July 1 – Alfie visits Arlington Court

Hello from 1066 Medieval Mosaic

A lovely day today for our last full day with Alfie so after our morning walk we decided to go for an outing. We grabbed some lunch, money and of course the GPS and set off towards Barnstable on the A399. We hadn’t gone very far when we saw Arlington Court, a National Trust property advertised at the side of the road so turned off to go there. I had left my National Trust cards at the house and they ran out yesterday anyway, our new ones are at my uncle’s place. They are all computerised so quickly checked the computer and we were welcomed in. There are about eight Alvis cars on a car rally parked outside of the house. I have never heard of Alvis cars but as far as I can make out they started in 1919 and despite a few changes of ownership and a gap in production from 1967 they are still making cars. They certainly attract a lot of attention.  I think the blue one was Alfie’s favourite. He also had two walks all around the grounds, one with each of us. As Alfie was not allowed into Arlington House we took it in turns to go through the house.

Arlington Court is a neoclassical country house built in 1820 – 23. The building and the park and gardens are Grade II listed. The house was built for Colenel John Palmer Chichester  and it was considerably expnded by hs grandson Sir Alexander Palmer Bruce Chichester in 1865. Sir Bruces unmarried daughter Rosalie Chichester donated the mansion and its 5300 acres to the National Trust two years before her death in 1949. This included the Chichester family’s collection of antiue furniture and family memorabilia. Rosalie travelled a lot and filled every room with her collections. I was especially impressed withthe green wall paper in the drawing room which contains arsenic and the amazing red silk and gold thread wall paper in a drawing room. Upstairs there is an exhibition about Sir Francis Chichester, one of my heros, who sailed around the world alone in 1967 including calling in at New Zealand. He is not of the same wing of the family as Rosalie but still born and brought up not far away. Two other very special features of the house are the Arlington Psalter and the Battle Abbey Roll. Walter de Raleigh was the Chichester’s ancester born in Devon in 1040 and died at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. He was also the direct ancestor of HRH Charles, Lady Diana, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt.

We also visited St James Church which is adjacent to the property and found the church micro nearby. The National Trust carriage museum is also on the sight and there are many carriages of all shapes and sizes ranging from the humble ansom cab to the grandiose State Coach.

Alfie had had more than enough walking by this stage and on the way back to the car he put the brakes and refused to walk any further so mike had to carry him back to the car where we had a late lunch before driving on to Shirwell. Sir Francis Chichester is buried at St Peter’s church in Shirwell and there also a plaque to him inside the church. The church micro here took longer than necessary as I used the wrong numbers to calculate the final but we got it in the end. There was also a Kempe window showing his wheatsheath signature.

The font of St Mary the Virgin’s church in Pilton had a very unusual surround and roof. There was also a Queen Anne coat of arms which we have not come across before. It had a barrel roof and an ancient screen depicting the apostles which was damaged durig the reformation. There was also a huge marble altar reredos to Johannes Chichester who died in 1569 and a great tomb of Robert Chichester wo died in 1627.

A lovely day had by all.