Haughley House, Suffolk

Private. I visited Haughley House under the HHA’s ‘Invitation to View” scheme, where one gets a tour conducted by the owner, plus afternoon tea. The house also operates as a B&B.
The house dates from the 16th century, and the older parts are timber framed, unlike the 18th century extensions. Of particular note are the owners’ collections of fans, antique weaponry and militaria. Other features include include the priest hole in a chimney, two bricked up tunnels and manorial documents on display. There is also a three-acre garden with a walled kitchen garden.
My tour included the ground floor, first floor and a glimpse down into the cellar, and a tour of the gardens.
Externally the house does not look very interesting, but the interiors and contents are of greater interest, and it is worth a visit.
The house (for once) is easy to find, as satnav will take you into the village and you just have to bear right at the small village green and follow the Folly road round till you spot the house sign on the right.
Photography is not permitted on the tour but you can find a gallery of photos on the B&B website.
There is little to see of the nearby castle ruin, as it is on private property and shrouded by trees.

Berrington Hall, Herefordshire

National Trust. Berrington Hall is a substantial Georgian mansion built of sandstone, with attached service wings surrounding a courtyard. Service rooms occupy the basement of the house, and also lie under the service buildings at the sides of the courtyard. A walled garden lies near the house. Further afield one can take walks in the parkland. (This may involve braving a herd of cows). The parkland was designed by Capability Brown.
The house contains some fine ground floor rooms. In the dining room, paintings commemorate the victories of Admiral Rodney, a former occupant of the house. The bedrooms are mostly given over to exhibition space. Notable is an elaborate mantua, or court dress, worn by Ann Bangham, wife of the Hon. Thomas Harley.
In the basement under the house, various servant’s and service rooms can be visited.

Rear from courtyard
Drawing room
Drawing room ceiling
Desk
Boudoir alcove
Lady Cawley’s Room
Staircase
Mantua dress
Stair hall
Cabinet
Period costumes
Dining room
Library
Library
Marble Hall
Kitchen
Servants’ hall
Cupboard in basement
Cupboard in basement
Cows and haha

Croft Castle, Herefordshire

National Trust. The present version of the castle was built in the early 17th century in a ‘medieval revival’ style, but has undergone some revisions since, including the demolition of the servants’ wing. The Croft family were forced to sell in 1746 but their trustees repurchased the castle in 1923.
In the late 1580s, the original castle was converted into an Elizabethan house, which was severely damaged during the Civil War. The house was remodelled in a Gothic style in the 1760s by its then owner Thomas Johnes. A lesser remodelling took place in 1913, with changes made to the entrance front and the crenellations. In 1937, a 17th century service wing to the north-west was demolished. In 1957, after fears about demolition, funds were raised for an endowment and the house was donated to the National Trust.
The principal rooms have some fine interiors with furniture and paintings.
The adjacent church is older than the house. The walled garden and glasshouse are also worth a visit. On the wider estate you can find the Fishpool Valley and an ancient hill fort.

Library ante-room fireplace
above fireplace
china cabinet
room
Pietra Dura table
cabinet
Blue Room
Chest of drawers
enfilade
Oak Room
Dining Room
Hall
Gothick Bay Room
Church
Tiles in church
Monument in church
West front
Walled garden
Walled Garden
Repro. picture in walled garden
Walled Garden
Walled Garden
East side

Llancaitch Fawr Manor, Wales.

Private. This 17th century manor house has been restored and furnished as it as in 1645 when occupied by Colonel Edward Pritchard. A guided tour is conducted by actors playing the parts of some of Pritchard’s servants and explaining the history and contents. They talk in period language and the presentations are often very amusing. In the courtyard area there is a pleasant restored garden.
Tree ring dating suggests a date for the house of between 1548-1565. It was built to be defensible with walls 4 feet thick, and access between floors was by stairs within the walls. In 1628 the Grand Staircase was added and two rooms panelled. Some passages and stairs have been walled up, so there are more windows visible outside than inside. King Charles I visited the manor late in the Civil War, for discussions with Colonel Pritchard, but the Colonel later declared for Parliament.
The garden is a reconstruction of what might have been there originally.
Don’t miss the excellent exhibition contained in several rooms next to the modern reception area.

Table in hall
Interior
Interior
Garden
Side of manor

Newton House, Wales

Newton House at Dinefwr, and Dinefwr Castle. National Trust.
The Gothic-style mansion is a recent NT acquisition with some elegant ground floor rooms having fine ceilings, and a grand staircase. The first floor rooms are set up as exhibition rooms displaying a collection of objects found during restoration of the house. One exhibition features ‘125 objects from Dinefwr’ including things found under the floorboards.
Externally the house has an odd look with four square corner towers, a nineteenth century addition.
The house is set in an extensive park, including a deer park, woods and with the ruined Dinefwr Castle on a hilltop. White cattle, famous for having a long association with the area, can be seen in the park. Various walks are available. The old castle can be reached by a 20-minute walk uphill through woods, and is worth the effort as substantial walls and towers remain. The castle is thought to have been built by Rhys ap Gruffydd, king of Deheubarth. The castle changed ownership a number of times but fell into disrepair after Newton House was built around 1600.

