Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Llanarchaeron - a gentry estate

Llanarchaeron is now owned by the National Trust. My husband and I visited it on Sunday as they had dressed the house for Christmas, and there was a Crafts Fair and Farmer's Market.



There had been a hard frost overnight again, and after doing the grocery shopping we drove up towards Aberaeron along the main road via Lampeter, rather than going our usual back roads short-cut way.

By the time we got there, the car park was packed, but we managed to get a space. I was very disappointed to discover that the very thing I wanted to photograph MOST (e.g. the "Christmassing" of the house) was forbidden, so you will just have to rely on my descriptions. All the voluntary staff were dressed in Victorian costume. The contents of the dining room table is best described as a page from Mrs Beeton. There were bowls of tangerines and nuts and sugared almonds; a massive (cardboard!) iced Christmas cake; a huge bowl of fruit; and of course silver candlesticks and gleaming silver cutlery and the best plates and napkins neatly folded.



In the hallway there was a splendid tree and someone had done a wonderful job of tearing sheets of cotton wool carefully to lay on the branches and represent snow - must try that. It was carefully guarded by a really authentic-looking butler too, whose florid face looked as if he had the key to the wine cellar . . .

In the kitchens they had the most wonderful cream Aga (once the Only colour). It was a double sized one and the room was SO warm. A scrubbed kitchen table was laid out with a cornucopia of winter vegetables - leeks, onions, potatoes, carrots, cabbages, swede etc. I recall seeing a wonderfully-restored range too in another room. OH and I would love one, but our Hergom (black enamelled cast iron with brass rails and fittings) is a passible replacement.


Someone was playing Christmas carols on a piano when we went back to take this photo of the house. It sounded so right, and made me long for a Christmas where entertainments were all from the home and not the television . . .

Because of the craft fair, the usual displays had been squirrelled away. This is a cream seperator from the Dairy. I actually have the business part (made by a company in Haverfordwest, as this one was too), and I am now nagging my husband to make me the base. It would dress the bottom kitchen, with its enormous inglenook, perfectly . . .

In the photograph below, you can see the cheese press - you would have built up some good muscles moving these stone-weighted presses up and down . . .


In the wonderful courtyard at the back of the house, rooms which originally house the Dairy, the Bakery, the Laundry, the Brewery, the cold room for hanging Game etc, housed the poor Crafts people selling their wares, and huddled, shivering in corners. I felt sorry for them and hope they sold lots. There were more stalls in small tents beyond the yard, but they had problems with condensation and the lady with the hand-made soap had to move out as her stock was being ruined, and the man with the turned wood items wasn't best pleased either. My husband fell in love with a beautiful turned yew-wood box (he has a thing about yew) and I bought it for him from our offspring as a joint Christmas present. I also spoke to Jane ??? who had some marvellous hand-made baskets and picked up a leaflet about two courses she is holding at the end of January and I hope to go to the two day one and carry on with my basket-making skills, as I really enjoyed the course I did at Lluest last year. In one of the (lovely) Victorian stables, someone had seen fit to allocate a loose box to several rocking horses which were for sale! I wish I'd taken a photograph . . . I was fascinated by the hay rack which was built against a circular scoop in the wall, rather than just being put against a flat wall, which was the norm.






I couldn't resist this photograph as someone on Creative Living forum was hankering for a basketwork shopping trolley recently.


The Farmer's Market was excellent, and we both had roast lamb rolls for lunch, which certainly hit the spot, and then a wander around the walled gardens, marvelling at the beautifully-pruned and maintained old fruit trees.

The gardener's loft-cottage (one assumes!) which was above the stables.

There were fan-trained cherries all along one stretch of the walled garden.

One of the rows of wonderfully-managed fruit trees.


Between the borders of fruit trees were vegetable plots.

More fan-trained fruit trees and herb beds.

I wish my apple trees were pruned like this - so much easier to pick! The varieties were old apple species, eaters and cookers, designed to supply the house with fruit from autumn to late winter.

6 comments:

Rowan said...

Looks a wonderful place,I wish my apple trees looked like that too! I agree with you about homemade entertainment at Christmas, we've never allowed television on Christmas Day but we play board games instead, much more fun. I'm lucky enough to remember Christmases at my gran's when all my aunts, uncles and cousins gathered and my Uncle John played the accordian and we all sang carols and songs like Tipperary and A Bicycle Built For Two. It was never the same after my gran got a TV when I was about 10.

thelma said...

Lovely description Jennie. Notice you mention Aberaeron, years ago when I was young, we used to go to Wales for the weekend, as a child I was sent to a farm near Pumpsaint for holidays, and always remember the bulls staked out in the field near Lampeter there. An old friend came from the town, though she now lives in America, and my half-brother kept a boat at Aberaeron..
Thelma - getting nostalgic for Wales ;)

Bovey Belle said...

Thelma - when I first visited Wales in 1972, I noticed bulls tethered on what is now the Showground. They were kept like that to be used for A.I. apparently. Aber is still a lovely place (in summer!) and Pumpsaint probably hasn't changed at all.

Rowan - I am about to cause mayhem by suggesting the tv be turned off on Christmas Day (but back on for Boxing Day as I want to watch the jumps races!), and a return to board games, jigsaws (am going to get a nice one to do) and SINGING. I love singing. OH will be v. peeved as he hates Christmas to start with and tries to ignore it . . .

Goosey said...

Those fruit trees are great, i wish I had the patience to train some like that. What a shame you couldn't take any indoor pictures but your description was so good I can almost see it!
I too look back with fondness to Christmas's as a child and wish I could recreate them but time moves on and the youngsters have other plans!

Mam said...

Hi Jennie. This is a marvellous post. what a great trip. It is terrible you couldn't photograph the Christmas decorating. I would love to have seen that! I've never seen fruit trees pruned like that. I can certainly see how much easier picking would be.
Nancy

dowhatyoulove said...

What a beautiful and interesting place. Thanks for sharing the photos and the description.