2018 Centre Holiday  - Derbyshire Peak District

                                        Monday 14th. May to Friday 18th. MAY 2018  


This holiday has taken place now, and has been a great sucess. Here is a report of the holiday.


Weren't we lucky! We had five days of fine weather with NO RAIN. David and Adris Cooke led 42 local National Trusters on a splendid tour of properties in the Peak District National Park area. Each day's journey took us through interesting countryside, much of it stunning.

Our first visit was to Calke Abbey, which was built in 1704 for Sir John Harpur on the site of a former priory. The family name changed over the years to Crewe, Harpur-Crewe and Mosley. During the early years the family were great collectors and one can still see many, many cases of stones, shells, stuffed birds and animals, books and even buttons. Hilda Mosley and her husband sold about half the collection in 1924 in order to retrench somewhat, but in vain. Crippling death duties forced Henry Harpur-Crewe to negotiate with anybody and everybody until the Budget of 1984, when £45 million was provided to save the house and park. The house is very faded and a bit rundown, nevertheless it and the gardens should not be missed.

Tuesday morning saw us at Eyam (pronounced eem).  It is beautifully situated and well looked after by the villagers, who are justly proud of their forebears whose bravery and fortitude in the plague of 1665/6 put them on the map. The plague arrived in a bale of cloth for the tailor; it came from London where the plague was rife. To save the surrounding countryside from the plague the villagers isolated themselves for some months during which time 260 of them had died. Food etc. was placed for them on the boundary stone and money for the goods was placed in vinegar, in holes in the stone. Church services and other meetings were held outside where the villagers could spread to avoid contact with each other. The plague did not spread out of Eyam.

After lunch we made for Haddon Hall, a place to go back to again and again, as Adris and David have done. This fortified house was begun in the 12th century and building continued until the 17th century. Then the property was not improved for 200 years, when the 9th Duke and Duchess of Rutland restored the house and gardens. The house is now lived in by the 2nd son Lord Edward Manners. How we exclaimed over the frescoes, tapestries, panelling, beautiful gardens and so much more. The guides were so knowledgeable and helpful and we would have liked longer to enjoy it as we would have in several places.

Wednesday was our coolest day and found us firstly in the market town of Bakewell, where some of us shopped, some walked by the river Wye and nearly all of us visited the Original Bakewell Pudding shop and caf
é before going on to Chatsworth. On the way David explained that we would notice a distinctive blue colour on all the buildings belonging to the Chatsworth estate.  The exact colour became very debateable so some of us dubbed it "Chatsworth blue". Chatsworth was refurbished extensively during the time of "Duke Andrew" and his wife Deborah, nee Mitford. The younger generation continue to spruce up their home and the gold on the façade, facing the great fountain positively glowed. In the house the guides were most helpful, particularly to Lorna with her walker.

A very different property was the Harley Gallery, a gallery opened in1994 to display pictures and artefacts from Welbeck Abbey. It was built on the ruins of the 5th Duke Of Portland's Victorian gasworks and exhibitions change 5 times a year. Some of the Portland collection is in the V & A. The part of the gallery that was designed by Hugh Broughton and opened in 2016, contains some of the Portland collection of fine and decorative arts, which were amassed over the centuries by the Dukes of Portland and their families. What we saw was in superb condition; it includes the pearl earring worn by Charles I on the scaffold. Also in the building was a selling exhibition of modern arts and crafts.

Later found us at Kedleston Hall, which David admitted to be his favourite. It was built by Robert Adam for Sir Nathaniel Curzon in the 1760s.  This is a spectacular Neo-classical building using carrera marble and other items collected by Curzon in 1757. The family entertained greatly and were unashamed social climbers. They reached their peak when Sir George Nathaniel Curzon was made the youngest viceroy of India (1899-1905) and created Lord Curzon of Kedleston. The family continue to live at the hall, which is set in 820 acres of exceptional parkland, though the N.T. has taken over much of it.

On our way home on Friday we called at Renishaw Hall, built for George Sitwell in 1625 using money from his business as an ironmaster.  It was the most homely property we saw on this holiday. Sir George Sitwell became the youngest baronet when he inherited age 2. He became MP for Scarborough but married disastrously. His wife, Ida, was a gambler who got into debt to the tune of £30,000. Sir George refused to pay and Ida was sent to Holloway prison. This spoiled their social standing, as you can imagine, but Ida had produced the 3 well known children, Edith (b.1887), Osbert (b.1892) and Sacheverell (b.1897). Osbert, who was in the trenches during WWI, was a great collector and also a very hospitable man. He invited such luminaries as Evelyn Waugh and John Piper to stay and work, for extended periods, at Renishaw. In declining health Sir Osbert gave up running the house in 1965 and handed it over to his nephew, Reresby and his wife, who started renovations and made Renishaw a by-word for hospitality. Only Sacheverell had children and it is his granddaughter, Alexandra Hayward and her husband who continue to make improvements today.

We continued our journey home with heartfelt thanks to David and Adris, to Jenny and Janet for making sure we were all present and correct and to Trevor our driver, who will be retiring in August.

WAO 22.5.2018

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