Jane B (knally) wrote,
Jane B

Queen Anne's Summerhouse

I've just spent a few days at Queen Anne's Summerhouse on the Shuttleworth Estate in Bedfordshire. The name is a little misleading since Queen Anne never came near the place, but the name seems to be connected to Samuel Ongley (the probable builder ) being knighted by her. Also as you can see, it's a fairly hefty piece of masonry and nothing like a summerhouse!

Queen Anne's Summerhouse

I arrived there on Monday afternoon, and was planning to get there while it was still light since it's in a wooded area, and the parking is about 50 yds from the main door. However I was caught in traffic and it was dark when I drove up the forest track - through two gates, one padlocked - and under an avenue of conifers towards the house. Luckily I had a torch, as advised, and the housekeeper had left the lights on in the main room which gave a lovely golden glow at the top of the small rise where the building sits.

Once inside, almost the entire living space is revealed once you open the door. This picture was taken the next day through a window on the staircase since it gives the widest view of the room. A chair on the left is one of a pair of chairs around the dining table. The bed is next, then the sitting area with the fireplace, no wardrobe but assorted cupboards and drawers. Out of sight is a bookcase with an assortment of books associated with the area. There was underfloor heating which gave some background heat, but particularly on the first night when there was a frost I was glad to light the fire. And one of the nice things in Landmark is tending an open fire which gets to be an entertainment in itself. Main room
Kitchen At first sight there doesn't appear to be a kitchen. But there are two sets of doors, one leads to the spiral staircase which leads up to the roof - where you can sit out in fine weather. When you open the others, a kitchen unfolds before your very eyes. A really brilliant piece of carpentry, it has everything you need for cooking. In fact I did a roast in the oven. (Click through twice on the picture to see the detail of the kitchen.)
And, of course, the other necessary room is the bathroom, which lives in the basement. That sounds very dank and dismal, and the brick floor looks like it will be cold. But as you can see it's a bright room, with a decadently large bath in the middle. The summerhouse and its water are continuously heated by ground source heat, which results in the bathroom being lovely and warm at any time of the day.
Shuttleworth I mentioned the summerhouse was on the Shuttleworth estate and the main house can be seen through the trees. It is a conference centre, but also part of a college offering various 'rural' courses. Near where I was staying, students came out on a couple of days to practise climbing trees for tree surgeon work. The estate also has an aeroplane collection, as well as a formal garden and a bird of prey centre. I didn't take advantage of any of these since it was the winter, but lots to do in better weather.
Most of the time I was there it was rainy, but there were some episodes of sunlight, especially in the morning. This picture captures a little of the lovely play of light through the woods. If you looked out the windows first thing, you could also see deer in the avenues, and numerous pheasants. I did do a couple of walks along the public footpath down to the village 'Old Warden', but stayed in most of the time. I wrote out all my Christmas cards - nothing to distract me! And I did sort out all my photos into boxes, and burned a lot of old letters, but not before I'd enjoyed reminding myself of old news. I read a couple of Georgette Heyer books which seemed particularly suitable for the surroundings. Woods
Lizard But although I was staying by myself, I wasn't alone. As you can see I had a little friend! In fact there were several lizards in the basement, who obviously find it a good place to stay in the winter - like me :-)

Tags: landmark trust

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