Like the melting ice on the River Neva in Russia, the travel log-jamb caused by…
Have you ever been deafened by silence? The silence at Kyre is total, no motor-way noise, no 21st century, just a total stillness, which at night is covered by a velvet star-spangled sky.
Kyre,(pronounced Keere) an 18th century house of the Pytts family, has something of a complicated history as do so many English houses, but suffice it to say that nowadays it is enjoying a renaissance thanks to its present owner, Mrs Tzaraine Gwyn-Jones.
It is particularly happy in that it was rescued from institutional use by her late husband, Tim Gwyn-Jones, who not only re-roofed, and re-windowed the battered mansion, but created a comfortable elegant house with proper plumbing and even a lift. How many country houses can say that?
The staff is supervised by French bull-dog, Arthur, and disorganised by two Irish wolf-hounds, Geoffrey and Sylvia.
Ensconced in these idyllic surroundings our party sallied forth to visit some of the sights of the vicinity. Do you know this part of the world, the Welsh Marches? In this throbbing world particularly when drenched with sunshine, it is difficult to imagine a more verdant “English” landscape. Time has stood still since the 1960’s, so unspoilt is the countryside as we trundled round in our mini-bus.
For the country-house addict it is an ideal hunting ground. Our visit concentrated on some of the smaller and less well-known houses. Burton Court, with a façade, oddly, by Clough-Williams Ellis of Portmeirion fame, Sufton Court, with landscape by Humphry Repton. The house still retains the original copy of Repton’s Red Book, which sets out his ideas, which luckily still survive. Tea in the garden.
Perrycroft, an Arts and Crafts house by CFA Voysey, was out-of-step date-wise, with the other houses we visited. It stands on a dramatic site overlooking the Iron Age fort of British Camp, near Malvern. Alongside the gardens, which have been restored by the present owners, stands the lovely house so sympathetically furnished. It was difficult to get the party to move on to the next destination!
The grandest house on the tour was Berrington, designed for Edward Harley, by one of the Prince Regent’s favourite architect’s Henry Holland. He was responsible in the first instance for Carlton House, the Prince’s soon-demolished palace on Pall Mall. Built of an intense red-sandstone, Berrington is a striking house owing much to the advice of Andrea Palladio. Apart from the elegant frenchified state rooms it was fascinating to see the below-stairs life captured by the still intact detritus of everyday Edwardian life.
But probably the most unusual house we visited, nothing to do with Arts and Crafts or Palladio, was the tree house built by John Beavan. John, one of Britain’s most esteemed cabinet makers, has built at the bottom of the garden, not one but two tree houses. If you think of tree houses as a bit rough-and-ready at best, then you need to see these two. Personally speaking, I am not much taken with rudimentary living, camping, glamping, call it what you will, but I would willingly stay in these “simple” dwellings. Being a cabinet maker they are immaculately fitted out, with marble work-surfaces and even a staircase winding round the trunk of the tree. See www.treeopia.co.uk.
Quite a variety of houses, I would suggest, for a four night stay in a beautiful part of our sceptred isle.
Kyre Park is not normally open to the general public but thanks to the generosity Mrs Gwyn-Jones we were able to savour country-house life as it really should be. You are most welcome to visit the gardens of Kyre, see www.kyrepark.com with five lakes, cascades, pavilions, wildfowl and an abundance of trees….ideal dog-walking territory in an idyllic setting.
ASPECT EVENTS programme for 2024 will be published shortly which will include country house visits organised by Travel Editions, a week-long visit to the South of France, cruises with both Noble-Caledonia and Hebridean, as well as a special short stay in a Victorian palace in the Autumn.
SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO!
PLEASE CONTACT ME, NICHOLAS MERCHANT FOR FURTHER DETAILS