Two Cornwall gems, Stonehenge, and a cool little castle

April 28, 2014 § 2 Comments

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There is far too much to see and do in Cornwall to even scratch the surface in a week, but you have to start somewhere, right? And one thing was clear: we had promised the boys castles, and there would be trouble if we didn’t deliver. So we sort of stretched the truth and told them that Lanhydrock House, a beautiful estate that was built beginning in the early seventeenth century and continuing to Victorian times (when it was updated with all the “mod cons”), fit the bill. And it worked! To our amazement, they both loved touring the house, from the “below stairs” where the servants worked to the upstairs with its tiger-skin rugs, children’s rooms, and bedpans (!). (Lest we sound like complete frauds, we did visit a real castle too—see below.) OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The original gatehouse, dating from the mid-1600s, looks rather castle-like.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAimage

The kitchen, where “vast quantities of butter and cream” were put to work.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Back upstairs.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAimageimage

Lord Robartes’s private bathroom.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What is this funny contraption?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While some things were of course off-limits, the house had a fun, not-too-precious quality about it as well. The kids were free to sit down in the old classroom, and there were reproduction toys they could play with. In another room, there were costumes you could try on. The volunteers were also helpful and enthusiastic to share their knowledge of the house.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

See, they loved it! (No, really they did.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I need a closet like this.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our only rainy day in Cornwall we headed down the peninsula to St. Ives to visit the studio and museum of Leach Pottery, established in 1920 by Bernard Leach and Japanese potter Hamada Shoji. Leach was born in Hong Kong in 1887, and spent the early years of his life in Asia, moving to Kyoto, back to Hong Kong, and then to Singapore, before finally moving to England at the age of ten. Leach was always interested in the exchange of ideas between East and West, and he was also an advocate of the “ethical pot” movement, which favored plain, functional forms over the more ornate. (His wife, Janet Leach, originally from Texas, was also a highly influential potter.)

The museum was really just a walk through the rooms where Leach’s clay mixers, turning wheels, and tools have been left as he used them. There was a serene, muted quality to the natural light that filtered into these spaces. A grainy black-and-white film featured Leach throwing various pots and talking about his philosophy of pottery. It was lovely to really get a sense of his approach and even the space where he worked, and I really appreciate small museums were you find yourself wandering freely and alone among interesting things. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAimageOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Did I mention we also went to Stonehenge?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But back to that castle. Nunney Castle, a charming, crumbling number located in Nunney, in the county of Somerset, is billed as England’s smallest castle. Anyone is free to walk in “at any reasonable hour” and pretend to be a fourteenth-century knight. If you happen to have procured a couple of swords on your recent travels, all the better. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAphoto 2-4

The castle is smack in the middle of the village, so it’s a challenge to get a good perspective. Apparently this is one of the few castles in England to still have a moat around it. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The entire footprint of the castle is not much bigger than what you see here. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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