One of our members recently visited the National Trust property near Cambridge called Wimpole Hall, and he has shared with us his experience….
The National Trust – Wimpole Hall ← click here to go to the NT website
As we walk around National Trust properties we are aware that they are one of the major activities of retired people. You can pay on a daily basis but, although at £66.37 p.a. for a couple it can seem expensive, for people who have the time to visit the 300+ NT locations it could be viewed as a bargain. In addition, one gets the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping to preserve and enhance some of the finest buildings, gardens and rural locations in Britain.
The National Trust is well known for the many historical buildings that it has taken over. Otherwise owners, whose families may have lived there for generations but who are unable to afford the upkeep, would often have sold off the houses and land or just let them become dilapidated. But it is also active in preserving rights of way, such as woodlands and coastal paths which would otherwise be debarred from the general public. They actually own a fifth of the Welsh coastline. Visit the NT website here to see all that they aim to protect.
Our recent visit to the Wimpole Estate, near Cambridge, was delightful. There was even a free Garmin Sat- Nav treasure hunt in operation for children and we were able take a guided tour of the house, which until 1976 was owned by the daughter of Rudyard Kipling, Mrs Bambridge who, with her husband, George, used some of the wealth from her famous father to restore the house and collect beautiful furniture and other objet d’art from around the world.
We visited the Hall many years ago for our daughter’s wedding. Since 1976 the National Trust has worked to restore the parterre style formal gardens to something like they were in its heyday (1707).
Previously we have walked to the gothic folly seen in the distance in this picture. This time we just visited the walled garden, although there is much more to Wimpole as it has a working farm with lots of animals for kids to see. There is even an invitation to join “My Farm”. A leaflet asked for “10,000 farmers, no experience necessary” at www.my-farm.org.uk. Richard Morris, farm manager, is asking you to help with decisions regarding crops and livestock with online discussions. Blogs, webchats and webcams will bring the farm to life from ploughing to harvesting, lambing and calving.
The inside of the Hall is well worth a visit, with guided tours and a touch screen panoramic view of all the rooms. One fascinating feature was a gas lit chandelier (a gasolier) high up in one of the rooms. The gas was generated from wood in a nearby shed and pumped into the building, where the chandelier was lit by a chemical reaction.
We took a picnic but there is also a restaurant. It is a great day out for adults or children alike.
Other National Trust places in the area to visit:
Anglesey Abbey, http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/anglesey-abbey/
Ickworth House http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ickworth/
Long Melford http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/melford-hall/
Oxburgh Hall http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/oxburgh-hall/
Written & photographed by Keith Paterson
Do you have a favorite National Trust property to recommend?