English manor hopping

HENLEY – I’ve been reading books by English literary giants all my life. Hardy, Austen, Dickens, Shakespare, Bronte … I’ve loved them all. It’s created vivid fantasies for me about what life was like in England many years ago. There have been times when I’ve wanted to live like Elizabeth Bennett did, but modern technology and invention always make me appreciate my current life just that bit more.

But, who can resist prying into the past by visiting a few English manors? I can’t. It’s escapism and voyeurism and I quite like it. So far, I’ve visited two. I headed out to Grey’s Court and Hughenden Hall with a friend a few days ago.

Grey’s Court is not exactly the place where you’d expect to find a Mr. D’arcy type in the ballroom. It’s quite small as far as manors go. But it was sweet in it’s own way. Hughenden was better in that we got a guided tour and learnt more about its famours resident, former English Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli. But the facade was also under construction so I didn’t really bother with taking photographs. The gardens were also past their summer glory.

I’ve noticed though that with both the prices were fairly similar (around £8), there is a tea garden, and plenty of grounds to explore. But neither of them let you explore the house completely. On average you were only let into 10-15 rooms of the homes. I found that a bit disappointing because when I pay, I’m hoping to see it all, but not so. They  are very strict about limiting access. I’m sure they have their reasons.

Grey’s Court stood out for me because it had very pretty gardens and on the day we visited, the sun came out – that does make a difference. The interiors were a mix of mid-century decor and very old and vintage. It was all a bit odd. I’m not sure what to expect in manor houses really when it comes to furnitue and interiors. But a part of me was hoping for a bit more from the past and when I say past, I mean over 100 years ago, not the 1950s…

Anyway, here’s a small scoop of what I saw at Grey’s Court.

 Can you recommend any manor homes to visit in these parts?


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