Thursday, 8 April 2021

The Distancing Diaries - 7th & 8th April, 2021

On Wednesday morning, I did my Wii Fit workout, we had breakfast, Jon filled the flask and made sandwiches and after swinging by the post office with our urgent order for the TV costume department we made our way to Coughton Court, the first National Trust property we'd visited since December 2020.


A Tudor country house built around 1536, the Coughton Estate was owned by the Throckmorton family from 1409. The family were practising Catholics during the period when Catholicism was persecuted by English law from the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth I. The hall holds its place in history for the Throckmorton Plot to murder the queen in 1583 and later as the place where the conspirators rode to directly following the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.  


The National Trust has owed Coughton Court since 1946 although the Throckmortons retained the 300-year lease until the last family tenant died in 2017.




We'd been expecting a bitterly cold day and had dressed accordingly although our faces were raw by the time we'd spent two hours wandering Timm's Grove (which will be a sea of bluebells in a months' time), the orchard, the bog garden and Arden Way.


The forest floor was carpeted with wild garlic.





We made a mental note to plant hellebores in Stonecroft's garden next Autumn.




On our last visit to Coughton Court back in July (here) we'd been bowled over by the gloriously overgrown bog garden. It was very different on this visit with the green shoots only just emerging from the mud but still lovely. 





There are over 2000 daffodils in Coughton Court's gardens and absolutely loads of my favourite Spring flowers, Snake's Head Fritillaries.


The sculpture in the orchard looks worrying similar to the Coronavirus.


Once we got back to the van we were pleased that we'd opted for the shorter walk rather than the seven and a half mile alternative and defrosted our nearly-numb fingers on mugs of tea. We ate our sandwiches accompanied by 6Music and made our way back to Walsall.


We'd had more than enough of the cold to contemplate any gardening so, armed with a mug of tea I left Jon removing the poor man's double glazing from the windows and cracked on with the family trees.



This is Bell's Farm in Kings Norton in Birmingham, home to the Field (also known as Fielde or Ffield) family, the head of the household being William (1605 - 1643), listed as a yeoman (a man holding and cultivating a small estate) and Jon's 8 x Great-Uncle. William was loyal to the King during the English Civil War but his son, Edward (1623 - 1686), took Cromwell's side. In 1643, Prince Rupert, Charles I's nephew, arrived in Birmingham to recapture it from the hands of Cromwell and free the city's artisans from being forced into manufacturing guns for the opposition. With his 2000 men, he almost razed the city to the ground causing Cromwell's New Model Army to flee to nearby Kings Norton. Bell's Hall was handed over to Edward and William was taken to the woods and executed. His body was never found. Bell's Farm was restored in 1988 and won The Sunday Times "Country House of the Year" award. (Source



This wasn't my only discovery. I was rendered nearly speechless as I continued my research. It turns out that my 12 x great-grandfather, Richard Edge (1512 - 1592) was the owner of Knypersley Hall in Biddulph in Staffordshire which was eventually sold to the noted horticulturalist, Richard Bateman, in 1809. He lived here until he bought the neighbouring property of Biddulph Grange in 1840 where he and his son, James, created one of the National Trust's greatest gardens. When I posted this photo on social media last year several people commented that I looked like I belonged at Biddulph....if I'd been born 450 years earlier I would have!

Knypersley Hall 

You can read about our visits to Biddulph Grange HERE and HERE



Later we had halloumi with roasted veg for tea, drank rum and watched a couple more episodes of Waking The Dead.



On Thursday, after my Wii Fit workout and breakfast, we worked on the garden as the sun was out and the temperature had crept up.  Inspired by the carpet of garlic in the woods at Coughton Court I transplanted some of the wild garlic from further down the garden to the area by the pond. Jon moved our old curry plant that was looking a bit tatty over to another - less visible - bed and replaced it with the sedums. He lifted our wild geraniums and split them up, planting them in the beds by the pond. 


Meanwhile, I managed to squeeze five bags of uprooted bamboo into the garden waste bin before watering the garden and topping up the birdbath - which was instantly appreciated by Mr Blackbird.
 

After noodles, Jon drove over to the mechanic as Gilbert needed a bit of a tweak. I'd woken up earlier with the idea of a dedicated herb bed in my head (as opposed to pots and plants here, there and everywhere) so while he was out I moved one of the raised beds further down the garden and lined it with cardboard from Jon's stash. He was only gone for an hour so after a coffee we drove up to the garden centre, bought some compost (currently on special offer) and a few pots of herbs.....and some bargains trays of tulips and another half price pot managed to find its way into our trolley as well.


