My husband and I have visited parts of England in search of ancestral haunts and visiting friends and cousins. We usually try to do a little sightseeing, too, which kind of breaks up the monotony of so many churchyards, parish churches, archives, etc., -- mostly in Lincolnshire.
Beginning of one trip, we visited with Porteous friends in Aylsham, Norfolk. While there we were thrilled with a visit to Blickling Hall. It's possibly the birthplace of Anne Boleyn, the wife of King Henry VIII, but no one knows exactly when she was born, so if she were born before 1505, then Blickling would be the place.
The building which now stands was built on the ruins of the original standing during the reign of James I. The Boleyn family owned the original hall around 1500. No matter, the house, as it is now, was being restored when we visited. You can see the scaffolding on the center tower. In back of Blickling Hall there are remarkable gardens which seemed to go on forever and a nice-sized lake. We were there in early spring when it was cold and dreary, but color was starting to fill the gardens as the spring flowers were coming out. The hall's beauty didn't suffer in our eyes either.
TO DODDINGTON HALL
We had a wonderful few days with our friends and then we went on to Lincolnshire to do the priority reason for the England visit -- family history. We were in Lincs for a little over a week. A day or two before we left for our trip home, we visited Doddington Hall which is just west of the city of Lincoln. This building (below) was completed around 1600. It is considered an Elizabethan house with walled courtyards and a gabbled gatehouse. The inside had been updated around mid-1700s. It has always had a family living in it. The gardens are in the back and are quite stunning. Besides the formal knot garden, there were extensive "wild" gardens to explore. We were there when the trees were in blossom; birds and bees filled the air with a wonderful sound of their activities. Ducklings paddled around on the little pond next to the kitchen garden; their mom watched as they were showing a little independence.
IMAGINATIONS COULD RUN WILD
These two "halls" are certainly stately and each is distinctive in its own right, yet, the thing that most fascinated me and sticks in my mind from visiting these stately mansions were the very interesting, old, huge trees with giant limbs stretching out from the trunk like serpents in the sea. I guess one wouldn't think that is something to remember, but my imagination still lingers over there.
What dreams the children of these houses must have had. Those kids didn't have tv or videos to rob them of their imagination. Their fingers weren't attached to a smart phone either. Can you imagine what a small child would have seen looking out a window during a thunder storm? Those trees would be moving up and down, swaying in the wind with lightning flashing like fire from a dragon's mouth!
Were there monsters coming into a child's bedroom as the moonlight casts shadows through the window? Just look at that tree in the picture below...can't you see a dragon or a giant serpent?
|Trees or monsters in the gardens of Blickling Hall.|
|I wonder what kind of scary story came out of this hedge interior?|
COULD THE TREES AT DODDINGTON HALL SCARE A CHILD?
I think a child's imagination could run wild looking at these trees. In the moonlight they could look like monsters or giants. Maybe one of those low branches is a witch's boney finger. How many children over the many years wouldn't go near the edge of the wild garden for fear of the three witches?
I can't begin to tell you what all a child's imagination could conger up, but I'm sure if there were, mom and dad would hear the stories in the morning! How many of these children grew up telling about what was lurking out their bedroom windows?
|Witches in the gardens of Doddington Hall?|
Think of the stories a children's storyteller could come up with, too. How many adventures have we read about that possibly started with trees similar to these? No one knows, but I'm sure there must have been a few. We might have seen the animation of some trees in Disney films of the old classic fairy tales...hmmmm.
When I was a little girl, we had a standalone stove in the next room from where I slept. My dad would get the fire going on the cold nights -- just to "take the chill off" before we went to bed. I remember there was a small door on the burn chamber with a little window for monitoring the flames inside. Well, those flames would cast a shadow that looked like a bear walking towards my bed. It was very frightening indeed. I stayed as still as I could and before the bear had a chance to reach me, I'd quickly yank the covers over my head hoping the bear wouldn't see me and he would go away. By morning the bear was gone. Only the thought of a warm kitchen would get me up and out of bed and downstairs away from my chilly bedroom. At breakfast I'd tell my parents about the bear and my dad would always promised to chase him away before I went to bed again.