Saturday, 30 June 2012

(London Museum #7)The Garden Museum

In my hunt for unusual museums that I haven't visited,  this one certainly fits the bill. It is in the deconsecrated church of St Mary's next to Lambeth Palace ( home of the Archbishop of Canterbury) on the South bank of the River Thames. It claims to be the first gardening museum in the world.

St Mary's is the burial place of royal gardeners and plant hunters John Tradescant and his son in the 17th cent. and it was this connection that gave John and Rosemary Nicholson the idea of turning the abandoned church into a museum.

I have driven past this church on many occasions as it is just before the roundabout which takes you onto Lambeth Bridge, yet I never noticed that the church had been converted to a museum. Once you walk through the gates you are met with beautiful wild flowers growing amongst the gravestones.

Inside the museum it still looks like a church but with some partitions. There is a large collection (actually not that large) of paintings, books, posters and leaflets to do with British gardens. There was also a video showing extracts from the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice as this was filmed in the gardens of Lyme  Hall, Cheshire. This was of great interest to me as I had visited Lyme Hall just a few weeks ago (see Blog on Lyme Hall) and loved being able to trace the steps of Colin Firth around the gardens.
Other exhibits included a collection of gardening tools - a cucumber straightener was one I didn't recognise.

At the back of the church is a small 17th cent style knot garden which shows the geometric patterns formed by low hedges which were very popular in the formal gardens during that time

A plaque dedicated to the founders of the museum, John and Rosemary Nicholson in 1977.

Walking around the knot garden I notced this large grave and on closer inspection discovered it was the grave of Captain Bligh  known for the mutiny on The Bounty.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Walking around Sissinghurst

The National Trust not only looks after Sissinghurst Castle but also manages the surrounding land. There are numerous wonderful walks which lead you through the beautiful Kent countryside. Here is the view over the Weald of Kent from just outside the gardens.

Looking across the moat to the Gazebo

I'm now walking away from the gardens and across a meadow with some beautiful wild flowers.

The walk takes me by the side of a lake with a solitary duck looking for someone to play with .

No ducks here. The water is so still, it is like looking into a mirror.

A track leads you into the woodland.

 I love seeing foxgloves in the garden but there is nothing to compete with seeing flowers in their natural habitat.

Crossing over the stream is a doddle with this bridge.

Now I don't mind spiders or snakes or any insects. I don't mind bats or birds. But one animal I do have a problem with and that's the cow. Why? you might ask. Well I have no idea, but crossing a field with cows in just makes me come out in a sweat. I will do anything to avoid crossing a field with cows in it. Here I am. I've come too far to go back and my only option is crossing this field with not just cows but a bull as well. I had no intention of getting close enough to tell the difference. I decided to avoid the path which crossed the middle of the field and keep as close as possible to the hedgerow and go round the field that way.

They may look docile but I wasn't taking any chances.

I crept around the edge of the field using this dog rose for cover. Yes I know I am mad but it was my only option. My heart was pounding as I stealthily made my way to a gate at the other side. Didn't get to the stile because that was too close to the cows but I got to the gate and was able to climb over it. Phew made it!

The next field just seemed to have rabbits in it so that was ok. Rather large rabbit hole though!
Ever have that feeling you're not wanted.

Safely back at last as I crossed the garden's nursery.

Back to the car park. No this isn't my car but you can always dream.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Sissinghurst in kent

At last I woke up to blue skies. Never mind the housework I couldn't wait to get out and about. Town or country I thought. Definitely country. I decided to go to Sissinghurst as I had heard the gardens and surrounding countryside were beautiful. I quickly checked the route on the internet and off I went.  It was 60 miles away but a lot of it was motorway so should easily do it in less than one and a half hours or so I thought! One and a half hours later I am in the middle of Rochester after negotiating road works and traffic jams. I manage to find somewhere to stop to carefully read the directions and look at the map. I had travelled in the wrong direction from the motorway it wasn't the road to Chatham I needed but Chatham road which was going in the opposite direction. After two and a half hours I finally arrived at Sissinghurst Castle just in time to eat my lunch before setting off to explore. Lunch - where would that be - oh I remember still at home in the kitchen where I left it! 

Saturday, 23 June 2012

The Inns of Court

There are four surviving Inns of Court that were established in the 14th cent.: Gray's Inn, Lincoln's Inn, The Inner temple and the Middle Temple. They were set up to provide accommodation for lawyers and their students. They very much resemble the colleges of Oxford or Cambridge with each Inn having a chapel, library and dining Hall. The Lawyers' chambers are grouped around courtyards and gardens. This is a walk through the Inner and Middle Temple which is open to the public but not many people realise you are allowed to walk through the archway.

This is the entrance from Fleet street (see previous blog). If you look above the archway you can see the old gas lamps. Across the road from the Temple are the Royal Courts of Justice so you sometimes see the lawyers in their black gowns going from their chambers to the courts.

Looking through the first window on the left you can see the legal documents tied up with red ribbon. This is how the phrase 'tied up in red tape' originate.

Middle Temple Hall
It is said that this is the finest Elizabethan Hall in the country.It was apparently opened by Queen Elizabeth 1 in1576 who dined here many times. It is still used as a dining hall for the Bench, Bar and students each day as well as other evening functions.

More chambers

One of the many gardens and courtyards within the Inns providing a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of Fleet street just a stone's throw away

The Temple church

The oldest part of the church is the round which was built in 1185. The church was damaged during the 2WW but was made good after the war when parts of the church which had been removed for renovation in the 19th century were returned. There are regular services in the church which members of the public can attend.