Sunday, October 30, 2011

National Trust ~ Nyman Gardens ~ Sheffield Park & Gardens ~ Bodiam Castle ~ England

We love rv’ing but we left the RV behind and spent several weeks visiting and sightseeing in England, Paris, Venice, Rome and Greece. The sights we saw are nothing like home and the culture changes were amazing.   We began our travels in England.
We had never been there before so it was all new… perhaps 'new' is a bad choice of words…..it is amazing how old some of these castles, stately homes and gardens are. Actually, almost everything over there is very old but beautiful and what a wonderful way to see history.
National Trust is a charity organization established in 1895 that looks after hundreds of places all over England, Northern Ireland and Wales. We visited several of these sites during our visit to England this fall season and I’ve put only a few pictures of our visits to three of the many in the area.

The Messel family home in Nyman Gardens, England
 When WW 11 broke out in 1939, the Messel family, as well as many others in the area, opened their home to the boys and girls evacuated from London. There is a plaque in place from Buckingham Gate Central School to thank those at Nyman Gardens for kindness shown during that difficult time.

Fountain ornament in Nyman Gardens, England
 The Messel family owned the home and Nyman Gardens for over 100 years from the 1800’s covering 3 generations of their family. In 1953, Leonard Messel bequeathed it all to National Trust and his daughter, who oversaw the gardens until 1987. The beautiful gardens are ready for show every season of the year, and during our time there we saw a lovely September display of dahlias and others as well as some roses showing their final colors of the season.

Fire destruction of Messel home in Nyman Gardens, England
 Part of the home was destroyed by the fire in 1947 but Leonard Messel’s daughter, Anne, the Duchess of Rosse, lived in the remaining part of the home until her death in 1992 when the house became open to the public for the first time. We visited the Gardens during a quiet time and were able to enjoy the incredible treasures that only belong to a very old home. 

Sheffield Park & Gardens, England
 Sheffield Park and Gardens is another National Trust that offers a four season garden and park to enjoy. There are four lakes within the park as well as other water features. The informal gardens were created in the 18th century and have become a most beautiful place to enjoy a lovely walk. We didn’t get the sunshine we’d hoped for on our visit and the leaves hadn’t completely turned colors yet but the views were outstanding anyway.

Autumn colors at Sheffield Park & Gardens, England
National Trust has millions of members that enjoy their many sights and offer a yearly membership at a reasonable price that then allows you to enter any of their sites for free.  We enjoyed all of the National Trust locations we visited and most offer a shop to browse and in this case there were tours to enjoy and learn about the trees and flowers of the season. We did eavesdrop a bit as we passed a tour group but we were there to just enjoy the view.

Swan at Sheffield Park & Gardens, England
The only swan seemed quite happy to swim among the water lilies that were just beginning to come into bloom. Had we been able to visit here again, another week and we may have seen the lake covered in water lily blooms but we were pretty happy with what we did see.


Bodiam Castle, England
 Bodiam Castle, said by one historian to “represent the popular ideal of a medieval castle” is surrounded by a moat which I think certainly proves his statement to be right. This castle began construction in 1385 and finished in 1388 to defend against the French Invasion. This seems to be quite a feat considering their lack of big equipment in those days. It could almost take that long in modern days!

Moat surrounds Bodiam Castle, England
The Bodiam Castle, which had 170,000 visitors in 2010, was donated to the National Trust in 1925 by Lord Curzon, the last of many owners over the centuries. It was then that it opened to the public. Although the outside looks quite complete, the inside has only ruins but they are good enough to give an idea of what it was like in there when it was built.
The Bodiam Castle, as most National Trust properties offers many activities throughout the year which make them a great place for a family visit. For more information on the National Trust programs, especially if you're planning a trip to the United Kingdom, click here.

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