Killerton, Broadclyst, Devon. With nothing in my diary for the day, and having noted long ago that I wanted to catch an exhibition there before it closed, I took myself on Friday to this National Trust property a few miles north-east of Exeter. It is one of the county’s largest estates. The house was originally intended to be temporary, but the grandiose mansion planned was never built. The late 1780s Georgian property was extended twice, early in the nineteenth century and again a hundred years or so later. I came across this description of the estate at one point.
It was donated to the National Trust in 1944. After the obligatory coffee on arrival, I left the elegant Georgian stable block, which now houses café, shop and plant sales, and took a backward glance at it.
At the end of the drive lay the house itself, presently housing three exhibitions relating to the long campaigns for votes for women. A stark reminder of how the campaign could divide members of the same family, aunt and niece in this case, each living on the estate, greeted visitors. The first exhibition was a collaboration between the NT and the National Portrait Gallery, London.
Octavia Hill. Octavia Hill! Against! Social reformer! She who had so much to do with the founding of the National Trust!
I had not previously realised just how strongly some women felt that they should not get the vote, and I felt uneasy all the time I was in this small exhibition, very conscious how another political debate today, on which I feel so strongly, is dividing households and friends. (My cats are totally apathetic on the matter, so my household is tranquil.)
The other two exhibitions, fashion related to the suffragette/suffragist movement, and more about the two Acland women, left me less emotionally troubled. I could not have been a suffragette, but am equally sure that I would have been out there marching with the non-violent suffragist movement.
The music room
I was very tempted to sing this out loud, but I didn’t quite dare. I’m pretty sure though that onlookers and volunteers would have been delighted!
A set of playing cards laid out on the console table, with pro and anti themes
A House of Commons with not a woman in sight …
The drawing room
The Pastor’s Fireside, by Henry Singleton, the 19th Baronet Acland reading to his family
The library, somewhat spoiled in my view by all the panels of quotations
The dining room
The movement had a long history
None looked like achieving anything, until the World War I when women proved their worth in ‘men’s’ jobs. I actually got a little angry inside as I looked at the changing pictures , some of which are in the slideshow below, showing just what work they had done.
Why did they have to do ‘men’s’ jobs to prove they were sufficiently responsible to vote?
This map showed that New Zealand was the first country to give women the vote (1893), and Saudi Arabia (2015) has been the latest
A delightful respite in one of the bedrooms from all that politics
On emerging from the house, I went looking for a snack in the Dairy Café. But it was closed, so I went back to the entrance café, not wishing to take a meal in the main restaurant in the house. After having my soup, I went off in search of the old 1950s Post Office, but reading the notice saved me the tramp over there, though the path looked enticing.
I’m glad the fence was strong!
This was Friday
So I went back to the house and started exploring the gardens, which, as this slideshow proves, still had plenty of colour, this early October day.
From there I went further into the grounds. I came across a granite cross, which I have since learned was erected in 1873 in memory of the 10th Baronet who did so much to develop the estate, by 40 of his friends. But for me the main interest was that it was swarming with harlequin (i.e. non-native) ladybirds, scurrying about, never still and occasionally flying off and returning.
Harlequins come in many colours
Were they enjoying the warmth that the granite had absorbed during the morning? Were they preparing to swarm together to find a place to hibernate? My researches have not got me very far… But some of them came far with me. It was a good fifteen minutes and several hundred metres away before the last one emerged from my hair.
I was keen to leave Killerton in time to avoid Friday evening traffic, but still had time for a gentle stroll in a small part of the parkland, where I met scarcely a soul.
A glimpse of the Victorian chapel
Lovely spot for a romantic picnic
Autumn rolls on
This post has been very long, but here is a slideshow for any reader with stamina for 12 more pictures with details.