A House on the Hill..


High on a wooded hillside above the Derbyshire  River Wye, is the Manor House of Haddon Hall.

It is an enchanting Hall,  for over 900 years, since it was built it has been in the Manners family.  It has avoided all the turmoil’s that have overtaken many castles, abbeys and  and houses over the country’s turbulent times in history.

Remarkably  the Hall stood empty for about 200 years ( The Manners Family preferring their other home Belvoir Castle).  This has done todays visitors a great favour, as the interior has remained very much as as it was….you can literally step back in time.

Well worth putting on your list of places to visit when better times return.

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

28th May

(C) David Oakes 2020

Saturday…. and another Grand Day Out


Culzean Castle, Ayrshire, Scotland

In hope, and looking forward to being able to travel once again, I am recalling places that have proven to be great days out.   So lets head to  the Ayrshire Coast of Scotland.

Culzean Castle and its surrounding Country Park is one such location.  It is quite a ‘new’ castle.  Built on the ruins of and earlier building, the 10th Earl of Cassilis,  commissioned the Architect Robert Adam to build a Grand Country House.  Culzean Castle is the result.  It was built between 1777 & 1792.

I would describe the Castle as being double fronted.  The landward side above overlooks a beautiful formal garden with many exotics.

The seaward side overlooks the Firth of Clyde, Ailsa Craig , Isle of Arran, and beyond into the Irish Sea.  So the castle was designed to provide rooms with great sea views.


The Earl of Cassilis was Chief of the Clan Kennedy.  It was the Kennedy family that gifted Culzean Castle to the National Trust  of Scotland in 1945.  The Kennedy family attached one condition….. That an Apartment within the Castle be kept for the use of Dwight D Eisenhower in recognition of his service to the Country as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in WWII.  As President of the United States, he took advantage of the honour as a holiday venue.

Once we overcome the current difficulties it will once again become a both a grand holiday location  and the opportunity for a Grand Day Out. 

If the Ayrshire weather is kind and you linger into the evening you may well be graced with a sunset over the Isle of Arran….

 and that’s a bonus in itself

When life becomes more normal it is well worth a visit….  Till then…

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

23rd May

(C) David Oakes 2020

Ascension Day…… and a Pagan Custom


Today the 21st of May is Ascension Day, a key date in the Christian calendar.  Prior to it being adopted by the Church it was an important date and event in the Pagan year.   Today would also  mark the start of the Derbyshire Well Dressing Season. 

The Pagan belief was in the  need to ‘Bless’ the life giving purity of the waters from these natural springs and wells in the villages.   A need for purity that may ring rather true today.

 Tissington village would in a normal year be packed with people, both for the Blessing of the Village Wells by Church Leaders.  Then a Procession round to each Well.

It is quite a spectacular. Sadly in these trouble times this cannot happen.  So I have cheated and adding two links to todays page.  They recap  visits  in earlier happy times.  Take a look at this rather unique event.



I hope you find the tradition interesting 🙂

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other


21sy May

(C) David Oakes 2020

A Bridge….. over onetime Busy Waters


Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire

Once upon a time this part of the River Severn was know as the Severn Gorge.  It was a busy industrial area and relied upon the Severn as the key means of transport.  Coal, Iron Ore, Limestone and Clay could all be found in the immediate area.  The area became known as Coalbrookdale home of iron foundries and pottery… an important industrial region.

So to link both sides of this busy valley a bridge  was needed.  It had to be a bridge high enough not to interfere  with the passage of  the high mast boats  on the busy river.

The Bridge that was constructed and opened in 1779 was the first in the World to be made from Iron.  100ft span and made from Iron founded in the Gorge.  The design was by  Architect Thomas Pritchard.  Not at first taken that seriously, after much lobbying and fund raising  Master Ironmaker Abraham DarbyIII was contracted to construct the Iron Bridge.  Records suggest that the cost was between £3000 & £4000.

The Bridge was such a success that the Gorge changed its name to Ironbridge Gorge.

The Bridge, the Gorge and its Industrial Heritage is now part of a World Heritage Site.

When life becomes more normal it is well worth a visit….  Till then…

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

19th May

(C) David Oakes 2020