Back at home, Jon filled the new bed with compost while I planted my tulips. Once he'd finished I planted my new herbs along with some I already had, edging them with broken terracotta pots to add some interest.


 It's been a strange old day, I've lost count of the number of times I've taken my hat and jacket off only to be dithering with cold.

Wearing: Vintage block printed jacket (charity shop), 1970s Interlinks Indian cotton midi dress(eBay), Biba boots (Mum's), me-made pom pom hat.
 

Tea was half a pizza, salad and potato fairies and because someone always asks, they're a Black Country favourite, fried potato slices (although Jon does ours in the oven). Tonight we'll be watching more Waking The Dead and anticipating a trip to Wilko in the morning. 

Stay safe & see you soon! 


47 comments:

  1. The National Trust gardens look lovely, I think we shall book to go to a couple a bit further afield from us, over the next few weeks. I love Hellebores and was lucky to inherit a couple in the garden as when I looked in the garden centre they are expensive. The herb bed looks good - I gave up having herbs in pots they never seemed to look good for long. Enjoy Wilko tomorrow - I'm sure you will come home with some garden stuff!

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    1. We're really lucky to have so many national trust properties within an hour of home. I can't wait to revist all of them over the coming months. xxx

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  2. I always have thought that you look at home at the various grand Country Homes you visit Vix and now I see why-its in your genes from your ancestors x

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  3. Ps-I've got a few hellebores and occasionally have bought them at a summer fete or church stall much cheaper or allotment open day x

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    1. That's a great idea. I might have a look on Facebook a bit later in the year and see if anyone local is selling some, that's how I got my rhubarb! xxx

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  4. What a lovely trip - thank you so much for sharing it with us, Vix! Your photos are awesome, as always. I like seeing gardens at different points in the seasons, and can imagine the fields of bluebells (I saw a field of grape hyacinth today). Your family history is so interesting!

    The lads look grumpy with each other! Your herb garden is cool - I like the addition of the crockery bits. Amazing shot of the blackbird in action!

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    1. I love going back an seeing the changes in the landscape throughout the seasons. Grape hyacinths are gorgeous, a real sign of spring.
      The lads are really naughty at the moment, I had to tell Frank off for slapping Kitty yesterday! xxx

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  5. I'm glad you can go on your trust visits again and we get to come along. What an interesting discovery in your family tree. I guess we won't really know what or who is in out past unless we take the time to look.

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    1. I'm amazed at how far back and by how quickly I managed to research both our trees. The next step is to visit some of the places and maybe find graves! xxx

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  6. Love the broken pots trim. I'll be stealing that idea

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  7. The National Trust gardens are gorgeous! Thank you for taking us along. You really do look like you belong at Biddulph. I love hearing about your family history discoveries. Your garden is really coming along beautifully! Great critter shots too. :)

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  8. Nice re-purposing of broken pots.
    This time of year can't decide on winter or spring. Makes getting dressed a challenge.

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    1. I knew there was a reason why I never threw those broken bits of pot away! x

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  9. Beautiful trip and many interesting things that you will find.

    How rich was your great-grandfather Richard Edge (1512 - 1592) was the owner of Knypersley Hall in Biddulph in Staffordshire.

    Have a suoer week!.

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  10. How exciting to find your connection to the Biddulph Estate, a very unusual claim to fame and will now make that place very special for future visits! I would feel compelled to secretly conceal something like my own hair in the grounds .... weird?! Wonder if they have resident ghosts. Congratulations on getting back through your research so incredibly far too - think you could work for Heirhunters and it would be a doddle! Curious to know what the TV costume dept bought - my guess is it's for Dr Who and the tardis is going back to the 70s, yay! A herb garden is a great idea.

