Tuesday, April 12, 2011
When Home is... a Gatehouse, a Palace... no actually a Water Tower
How is it already April, the end of first term, the start of Autumn and the first quarter of the year already gone? And how is it that we will be heading off to the other side of the world before the year is out without having had any thoughts of booking flights or accommodation?
For all these reasons, the last couple of weeks have seen me think very little of ‘home’ here in Sydney and panic about a temporary home in the UK in many months time.
Oh yes; with me it’s always about the accommodation. And knowing me as well as a certain English friend does, it’s not too surprising that she sent me the link to The Landmark Trust website...
We’re in London – rain hail or shine – for a special friend’s wedding. Not the royal wedding, obviously (although her father did tell me recently that my friend is a descendent of King Edward I) and while accommodation is sorted for that weekend, we aren’t flying all that way for two days. So where to stay for a couple of weeks either side?
Well, thanks to the Landmark Trust, I can see a few options.
Wolveton Gatehouse caught my eye first: built during the reign of King Henry VIII. Thomas Hardy came to tea here in 1900 and the towers were thought to have been built during the fourteenth century. The fourteenth century! The Jacobean fireplaces still work; actually they still may be the greatest source of heat with the website suggesting to light the fires and wear an extra layer as the ‘Dorset nobility would have done hundreds of years ago’.
But wait! Where else in the world can you say you stayed in a water tower? After future King Edward VII fell ill with Typhoid in 1871 and his son with the same illness three years later at Sandringham, an investigation into the water supply was ordered. It seemed the castle was built upon numerous cesspools and new waterworks needed to be designed. Part of this design needed to include a service reservoir: this is the 32,000-gallon cast-iron tank that tops the Appleton Water Tower.
The engineer responsible for the design realised the tower would command superb views and the second floor room was made for the royal family and their guests ‘when shooting parties or picnickers required a base during the day’.
Today not only this room, but the whole tower is available for a family of four – and I think Louis could squeeze into a bed with either Lily or Ned too.
But if we really want to feel what it was like to be royalty, why not stay in a palace? Why not, indeed, when Hampton Court Palace offers a two bedroom apartment for rent?
Well to be truthful, it wasn’t ever an apartment that King Henry VIII visited. It was actually built for the Officers of the Pastry and lies in the service wing of the Tudor palace.
It was enlarged, though, by Henry VIII who enjoyed entertaining lavishly and even had extra kitchens built, one solely for the baking of pies.
Imagine, a kitchen just for pies... I think I’m leaning towards a few nights here.
Suddenly I don’t mind the year running away from me.
All pictures © The Landmark Trust website