I think it’s fair to say that when Blenheim Palace decides to do something, it does it with bells, whistles, fanfares and a whole lot of style. This is the first year that the estate has created an illuminated walkway, picking up on a trend that’s been happening for some time at the likes of Waddesdon Manor and Westonbirt Arboretum, and they’ve done a fantastic job of it.
Your intrepid correspondent (me, in case you’re wondering) was one of the first to walk the hour-long path that takes guests down the back of the palace, over to the boating lake, up through the Capability Brown-designed grounds and finally to the lakeside lodge where Father Christmas is hamming it up until 2 Jan, and even though I did it solo, it was massively enjoyable.
If you’ve never played Property Flirt before (and if not, what have you been doing with your surfing time?), welcome to one of the most popular bits of Muddy Stilettos, where I show you round a mega des res in Bucks or Oxon, you guess the price and the winner gets to go on a romantic night out with Kevin McCloud.
You ready to rumble? Here we go,.
Flint House, above, is a gorgeous ex-parsonage in the middle of Penn St village, Bucks, built in 1849 and designed by Benjamin Ferrey, a specialist in the Gothic revival style.
Fancy something a bit different on the blogaroo today? No problem, may I offer you a stay in the Cotswolds castle where Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn spent 10 days of their honeymoon? Yes, seriously!
This gorgeous piece of stoneware is Thornbury Castle, a Tudor beauty built between 1512 – 1521 whose history includes the beheading of its owner Edward Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham on charges of treason.
The Ashmolean’s Summer exhibition is an underwater triumph, a 200-strong exhibition focuses on objects rescued from the bottom of the sea around Sicily, including pieces from an incredible ‘flat pack’ church and bronze battering rams once mounted on the prows of Roman warships.
Interesting times afoot at Stonor Park, one of the few privately owned stately homes in the area. It’s probably not been at the top of your must-see venues – Blenheim Palace and Waddesdon are the big beasts of the area – but it’s worth knowing about Stonor because they’re massively upping their offering this summer.
The manor house dates back more than 850 years and incredibly still in the same Catholic family, despite a turbulent Tudor history that saw its lands reduced as the family sought to survive.
Went into Oxford last Monday to take my kids to the Andy Warhol exhibition at The Ashmolean Museum – because those bratlets will be cultured, goddamit. But I entirely forgot that all the museums are closed on a Monday (even in half term which seem a bit daft). Cue some quick thinking and a change of plan.
Which was a scurry up St Michael in the North Gate tower, on the corner of Cornmarket and Ship Street.
Hey big fella *wink*. It’s been a long time since, you know, I came across one this big. 3500 foot to be precise. (Hey, get your mind out the gutter, we’re talking P for Property here).
This it the most expensive Property Flirt I’ve written about so far, giving a little Hey Big Spender sequin and shimmy to proceedings. We’re talking 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 reception rooms in rough an acre of grounds in affluent, elegant Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire.
Downton Abbey has long left us, but if you’re still harbouring visions of yourself as Lady Grantham (with a naughty dalliance with Lord Gillingham in the staff quarters – oh just me?!), here’s a nifty swifty guide to some of the Downton Abbey locations that you may not already know about. *Meh* to Highclere Castle, and hellooooo to…
Basildon Park, Berkshire (Grantham House)
I love this gorgeous Georgian mansion near Pangbourne and actually haven’t been for ages, so this is a prod-to-self to go over the next few months before it starts to get superbusy.
I visited Chastleton House when I was staying at Bruern Cottages in the Cotswolds a few months back (yes, the 5 star cottage holiday thats up for grabs on Muddy, have you entered yet?!!). Chastleton House is only a few miles from Chipping Norton so very much on the Oxfordshire side of the Cotswolds, very accessible for a day’s visit, and it’s really worth a gander if you someone who likes National Trust-style days out – not least because from the beginning of November your chances to visit substantially reduce as it’s only open two out of five weekends in Nov and two out of four weekends in Dec.
Oooh you’re going to love this exhibition! Chinese artist and activist Ai Wei Wei, has created an incredibly fun, subversive and cheeky exhibition that touches on colonialism, national identity, breaking with tradition, commercialism and I’m sure a whole lot more that has sailed right over the Muddy head. Currently unable to leave Beijing after falling foul of the Chinese authorities, Ai Wei Wei has created the whole thing from across the other side of the world, and it’s quite the spectacle.