Thursday, September 16, 2010

Upton House

National Trust properties are such a delight! The trust preserves historical houses and gardens that not only are a joy to visit and explore but also give the kids invaluable history and art lessons (sometimes even botany). Lots of them are close by and make for a nice weekend outing.

Our last NT visit was to Upton House, the former country house of Shell oil millionaire Lord Bearstead, son of the founder of the Shell company, whose first business was selling painted seashells and who made his fortune importing and exporting oil.

The house has a considerable art collection, including works by El Greco, Bosch, Hogarth, Canaletto, Fouquet, Gainsborough, Tintoretto, Joshua Reynolds and Bruegel. I particularly liked spotting a painting by an anonymous Spanish artist depicting Saint Elizabeth of Portugal, a 13th century queen who is believed by Catholics to have turned bread into roses to escape the wrath of her husband, D. Dinis, who had forbidden her to help the poor.

The National Trust does an amazing job of presenting the house and welcoming visitors. The intention is to whisk you back in time to a typical weekend day in 1929, and indeed that's what you feel. There were even cooks in the humongous kitchen baking bread and scones and letting guests have a taste (with homemade jam and/or homemade butter)!

Stunning gardens were the cherry on top of the whole experience, especially for the kids, who always appreciate a good chance to run around.

Well worth the visit.

Upton House - NT

Upton House Fields

Lebanon Cedars

Upton House Fields

Upton House Lake

Upton House - Garden

Upton House flower bed

Upton House flower bed

Upton House flower bed


Ruth said...

Those are truly beautiful grounds. Imagine having a staff who keeps your place looking like that. The humongous kitchen beckons me, I want to go there now and be served up a big breakfast.

I love the movie "Gosford Park."

Claudia said...

I feel so sorry for those poor rich folks... not! I love that movie, too.