As we drove though the tall front gates into the parkland of Kingston Lacy , we followed the drive that would have been used by centuries of visitors to the Great House. A roadway wide enough for two fine horse drawn carriages to have passed each other with ease. Fenced on either side with cast iron railings, to keep sheep and cattle from straying from their pasture. Fine trees, planted in groups, have given years of shelter to stock. To the west of the driveway, a dewpond lies in a dip of land ; a watering place for grazing animals to drink and gather.
Behind the main courtyard of the house, there is a path that leads into a garden of tall and formal yew hedging. The West side of Kingston Lacy House. In the foreground is a courtyard of red bricked buildings where housekeeping areas such as the laundry would have employed local village people to service the Great House and its occupants.
A weather vane on the roof of a courtyard building, seen from gravel path behind the main house.
The East side of Kingston Lacy House. All the windows are shuttered in the winter. Inside, antique furniture is hidden beneath dust covers and the rooms are closed and darkened, to protect the paintings and treasures that the Bankes family collected over their three hundred years of residence.
Outside, garden urns are protected from winter weather by dark green wooden boxes. A formal garden of box hedges is at the bottom of the steps from the house.
The elderly man in the photograph asked if I wanted him to move. I asked him to stay as he was, gazing out across the acres of green parkland. He told me that he and his wife visit Kingston Lacy several times each year. They love the house and the garden and they travel from a village to the east of Southampton. For them, this place has been a favourite day out over many years and seasons.
Box hedges shaped into the appearance of bubbles or growing cells.
My son called this the Elbow Tree!
Through iron gateways, a path from the walled garden and down into the park.
An early flowering Helleborus orientalis, the Lenten Hellebore.
Looking westwards across the park towards the Iron Age hill fort of Badbury Rings.
Across the park to yew hedges, the stable yard and wooded hills beyond.
Aconites among the snowdrop beds.
Sundial and tree shadows as the early afternoon sun appeared from behind the clouds.
Velvet moss and a tree stump in the wild wood.
Saddleback sows rooting in the earth at the edge of a young copse. Pigs are used to clear undergrowth before further tree planting takes place.
Gloucester Old Spot sows root and feast in the wet soil.
Dry beech leaves on a sapling beneath the parent tree.
Growth and decay in the wild wood.
A great tree stump from a felled conifer shows numerous holes where woodpeckers have drilled to feed on the insects beneath the bark.
Felled tree - a natural sculpture.
Hidden in a quiet glade, the graves of beloved family pets. Carving on the tall stone reads "Silvertail Pony, died 1915". The smaller stone is dedicted to "Two Old Friends", maybe dogs or ponies, mourned by the Bankes` children of Victorian times.
Bright bark, striped red, on an old cherry tree at the woodland edge.
At the base of a huge conifer, not far from the Great House, is a stone commemorating its planting by King William IV in 1827. The Hanoverian William IV was a brother of his predecessor, King George IV. William died without legitimate children and the throne then passed to his young niece who became Queen Victoria.
Living in the beautiful New Forest, I am married, a recently retired teacher and the mother of grown up boys who have flown the nest. I share my days with cats, dogs, ponies and the wildlife all around us. Starting this blog is a chance to explore woods, fields, lanes and heath with my camera. A chance to share the simple pleasures of my country life.