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    1. I can't believe the connections I'm finding, so many coincidences. I rather like the idea of leaving a bit of me behind at Biddulph! xxx

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  11. I love how far you have gotten with your research keep it up!! that garden looked amazing as if it was slowly waking up. I am trying to order some English bulbs I wonder if I will get them. It’s starting to warm up here nicely so I can start getting outside now. Without my hands freezing to death!!
    I have some herb seeds so I might just pot those this weekend and see what happens. I wonder who bought your waistcoat some 70s crime drama that would be cool.
    It’s a 90s trend over here at the moment and I am enjoying it ! Takes me back to college and childbirth!! lol. Take care and keep safe

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    1. You're right, it was like that lovely garden was slowly waking it, I can't wait to see it in all it's glory later in the year!
      I did quite well with herb seeds last year although it took a few goes to get a decent basil plant!
      Loads of love! xxx

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  12. So lovely post, it's delightful to join you in your revisit to Throckmorton and remember its glorious summery purpleness! (and your matchy outfit!). Looking fabulous in your red maxi, afghan coat and cute hat, sorry that the weather was so cold!
    Love these timber frame houses and love that you found so much information about your ancestors, so interesting to see the real places where they lived. I still have a weakness for historic details, as I had a degree in History (too many years ago!). Really lovely that you even visited a house where your ancestors lived!
    And so great idea to créate a herb garden, I love them!
    besos

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    1. It was lovely that you were able to join us for our ramble around the Throckmorton's manor!
      We definitely need to go on a drive and have a look at Jon's ancestor's timbered house. I can't beleive it's still standing! xxx

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  13. Wow! Both you and Jon are related to the upper classes way back. How interesting was the story of William Field and that of Richard Edge. Family history is just fascinating. I did one of my teaching practices in King's Norton in 1984 - 1985.
    It's great you were able to get to Coughton Court; I think it's lovely to be able to see the grounds and gardens at different times of the year. I bought hellebores this year but those purple ones were rather lovely, too. I also love fritillaries, and tried unsuccessfully to get some for this year and it's probably too late now. They are very tropical looking, I think.

    Your new herb planter is a fab idea and I love how you've added the broken terracotta pot pieces for interest. I wonder if they will contain the plant within or whether the plant will still spread?

    I really emphasised with you in the freezing cold outdoors; it's been horribly cold here, too, and not conducive to outdoor work.

    Fab outfits as always!
    xxx

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    1. How interesting that you did your teaching practice in Kings Norton. It's been years since I went there but I remember it being very posh and leafy. Jon's amazed at what I'm digging up about his family, he never expected anyone wealthy or posh!
      I've left the mint in a pot as it's inclined to take over but I'm hoping the others will just spread a little over the broken pots.
      I can't beleive I've been gardening in the snow today, I must be mad! xxx

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  14. What an interesting week you two have had. Brilliant.
    Finding out about your ancestors can be such an eye opener. My great grandma fell pregnant with the young master of the house when she worked there as a maid. He was banished from the house and they went on to marry. Not got much further than that yet.
    It’s nice to see you out and about on your National Trust visits again. They are always such stunning buildings and gardens aren’t they.
    I’m out and about house hunting for my sister, she wants to come home but there’s so much to take in to consideration we may just have to go with the flow. Can’t wait to see her at the end of May.
    Lots of stuff going on in our garden. I’ll have to blog about it.
    Have a good weekend you two xxx

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    1. I love that your great-grandma married the young master of the house, it must have been love rather than the posh bloke taking advantage of the staff! I'm amazed at how far I've gone back on both Jon and I's sides in little over a week. It's amazing how much information is out there.
      How lovely that your sister is thinking of moving back up north. This last year really has led to some epic life-changing decisions. I'd love to go house-hunting for someone else - preferably in a Greek village but that won't be happening for a long while yet!
      I'm looking forward to reading about the changes you two are making! xxx

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  15. Happy Friday evening dear lady! so sorry but my trips to blog land have been erractic at best. I have just read your adventures over the last few posts. Wow visits with friends, family tree research(so interesting) NT visits more fab ebay finds and a new herb garden to boot and more!! Vix I would be on here forever but a couple of things caught my eye the photo of you at Buddulph grange caught my eye before I read on I thought Vix belongs there. the herb garden is great. One of the first things I did in this ol garden was find an old abndoned tin bath down the back haul it up for herbs. I love your blog and sometimes I wish "real life" did not get in the way of me visiting. I am not even going to bore you with this end ha ha. hugs and cheers for a great readxx Shaz

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    1. It's always lovely to hear from you, Shaz, no matter how sporadic. Life gets in the way1 I'd love an old tin bath as a planter.
      Who knows maybe we will get to meet by the time this year is over. In the absense of festivals we really want to see a bit more of this country and perhaps visit some of our ancestor's towns. xxx

