Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cotehele in the sunshine

No prizes for guessing yesterday's family outing destination.

Trying to make use of the family National Trust membership while Lizzie is still under 18 we drove up to Cotehele for a nose around the house before it closes for the winter.

First things first - The Millbrooker's stomach always takes priority in these matters, so luncheon was indulged in at The Barn restaurant. I had a lovely Poacher's Roll (which is a posh sausage roll, and very scrummy) followed by pears poached in cider and honey. Mrs The Millbrooker also filled up, with a spinach tart and the same puds as me. Lizzie professed lack of hunger and slurped a spot of soup. That's my meal in the photo.

The house, of course, is a joy to wander around in the off season, there being a distinct lack of emmets crowding the place to capacity. The steward on door duties at the entrance to the house itself was very helpful indeed. Having spotted my white stick she told me I was allowed to touch stuff that normally sighted people aren't allowed to, checked a list and informed me exactly what was touchable. So I happily indulged myself in running my mitts all over some 17th century oak carved chairs.
Apparently there's something in every room that it's ok to touch if you're partially sighted , but I couldn't be arsed to ask every steward and none of the others made a pro-active offer, so I only left my fingerprints in the main hall.
A nice sub-plot is that as we viewed the dining table in the Great Hall, Mrs The Millbrooker noticed the pewter tankards on it were very similar to her own tankard at the D&C. The Cotehele tankards were made by James Yates circa 1800-1850. Mrs The Millbrooker's tankard is stamped "James Yates". The potentially valuable and certainly old tankard has now been brought home from the pub and will soon be replaced with a younger model. Early internet research shows the Millbrook Tankard to probably be 150-200 years old and possibly worth a three figure sum, so we're going to look after it a bit better now.

Lizzie has developed a frighteningly expensive taste in furniture from this visit and is, and I quote, "in love" with 17th century secretaires (especially those featuring bone and ebony marquetry work).

Because Cotehele has no artificial lighting and the rooms are often kept deliberately dark to help conserve the tapestries and other valuables I found some areas difficult to engage with, but the property as a whole more than repays the investment of a few hours' wandering and a few quid entrance fee. We're planning to return to see the famed Christmas Garland this year, flowers and cones for which are already drying out of sight in cool attics at the house, so we were told.
Lovely day out - give it a try.

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