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I’m not complaining, but there is just one problem in having to book a time in advance to visit a National Trust garden (because of totally reasonable social distancing precautions). It is that you can’t decide to go spontaneously, depending on the weather. But I was lucky last Friday. I had not been able to get a ticket for Barrington Court in the morning, when I had originally wanted to go, and the only spot available was mid-afternoon.

In the event it poured with rain in the morning, was dry, if pretty overcast, in the afternoon, and started raining as I drove home. As I say I was very lucky. Moreover, as a member of the National Trust, I would not have suffered if I had decided not to go, as my visit was free of charge. I wonder if they refund paying non-members who on the day choose not to go because of really bad weather?

There are two main buildings at Barrington Court, a sixteenth-century house, built to a characteristic Elizabethan E-plan, and, immediately beside it, a seventeenth-century former stable and coach block, in red brick, now Strode House, which normally includes, among other things, the restaurant. The gardens still show much of the influence of Gertrude Jekyll, in Arts and Crafts style. There are in addition various 1920s outbuildings.

From the car park. Reception is closed, but two ladies check your ticket, explain that there is a one-way system, and remove the barrier.
On the way to the kitchen garden
Moreover, with no restaurant functioning at present, there is no outlet for the crops.
There is no explanation of who this is, nor of the owner of the head he has (presumably) just removed.
Hopefully the restaurant will be open again, and able to use these pears before long.
These buildings in normal times are used by craftsmen and women to display and sell their wares, and to run workshops.
Two-way system along this avenue. The house lies outside the plan of the visitable part of the estate.
Swinging right, to go over the moat, and approach the back of the magnificent Tudor house.
Strode House to the right
This is just the ‘dreary’ back of the house.
Before going round to the front, I am tempted by this gateway to go into some parkland.
This gateway leads me back into the formal area of lawn in front of the houses.
I dutifully follow the mapped one-way system, and walk round the lawn before approaching first…
… Strode House,
then the west wing,
and then the (south) front door, through which one would normally be able to pass. But never mind the 500-year-old house. The thought that the fabulous Mark Rylance was passing through this door just a little more than five years ago (for the filming of Wolf Hall) was enough to give me the shivers.
Gables, finials, twisted chimneys and mullioned windows.

After this I had to retrace my steps along the broad avenue. At this point I had an unfortunate encounter with a silly woman and her jumping up dog. ‘Don’t worry, he won’t hurt you, he’s very friendly.’ Never mind that he was indeed jumping up at me, obliging her to come close to me, that she still didn’t manage to control him and the only way he would remove himself (his name was Watson) from me was to point hard at his owner, who had by now withdrawn herself from my immediate space when I protested, and shout ‘GO AWAY!’ What is it about such owners who think it’s OK for their dogs to jump up, that you shouldn’t mind having your clothes mauled, and that you should love the antics of their dogs as much as they do?

I was quite discombobulated by all this and had to take myself in hand as I made my way to the formal gardens.

Until 1920 this area was a cow yard, and these were calf sheds, aka (I have learned today) bustalls.
On my way back to the car park, one of several lions guarding the outbuildings.

As a coda, I just have to share my huge pleasure at having been able recently to get together twice, with different sets of friends to make music, live. Not over Zoom, not joining in someone else’s recording, but actual live music-making as it used to happen BC. Well, not quite exactly as it used to happen, because this was al fresco. On Sunday we were five, that is two singers and three viol players. On Monday we were four singers, this time gathered in my garden,

and I have a brief video record of it here.