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  16. Your National Trust outing makes my heart ache with longing, but for now I'm happy to tag along with you two on this first of undoubtedly many outings in the common months. Coughton Court looks wonderful in its Springtime freshness, especially as there seems to be no shortage of Spring bulbs. Yes, you should definitely plant Hellebores next Autumn. They're delightful and there are so many varieties. We have those dark ones and spotted cream ones too, they both flowered in their first year, although not as abundantly as I'd hoped.
    What exciting discoveries you've made on the history of both yours and Jon's families, and what are the odds of having ancestors who lived at Biddulph Grange! No wonder you looked so at home in its gardens, and who knows, they might even be where you got your green fingers from! Love your raised herb bed, by the way. What an imaginative use of broken terracotta pots. Last year, I used some of the larger pieces to provide shade to the roots of our newly planted Clematis. xxx

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    1. I was hoping atht we'd be visiting national Trust gardens with you and Jos this summer but it might be 2022 at this rate, until then we'll have to do it virtually!
      I thought of you when I saw those hellebores as I'd remembered you buying them from your garden centre and not being very sure what they were. xxx

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  17. yes!! You do look you belong in Biddulph!! The photo of you in the giant chair - that and all of the photos before and after at that Court - very, very fey. Love it!!

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  18. How uncanny regarding Biddulph! I like the way Jon's getting into character in the wanted sign. You look like a really cute pixie standing on that over-sized throne. I can spot a rather lovely flowering, red quince too. Blackbirds really are they best at taking baths; they do it with such gusto. Such a great use of the broken terracotta. Enjoy your trip to Wilkos. Lulu xXx

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    1. Red quince! I'm so glad you told me that, it's gone on the ever-growing wish list! xxx

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  19. this are ancestors to dream of!! stunning!
    your garden tour indeed looks totally different - but i recognized the huge metal planting pot. such impressive garden deco. the red outfit is gorgeous and cosy too.......
    well done with the herb bed - its so practical to have it all together if you pop out of the kitchen for some tasty greens. and the terracotta shards add a nice touch.
    grat shot of mister blackbird taking a bath!!
    xxxx

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    1. I absolutely loved that huge metal pot. Last time it was planted out with agapanthus and I stood for ages sighing over how lovely it looked. xxx

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  20. Isn't it freezing. I got completely drenched on a walk with a friend today. I only noticed how wet and cold I was when I got back in the car. Very different to last spring! You are cracking on with your garden and you're way ahead of me.
    Genealogy is fascinating isn't it. My sister did a DNA test and found out we're around 60% French and the next biggest % was Scandinavian. It was a revelation. I had been told we had both in our past but it's way more than we thought. I loved that yeoman's house and imagine you 450 years ago in that great hall!!
    Hope you're having a great Saturday. xxx

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    1. It didn't feel too cold yesterday so I was amazed when it started to snow just as we'd finished in the garden. I think those two glorious days have spoilt us!
      What exciting DNA. Every time I check mine it seems to have changed, I'm a tiny bit Norwegian now! xxx

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  21. It must have quite a surprise to learn that your 12 x great-grandfather was the owner of Knypersley Hall. Imagine visiting places with National Trust and not knowing that it used to belong to your ancestors. Life is full of surprises....as you say, people said that you looked right at home in Biddulph and they didn't know how right they were. I never really explored my family history in detail but I might some day. I have family all around the world, from Chile to New Zealand. It would be nice to be able to track them down.

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    1. I've uncovered so mnay amazing and interesting things in less than a week, genealogy really is fascinating! x

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  22. It's interesting to see the National Trust properties at different times of the year. No wonder you looked so at home in Biddulph - there's an ancestoral line connecting you to the place.

    I've never seen Snake's Head Fritillaries before - love the snakeskin pattern!

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    1. Snake's Head Fritillaries are native here but they look so exotic, don't they? x

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  23. You DO belong in such esteemed surroundings! Mind you, Stonecroft is just as beautiful!
    How lovely to be able to visit the National Trust properties though. I look forward to resuming our EH activities also!
    I like the new herb bed very much- it looks gorgeous! Bravo to you. Do you have mint in there...beware if so!
    Phwoar, all that Wild Garlic! Yum! I can't get enough of that stuff!x

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    1. I was expecting centuries of coalminers and grim back-to-backs in Midlands industrial towns so was delighted to unearth some grand ancestors!
      I've kept the mint in a pot just to make sure it doesn't take over! xxx

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  24. I love how you put the terracotta around the plants. Such a good visual idea!

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Thank you for leaving a comment. If you have a blog I'll pop over and return the favour.

Lots of love, Vix