Monday, 6 June 2011

Woburn Abbey with friends.

Woburn Abbey
Its become a new tradition, but a very nice one and long may it continue, that one of my oldest friends and I meet up somewhere in the UK and visit a castle or stately home.  So far we have been to Warwick Castle, when it rained and rained but we still had fun, Kenilworth Castle, another overcast day, but it didn't spoil our enjoyment and this last weekend, in brilliant sunshine and blue skies we met at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire.

Coming from different sides of the country we manage to arrive more or less at the same time, and this time was no exception, but I think she had the edge on the journey as she is a bit nearer and her hubby drove, so she got a lie in!!  But, in all fairness, it was the first time I had to travel further.  So.  Charley, my daughter and I, set off from Hereford about 8.30am on Saturday morning and arrived at Woburn Abbey around 11.15am.  Its a beautiful setting and Woburn Abbey has been home to the Dukes of Bedford for nearly 400 years.  It was opened to the public following the death of the 13th Duke in 1953.  The deer park at Woburn Abbey is home to nine species of deer two of which, the Fallow Deer and the Red Deer are native to the UK.

Fallow Deer

 Inside the Abbey is beautifully restored, with a fabulous collection of paintings by artists such as Van Dyke - namely portraits some of them magnificent in their scale.  Canaletto - his beautifully paintings of Venice.  A wonderful collection of very rare books on wild birds, beautifully illustrated with watercolour paintings.  Down in the 'vaults' collection after collection of antique dinner services, which did fascinate my daughter as to why they had so many!  My favourite part of the Abbey, and sadly I was so overwhelmed I forgot to take photos, was the antiques 'row'.  Situated in the Abbey's 18th century South Court, the antiques are all displayed within traditional shop frontage 'shops', like an old fashioned shopping street.  ( I hope that makes sense!)  I was more intrigued by the shop fronts, some black and white buildings, like Hereford!, with balconies to which we all started quoting 'Romeo, Romeo...where for art thou Romeo' you do! than I was with the antiques, but still very amused listening to my friend Lorna trying to convince her hubby that they 'needed' that particular antique and it was a 'snip' at....£1400!!

Wooden men climbing.
Close up and underneath!

As well as the Abbey and the antique centre we wandered around the gardens.  The gardens are still at the beginning of the design stage for the Abbey and in 10 yrs they will be magnificent, but, when we were there they were still very pleasant with plenty to see.  Parts of the garden are exhibiting some of the most fantastic sculpture in various mediums, from wood, to mesh, bronze and steel.  One of all of our favourites was the wooden men climbing the monkey puzzle tree, even close up the figures were brilliantly made.  Another favourite was a bronze sculpture of a girl reading and a spaniel.  

We had a wonderful day, its so nice to meet up with friends, enjoy picnics, this time in the sunshine amongst the deer poo, and explore historic buildings and have a giggle.  I can't wait until the summer hols, Windsor Castle here we come!! 


Jane said...

What a great day out Laney. I too love historic buildings. I have not been to Woburn for many years though. You will LOVE Windsor, the town is also a great place to visit aside from the wonderful castle. Have fun!
Jane x

Laney said...

Thank you Jane. I am sure we will have fun!! Woburn was a lovely abbey and the sun shone all day making up for the rainy days we have had before! x

lynsey said...

what a quintessential English summer outing, love it.

Laney said...

Thank you Lynsey, it is a beautiful place to visit if you have never been.

Cat said...

Thanks for sharing! It indeed looks like a beautiful place.

Maybeads said...

I want to go castle hopping with you! What a wonderful tradition. I love the pictures of the deer.