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Last weekend I was in Northamptonshire, at Knuston Hall for music-making, a journey round Renaissance Italy, visiting Florence, Milan, Naples, Verona, Rome, Ferrara, Mantua and Venice, under the expert tutorship of Peter Syrus. We were nine plus Peter. At the same time there were smaller courses happening on Russian culture, Hatha yoga, Making polymer clay jewellery, and Hand embroidery. I took no photos of the actual music-making – or anything else – but I did of the Hall and its grounds.

In our free time on the Saturday afternoon, Frances, who had already kindly driven me all the way from Somerset, suggested we visit Castle Ashby Gardens, about 20 minutes away. Sadly my camera decided to go on strike just after we had got there, so those pictures are were subject to the limitations of my tiny phone.

My huge room was the one two floors above the entrance.
The view from my room, early evening
A close up next morning
A very pleasant place to take morning coffee round the side of the house.
And the view from there

Castle Ashby is the ancestral home of the seventh Marquess of Northamptonshire.

Entrance to the Gardens was quite along way further on from this view. Having parked, we wandered towards the church, taking this photo of the Castle itself through the trees.

The church was locked when we tried the door, so we wandered around the impressive graveyard.

The vicar turned up after a few minutes and she explained that the church had been locked because it was all prepared for a wedding starting in an hour’s time, but we could explore it now.

It didn’t take long for us to notice that the small, topmost panes of the 19th century stained glass windows had images of musicians playing from the era of music we were making on the course. The organist arrived while we were there, and he said that the windows, and the delightful angel carvings at the ends of the choir stalls, had all been installed in the 1870s by an energetic vicar, the Rt Rev Lord Alwyne Compton, a matter of days before he left to be Dean of Gloucester, and later Bishop of Ely. (The stained glass windows were quite beyond reasonable reproduction by my phone, but I offer the following approximate images of a few of the carvings, mostly blurry because of insufficient light – and possibly a hand not quite as steady as it should have been.)

The singer is minus his left hand.
Frances told me that this must be a Crusader because his feet are crossed.

We moved on to the gardens.

Frances modelling the carved tree trunk seat at my request

The Orangery is at the end of the path.

View on leaving the Orangery
And looking back at it. It was not possible to climb the staircase.

What a delightful way to spend a couple of free hours on a sunny Saturday afternoon.