Through modern wrought iron gates, across the wide shallow moat and along the gravel drive which curved slightly. The island enclosed by the moat is quite large, comprising some four or five acres, mostly wooded gardens. The moat was first constructed in prehistoric times by our brythonic ancestors (in an archaeological excavation about sixty years ago the skeletons of two men, buried in sawdust, with mosaic rings on their arms, were found). DNA tests in isolated communities show that the genetic descendants of the brythons are still among us.
The Roman's built a villa within the moat, and in the subsequent two thousand years the residence has been rebuilt and rebuilt until its present manifestation - plain Regency of 1812, faced in stucco and painted cream. A venerable cedar tree obscured with a verdant veil my first view of the house.See photo: http://afroml.blogspot.
com/2006/03/recumbent-effigies-in-south-aisle_05.html.In front of the house the moat widens into a lake, and because the building is so close to the water's edge you had to walk right across the front and down a slope before you could look back and get a complete view of the main facade.
Rising three floors, the top storey had an open loggia with a rooftop terrace behind (Pevsner says this arrangement was put in after a fire destroyed the attic rooms in the 1950s - a familiar fate of country houses lit by candles). There is a legend that inside the house is a secret hiding place next to one of the fireplaces, and that a recusant priest taking refuge in this hole suffocated with the heat and smoke, his skeleton being found years afterwards.At some point a landscape gardener had widened the moat in front of the house so that it became an ornamental lake. In the subdued light of a late February afternoon the water looked as mysterious as Dozmary Pool. A discarded oar, looking forlorn, acted as a reminder of summer boating sessions.
To the side of the house were the stables, in substantial Victorian brick. The main house had a small coat of arms on the front facade (just below the loggia) but the stables had a massive crest on the front, denoting the pride felt in the horseflesh within. In an echo of Rupert Brooke the stable clock said ten to three.
A crest is not the same as a coat of arms. Arms (which are regulated by the College of Arms in London) are worn on a shield, whereas a crest is a device worn on the top of a knight's helmet. This crest featured a regardant lion (ie looking backwards) holding a crowned head (a decapitated foe whose head was thrown to wild beasts?).
Looking into the Tackroom you could see saddle pads, saddles, bridles, whips (stood up in a traffic cone), feed supplements, cleaning materials.Horseshoes on a stable window sill, all carefully pointing the right way (lest the luck should run out). Horseshoes are regarded as lucky because they are made of iron, which is supposed to repel evil.
They also have seven nail holes, which is a lucky number.Across the lane was the church, built of ironstone, a Saxon foundation but rebuilt over the ages.The Poor Box was carved from a single slab of wood, with the date 1639, and the inscription: This is God's Treasury cast one mite into it (was this a reference to the widow who cast one mite, her entire wealth, into the Temple treasury?).
Recumbent effigies in the south aisle. Two stone knights (and another one in the chancel). Obviously knights are mounted on horseback, so horses must have been kept at the hall since at least the middle ages.Effigies of knights usually show the feet resting on a dog or a lion, but one of these effigies showed puppies either side of the head. It was a worn scultpure, but you could make out the worn shape of a puppy. He was a man who liked dogs!.
Outside the church the countryside fell away in gentle slopes..Personal blog http://www.afroml.blogspot.
By: Andrew Amesbury