Sunday, October 4, 2015


Sorry for the lack of posts lately -- after 2+ weeks in England, it has taken me awhile to get it back in gear. So I thought I would at least do a quick post on Saltram, which was one of my favorites from this trip.

Saltram is a bit of a challenge to get to -- I went from Plymouth and took a city bus there (I never drive in England -- I don't trust myself on the opposite side of the road, and don't like driving anyway). But it wasn't too bad and was most certainly worthwhile. It's about three miles outside of the city, but what a difference 3 miles makes -- you get beautiful grounds, Robert Adam interiors, and an Edwardian tea room.

The Robert Adam-designed saloon

The dining room, originally designed by Adam as a library

Dining room ceiling detail

A hidden cabinet for chamber pots, which the men would make use of once the ladies had left the dining room

It seems the National Trust has softened up a bit, either as a result of The Manor Reborn or for other reasons, because what I really liked about Saltram was the way it felt like the house still had some life to it, and you could be a part of that life for a short period of time. There were very few rope barriers, so you could walk about an entire room and take a closer look at its contents, rather than being kept to a narrow path. Staff were there in the rooms, and they were friendly and helpful without being overbearing. They were baking in the kitchen, so it smelled wonderful. And in one room, they even let a young man play the old Broadwood pianoforte.

The kitchen

Close-up of copper molds in the kitchen (I think these were for flummeries!) 

Playing the Broadwood pianoforte

I also liked that there was an opportunity to see some of the servants' spaces beyond the kitchen. Above the kitchen there were several servants' rooms open to see, and parts of the tour took you through the service hallways, so there was a chance to see some of the hidden entrances they would have used to get into the rooms.

Servant's room above the kitchen

The view from the servants' side of things

The rooms themselves were also remarkable, though. In addition to the beautiful Adam-designed rooms, there were quite a few where the trend for Asian decor during that era is quite dominant.

Two imcredible examples of wallpaper

And there was a proper library! I like to imagine the one at Pemberley is even bigger than this, but it's still pretty impressive. 

The library

The grounds were beautiful as well -- I think one of my earliest lessons in visiting English country houses was to allot enough time to wander the grounds and gardens, and have a nice leisurely visit.

The grounds offer both intimate paths and sweeping vistas, the latter particularly amazing since it is so close to Plymouth

Of particular interest to my nerdy self on the grounds was the presence of a ha-ha, which I've never actually seen in person. A ha-ha is a hidden wall that keeps livestock in, but keeps the view of the landscape uninterrupted. There are quite a few cows in the fields at Saltram, so it actually does serve a purpose here.

 Part of the ha-ha wall

That little crease that you can see is the ha-ha -- from farther away it would appear almost uninterrupted

I've shown quite a few pictures here, but there is so much more to Saltram that I haven't shown. If your travels take you to Devon I highly recommend making a stop. This may sound like sacrilege, but I actually enjoyed it even more than Lyme Park (not to say I didn't enjoy Lyme Park, because I did!). I think that was for two reasons -- the first is that relaxed feeling of intimacy that the house had, and the second is that Saltram's interior is much more like something our Regency characters would have lived within, while Lyme Park's is largely Edwardian.

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