Unfortunately it was a dull and misty autumnal morning and so the approach to the priory wasn’t quite as breath taking as it can be on account of not being able to see it. However I think everyone agreed how beautiful the place was.
We were very lucky to have the guided tour by someone who knows the building well, Mr George Buchanan. Not only does he live here with his wife and children but his family have been at Hodsock for 250 years, that’s 9 generations.
The gate house is very impressive and a wonderful entrance way. It was built over 500 hundreds years ago and has housed royalty including Henry the Eighth and his fifth wife. Amazing to think that this private house just on our doorstep is home to such steep history.
We learnt that during the war the land was turned over to the Womens Land Army. During their time at Hodsock they used the gatehouse as a cinema and meeting room. In most recent years it has been used to store equipment and signage. Currently it is undergoing repair, last year it was made water tight and weather proof with the windows having been repaired and the guttering replaced. This years job is the re-pointing of the crumbling bricks on the outside, a slow, painstaking and skillful job. It is important to get young apprentices in to work on these sort of projects or the time will come when there are no tradesmen left to repair such historical places.
We got to see the room that now hosts the weddings at the priory but which was once a room in which the family would have had pre-dinner drinks. With its beautiful fireplace, ornate ceilings and many portraits of the families ancestors it is a truly beautiful room.
We also got to see the old library, again a beautiful fireplace, marvelous bookcases, interesting artifacts and comfortable seating make this a room to feel at home in. I was interested in the extremely high backed chairs and why they were made so. Apparently it was a design of old where drafts were commonplace, the high back on the chair helped to keep the drafts off you and so helped you to stay warmer. These ones are replicas and so not as old as they looked.
We also walked around the amazing gardens and woodlands and I think we all agreed that we were slighlty envious of the family having the space as their back garden. The garden is filled with all sorts of delights, there are different areas such as a terrace, a lake, a stream, greenhouses, lawns and of course the woodland where we saw trees planted for many special events including the Queens Diamond Jubilee. We also saw a lot of fungus this time of the year.
As beautiful as it was nothing quite compares to Hodsock during the snowdrops, I can really recommend a visit. The floor is a carpet of snowdrops and the ones on the fan lawn are stunning. After a walk around the beauty of the place you can either warm yourself by the bonfire in the woods or by calling into the cafe for cuppa and cake. Keep eye out for the dates of the snowdrop opening here http://www.hodsockpriory.com/snowdrops-0 or on the facebook page https://www.facebook.com/events/901293299958449/