under the Black Mountains’ eastern ridge. Popular with walkers and cyclists, The Carpenters Arms offers good home cooked food and a warming environment thanks to landlady Vera, who has run the pub for 35 years since taking it over from her mother.

Those wanting a truly remote pub visit (as certified by the Guinness Book of Records) should head to The Old Forge in Inverie on Scotland’s north west coast, which has the claim to fame of being the most remote pub in mainland Britain. Accessible only via a 7 mile sea crossing or an 18 mile hike (there are no roads to the pub), those who make it over there will be rewarded with a great atmosphere, honest local food, great local beers and quality live music. There is no mobile phone signal in the pub and The Old Forge switch off their WiFi at 6pm, making it a truly sociable place.

If you’re looking for something a little more quirky, then consider a trip to the Crooked House just outside Himley, near Dudley, Staffordshire. Built in 1765, it used to be a farmhouse – and its quirkiness comes from the fact that the whole building is leaning to one side. One side of the building is four feet lower than the other thanks to subsidence caused by the mining industry back in the 1800s, but structurally, it is perfectly safe. While the floors are level, the walls lean, leading to optical illusions such as glasses sliding across tables, and marbles rolling uphill.

Card players should also head to the Pack o’ Cards in Combe Martin, a seaside town in Devon. Not only was it built to look like a deck of cards, but the plot of land on which it was situated is 52 feet by 52 feet, it has four floors (one to represent each suit), 13 fireplaces and 13 doors on each floor. The reason for this? The building of the pub was funded by winnings from a card game!

From great food and drink to award-winning beers and ciders, from truly remote pub trips to some very quirky venues, the range of rural pubs in the UK is huge, offering something for everyone.