Chastleton House (It Even Has a Bookshop)

I’ve been off my blogging game ever since we got back from America, but I hope to remedy that soon. I have a blog post planned for every day of the coming week, including some reviews, my monthly Library Checkout, a few recommendations for July releases, and a look back at the best books from the first half of the year.

Today I’m easing myself back into blogging with a mini profile of the National Trust historic manor we visited yesterday, Chastleton House in Oxfordshire (but it’s nearer the Gloucestershire border – very much Cotswolds country).

Photo by Chris Foster.

My brother-in-law sent us a voucher for free entry into any NT property, but my eye was drawn to this one in particular because I saw that there’s a secondhand bookshop in the stables. Compared to other historic houses, this one feels a lot less fusty. It’s been preserved as it was when the NT acquired it in 1991, so instead of reconstructed seventeenth-century rooms you get them as they were last used by later tenants. There are cracks in the plasterwork, cobwebs in the corners, and lots of stuff everywhere. But as a result, it seems less like part of the corporate fold; even the “Do Not Touch” signs are handwritten.

Chastleton has a literary claim to fame of which I was unaware before our visit: it was a filming location for the 2015 BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. (Never mind that it was built in 1607–12, well after the Tudor history that novel is meant to portray.) Another interesting historical nugget: this is where the rules of croquet were codified in the 1860s, and there are still croquet lawns there today. Our visit happened to coincide with a special lawn games weekend, so we learned how to play croquet properly and my husband proceeded to trounce me.

Of course, I availed myself of a few bargain books from the secondhand stall.

We also had tea and cake from a charity sale in the next-door churchyard. After dinner back home, in the evening we decided to walk 10 minutes down the road to our local event space for a folk concert featuring The Willows, with Gareth Lee and Annie Baylis supporting. We’ve been to three gigs at this former village hall so far this year; with tickets just £10 each and the venue so close, why not?! Each time we have heard absolutely excellent live folk music, with tinges of everything from Americana to electronica.

The Willows in performance. Photo by Chris Foster.

All together, a smashing day out.

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10 thoughts on “Chastleton House (It Even Has a Bookshop)

  1. Ohh! I play croquet and I didn’t know that fact – I’ll show it off st the appropriate time 🙂 As you no doubt discovered, the rules of croquet are complex!

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    1. We always assumed croquet was older, but it seems it’s only been around since the 1830s. I think the teachers may have simplified the rules for us ordinary folk as there were lots of kids about and they wanted the games to go quickly to free up the courts for others. It reminded me of mini golf (at which I am also rubbish!).

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  2. What a lovely house! I’ve had a terrible blogging slump and now you’re the second person I read to say they’ve had a bit of a pause, so maybe there’s something in the air. I have to approve of your Tovey purchase, of course.

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    1. I think for me the issue has been adjusting to normal life after two action-packed weeks in America. We reckon we fit as much socializing into those couple of weeks as we would in 5-6 months back here. So the usual routine of working and blogging just feels a little empty.

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      1. I think mine was caused by moving from the hiatus of my operation recovery to full-on life, housework, work, exercise again, so a change in the other direction. There are actually five lacklustre bloggers in my Feedly at the moment!

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