Fireplace
Fireplace
Room
China
China
Exhibits
White cattle
Dinefwr Castle
View from castle

National Botanical Garden of Wales

The National Botanical Garden of Wales has (they claim) the largest single span greenhouse in the world. The site is set in a large park where you can go for walks of up to 1 or 2 hours. The less adventurous can walk or (if you have an excuse) take the buggy ride from the entrance up to the Great Glasshouse, and make your way back via the Double Walled Garden, Tropical House and whatever catches your eye on the way. The site owners say that to see everything requires an all-day visit.
The Great Glasshouse contains endangered plants from a number of regions with a Mediterranean climate, including South Africa, Australia, California and Chile as well as the Mediterranean basin. There are a number of specialist gardens and exhibitions scattered around the site.
Worth a visit if you are interested in plants, particularly exotic ones. When I visited at the end of June, there were not many flowers to be seen. Some familiar vegetables were growing in part of the Double Walled Garden.
Some re-purposed older buildings remain on the site, but not the mansion, which burnt down in 1931.

Great Glasshouse
Wild flowers
Apothecary’s Hall
Tropical House
Tropical House
Tropical House
Tropical House
Double Walled Garden

Craig-y-Nos Castle.

This is not really a castle, but a mansion with a castellated Gothic appearance. Now a privately owned hotel and wedding venue, it was formerly the home of the famous opera singer Adelina Patti, who bought the house and greatly extended it, being responsible for its present appearance.
The Gothic core of the mansion was built in 1841-3 for Mr Rice Davies Powell. Adelina Patti acquired the property in 1878 and had various extensions built. The most notable feature is a small theatre which Patti had built. The theatre was completed in 1891 and is still almost entirely original, with a tilt-able floor and the original flats behind the stage curtain. The attractive conservatory has been reconstructed using the original cast-iron columns, and various rooms on the ground floor have been refurbished, some of them very grand. Some bedrooms are available and a few can be seen on the tour, but the upper floors (included in the tour) were derelict at time of visit and remain a work-in-progress.
After Patti’s death, the property was purchased by the Welsh National Memorial Association and used as a hospital for many decades. When this ceased, the property passed into private hands and is currently a hotel and wedding venue.
Some relics of the hospital period remain upstairs. In the cellars a clutter of objects, cables and pipes of various periods are visible in rooms formerly used as the mansion’s service area.
One could say this is an unusual visit but worth a look if you are in the area.

House front & tower
Function room & portrait
Theatre
Theatre, left
Theatre, right
Sitting room
Conservatory

Carreg Cennen Castle, Wales

The castle, situated on a hilltop, dominates the surrounding countryside. It is accessible via Castell Farm, which actually owns the freehold of the castle. The farm has various rare breeds and a tearoom. Reaching the castle is via a stiff 20-minute walk. It is now ruined, but various levels can be explored, including a passage to a cave which was incorporated in the defences. If you want to explore the cave you will need a torch as the lower part is totally dark. Spectacular views are available form the castle.
The castle dates from the 13th Century, probably built for John Giffard, a Marcher Lord. It was garrisoned for the last time by Lancastrian forces during the Wars of the Roses, and after its capture in 1462, 500 men laboured for four months to dismantle it using picks and crowbars.

Inner wall
Gatehouse
View from castle
Wall of solar
Relic at farmyard
Farmyard and castle

Tredegar House, Newport

National Trust
Tredegar House was built from 1664-74, largely replacing an earlier Tudor house of grey stone. It was built by William Morgan, one of the powerful Morgan family who owned the house until the 1940s. The principal state rooms on the ground floor are the New Hall, Dining Room and Gilt Room. On the first floor are various suites including the Best Chamber, the King’s Room ( not actually used by a king) and the Master’s Bedchamber. Descending again, one can visit the basement area, with the bells passge, butler’s room, Great Kitchen, Pastry Room, Housekeeper’s Room, Still Room and the Servant’s Hall. The latter is in the old part of the house. In the centre os a courtyard (currently out of bounds to visitors because of objects falling from above.)
A fine set of gates face the entrance front of the house, and nearby is a stable block and orangery (currently under restoration.)

Dining Room
Gilt room
Room
Boiler
Servants’ hall
Servants’ hall exterior

Brecon Mountain Railway, Wales

The Brecon Mountain Railway follows the trackbed of the former Merthyr and Brecon railway, which closed in 1964, and runs from Pant to Tarpaantau. The railway is narrow (2 foot) gauge, unlike the original, and is hauled by two Baldwin steam engines manufactured in Philadelphia and formerly used in South Africa and Brazil respectively.
The track runs alongside the Taf Fechan reservoir, with large changes of elevation visible alongside the train. The total run is about 5 miles each way, passing some impressive scenery.
My trip was enlivened by some sheep wandering about on the track.
At Pant, visitors will find the usual facilities, and can look into the engineering workshop containing machine tools and any work in progress.
The train carriages have hard seats but are enclosed.

Workshop at Pant
Engine tender
Carriages
Locomotive no.2
Engine cab
Reservoir