Monday, 25 August 2014

Upton House- Midlands Tour Part 1

Having enjoyed a visit to Great Dixter and surrounding gardens 2 years ago, Lyn, an avid gardener and art enthusiast, and I decided to embark on a gardening and art tour of the Midlands.
Our focus was Wightwick Manor, having seen part of a TV programme showing a pre Raphaelite collection in a country house in the Midlands. Upton House was a stop on the way, and a fantastic experience. As we went through the entrance, we were asked to decide if the motto 'A fortune well spent' applied.
Upton House belonged in the 1930s to one of the richest men in Britain, Walter Samuel, 2nd Lord Bearsted whose father had founded Shell.
We started with the garden which because the house is built beside a valley, is on different levels making it intruiging with several very different areas. Although the bones of Sir Rushout Cullen's 17th Century garden are still there, it was brought up to date in 1927 by Lady Bearsted working alongside her adviser, Kitty Lloyd Jones and head gardener, Mr Tidman.
We found a stunning garden, starting with the borders at the rear of the house looking out onto an expanse of lawn, having no idea of what lies beyond:
 Two views of the borders:
 And from there we went west to the bog garden which was a stewpond, now a wet area
 Above a Salvia, maybe Amistead and below a Catalpa
 Below a great view of the former banqueting house, now Bog Cottage with Ligularia and Gunnera.
 Below that lovely Hydrangea I have in my garden
 Emerging from the bog garden, a carp filled pond.
 Looking back to the house from the Mirror Pool you can see the vegetable garden on the south facing slope:
 And another view of the Mirror Pool:
 And having walked round the herbaceous borders, we walked up to the house where we got a fabulous view of the house and lawn.
The gardens were Lady Bearsted's concern, and inside the house, Lord Bearsted collected art and furniture on a vast scale.
 In the Picture Gallery this painting by Francois Clouet (1519-59) of Henry11 of France (1519-1559) on horseback stood out, but there are masses of wonderful things on display there.
There was also an exhibition of Shell memorabilia on loan, but no photos allowed in there. There seems though to be Upton House's collection of Shell posters which are fabulous, persuading you that 'You can be sure of Shell'
 Below an Edward Bawden poster in the series encouraging people to use Shell petrol to visit Britain's landmarks

 And here is a Paul Nash:
 There was a whole other series of people who prefer Shell, this one of course particularly appealed to me.
It's a fab Cedric Morris painting.
So Part 1 of the tour exceeded all expectations, do visit Upton House when you can.

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