We went off down to Gloucestershire last week for a few days and on the way there and back visited Hidcote (where we’ve been before) and Snowshill Manor (where we haven’t). Both days the weather was kind to us, whilst it was raining on and off, whilst we were outside it was dry.
To me, Hidcote is one of those places which are overplayed. Yes, you can drift through the various “rooms” getting surprises around each of the corners and the design of the garden makes it much more interesting to view than if it were open parkland. However, it is largely just a garden and, as the aspect of gardening that entertains me the most is fruit & vegetable gardening, when I see vegetable gardens that struggle to show their crops off well and (more importantly) where you feel the output of the garden isn’t used or wanted, I feel slightly annoyed/depressed. So, would I visit again, probably as a stop on the way but not as a deliberate individual day out.
Snowshill Manor on the other hand is a place that I would make a deliberate journey to go and see again. A fantastic, eclectic collection of everything from the ordinary to the extra-ordinary, each and every room in the house surprised, entertained and amazed all at the same time. Charles Wade apparently collected all sorts of things and used the house as his “display case”. Its not a museum (fortunately) but a display of all the things he collected (from the UK, he didn’t travel abroad, all the items on display were acquired in the UK and repaired/restored for display). So there are clocks, model ships, bicycles, Japanese Samurai armour, all sitting next to each other in the rooms he themed just to display them. Equally fascinating is the Priest House where he lived with its box bed.
Its a place I would definitely return to, there was so much to see, all in good order. It reminded me of my other favourite place (Calke Abbey), however, unlike Calke, it was handed over to the National Trust in good order and hadn’t run down in any way so what you get is the impression of a wealthy, eccentric collector who was proud of what he’d got together and wanted to show it off to everybody who was willing to come. (How true that is doesn’t matter, if he wanted to keep it all to himself, fortunately the National Trust wants to show it off). By keeping it all together in largely the way he left it (obviously a “route through” has had to be created) its far more evocative of a personality than a museum or art gallery would be.
Go visit, you’ll be entertained.