Whenever I’m visiting family in Somerset I try to get out and explore some of the stunning countryside there and during this trip I’d decided to make the forty-five minute drive across to Barrington Court. That is the beauty of having National Trust membership, wherever you roam you can always find a pretty property to go and explore.
As I parked up and wandered down the drive I soon discovered that I had chosen Barrington’s famous “Apple Day” to visit. Ah… oops, this was not going to be the quiet morning I had planned then. This is why you should not only always check opening times but the events going on too! No matter, I rolled with it.
So what is Apple Day you ask? Well, it seems that as many people as possible are invited to Barrington to help collect the trees from their orchards which are then taken to the barns and pressed into juice and cider. There was music, people in traditional dress, talks, demonstrations, a whole hubbub of activity going on.
I decided to head away from the crowds to start with and enjoy some of the other parts of the property before getting involved with the day’s festivities. I took myself towards the kitchen garden first. Now as far as kitchen gardens go the one at Barrington is epic! It’s the largest I’ve seen (so far) and it really is a wonder to behold. The amount of produce they grow there is amazing. I actually visited back in August and the bounty was awesome. And the best part? Much of what’s grown goes to the cafe and restaurant to make uber fresh, yummy food to eat. Marvellous.
Now one thing that you are going to hear me go on about repeatedly on this blog is light. If I happen to be out exploring a pretty place on a day when there is, what I like to call “magic” light then oh, I am a happy bunny indeed. And on this morning, the light was beautiful. As I wandered through some of the grounds it was twinkling through the changing leaves on the trees and creating the most lovely sight. I could have sat there and oo-ed and ah-ed at it all day.
It was starting to get a little busier now and as I made my way around to the lawns at the front of Barrington House there were plenty of people milling around, walking and playing and the such. The lawns are a great spot, they are big and flat and perfect for picnics and games. In fact, in the warmer weather they bring out oversized games to play. It really is begging for a crochet set!
I didn’t actually venture into the house this day as I was a bit limited on time but I have to say that it is probably my favourite National Trust house to date for one simple reason. It’s empty. Strange I know, but these old houses are usually full of old musty smelling furniture and tapestries that simply don’t appeal to me (apologies if I cause any offence). It is so nice to walk around a place and just soak up the structure, the bones of it and only have to know the story of the house itself and not the umpteen memories of the inhabitants that have lived there and all of their trinkets. I find it quite refreshing.
Alongside the house is the equally impressive building that now holds the restaurant. Alas, no time to stop in there either but I did take a moment to enjoy its magnificence, made extra special by a rainbow appearing in the sky behind it. Then it was on to the gardens. Oh the gardens. Back in the summer they were the most spectacular sight and even now in October there was still plenty in bloom to enjoy. The white garden is my favourite, it has an extra special, slightly enchanting feel to it but on this day it was closed off so I could only peek inside from the barrier.
I walked along towards the stables and stopped for a moment under a big Ash tree. When I came here before there were two ladies sat on the bench in this spot sketching and painting and standing there now I could clearly see why. This was a heavenly little corner. You were enclosed amongst the tall stems of the flowers and had a wall behind you but could still see lots of the gardens in front of you and it felt like it was almost a bit of a hidden, secret spot. There was a radio nearby playing what sounded like a National Trust radio station which added to the back-in-time feel. I took a moment and just enjoyed being there.
I then made my way out of the gardens, over the little stream and back towards the buildings near the entrance. Down this way there is a row of little shops with local crafts and merchants in them. From gifts and fabrics to pottery and wicker ware. Great if you’re looking for something a little bit different and a little bit special. I wandered down peeking in each one and at the end rounded the corner to where all the main Apple Day activity was happening.
In the farm yard there were loads of people enjoying demonstrations of the cider presses, seeing displays of the different varieties of apples, tasting the ciders and juices along with homemade baked goodies. This scene really was the epitome of a harvest and it was great to see the community from far and wide contributing to picking the apples and then enjoying the efforts of their labour with a hot tipple and a pie.
And so that was that, my time ran out and back to the car I headed. There really is a lot to see and enjoy at Barrington Court. If you’re not a National Trust member then the entrance fee is quite expensive but in my opinion, certainly worth it. I whizzed around in about an hour or so but I would definitely take at least an afternoon or even a whole day to see it all properly. If you’re ever in Somerset, pop it on your list, you won’t be dissppointed.