Ellie Harrison visits the historic Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire, where she learns about its history in preparation for giving a guided tour.
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Britain's landscape is littered with fascinating buildings.
to beach huts
and ancient ruins.
On this edition of Countryfile,
we're going to be celebrating the architecture of our countryside.
We'll be camped out at one of Britain's
thousand-odd stately homes.
What better way to get underneath the skin of this place
than by becoming a tour guide for the day here at Sudeley Castle?
There's about 1,000 years worth of history.
How hard can that possibly be to learn(?)
And we'll be rummaging around in the archives to look back
at the most memorable, grand and humble designs
the teams visited.
Matt's in a Northumberland dwelling
that kept the locals safe from invasion.
Can you imagine what it would have been like to live here,
with 300 Armstrongs charging towards you on horseback,
screaming at you to give them everything that you owned?
Julia's exploring a seaside des res.
-There's the Fog House.
-I can see a roof. There she is.
And John's sampling the Georgian good life.
You would have spent time looking out over the sea,
contemplating the beauty of nature and how good life was
-when you have this amount of money.
Hello, everybody, and welcome to Sudeley Castle. My name's Nicola.
I'm going to be your guide for today.
Sudeley Castle sits in the heart of the Cotswolds.
This site has been passed down through royal hands
since the Middle Ages, from Richards to Henrys to Edwards.
The mid-15th century in England, the Wars of the Roses broke out.
I've been told the best way to get to grips
with this place's rich history
is to step into the guide's shoes.
..on this site...
(That's going to be me later. I'd better pay attention.)
(And I want a name badge while I'm at it!)
At some point in its history....
These ruins were once a grand banqueting hall
built by the Duke of Gloucester in the 1400s.
This would have been the most important and magnificent room
in the castle, where all of the monarchs were feted and entertained.
Now, the Duke of Gloucester wasn't always known
as the Duke of Gloucester.
He went on to become something a lot grander.
It was Richard III, "the king in the car park",
as he's probably going to be well known forever now.
Famous visitors to these grounds include Henry VIII and Elizabeth I,
but it was these royal connections
that put the estate in the firing line during the Civil War.
OK, if you all want to just come and stand around here,
that would be great.
Oliver Cromwell's forces ransacked the castle, leaving it in ruins.
The centrepiece is obviously the bed.
Some of you might have spotted the royal coat of arms
in the centre there, and that's because the upper portion of the bed,
including the canopy, formed part of Charles I's campaign bed.
So everywhere that Charles went during the Civil War,
this went too on a horse and cart.
No sleeping bags for him!
This was actually discovered in a cowshed in the 19th century,
so he obviously did flee in a bit of a hurry, didn't he?
Is this room used now by anyone?
Yes, believe it or not, this is still in use as a guest bedroom,
so people do really sleep here.
So there's plenty of history here, then, Nicola.
There certainly is, Ellie. Over 1,000 years of history here.
So it's not just history, it's actually quite juicy history,
isn't it? The good stuff.
Absolutely, yes. We like to keep it real.
Now, I've got my next tour coming up at three o'clock.
-Do you fancy giving it a go?
I mean, yes, of course I do.
Plenty of homework to be getting on with.
Oh, my word! You're kidding me.
-I've got some reading to do.
Well, while Richard III was putting the finishing touches
on this once rather spectacular banqueting hall,
a little bit further up north in the Scottish Borders,
the locals were battening down the hatches
on a fortress of a different kind, as Matt discovered.
I'm in the Northumberland National Park,
the most northern National Park in England.
But for all of its beauty,
Northumberland has been the site of endless wars.
Its landscape is scattered with reminders of the bloody battles.
As evidence of this violent history,
the area has more castles than any other county in England.
Today, I'm going to find out a little bit more about its turbulent past,
and I'm starting my journey here in the Northumberland National Park,
in a place called Tarset,
which is one of the largest parishes in England
with one of the smallest populations.
And you don't say!
There's hardly anybody here.
For its 125 square miles, there are only 120 households.
It may be peaceful now, but for three centuries,
this area was a lawless and violent place to live.
Gangs of Scottish and English families called the Border Reivers
marauded and pillaged in order to survive.
This was a time of bloodshed, of cruelty, of brutality.
A fight for survival, and sudden death.
These neighbours from hell launched bitter feuds
on each other's territory,
pinching their livestock, committing murder,
and generally tearing up the neighbourhood.
These brutes made the cowboys of the Wild West looked like right softies.
The people here had to work hard to earn a living from the land,
and even harder to ward off attackers.
Rob Young's ancestors lived amongst them.
How violent was it?
Yeah, there were a lot of people killed
and lots of animals taken away. I think the statistics...
between 1504 and 1603,
there were something like 1,400 raids recorded.
When did this become a lovely place to live?
In 1609, there was a mass hanging of people over in Carlisle,
I think, and that was when the King put the stamp on the area, really.
Things calmed down after that,
but it's always flared up and there was always trouble.
It was all clan-based, basically, kinship-based,
so if your kinship ties called you out to do a certain job,
you had to go.
-My lot, the Youngs, we were just small bit players.
But Armstrongs and the Percys and the Dodds,
the whole range of family names still around here,
-that were kicking lumps off one another.
-Charlton's very... Yeah, Armstrong.
-All good footballing names as well.
It might have something to do with that, you know.
Remnants of the violent border past can still be seen
in the Northumberland landscape today.
Well, back then, this area was right on the front line.
Can you imagine what it would have been like to live here
with 300 Armstrongs charging towards you on horseback,
screaming at you to give them everything that you owned?
Well, I'm sure you'd agree, you'd batten down the hatches
and you would do on one of these.
It's called a bastle house,
and Alistair Murray is king of the bastle,
and hopefully he's in.
-How you doing, all right?
-Hello, Matt. Nice to see you.
Well, Alistair, I've got to start with the thickness of the walls.
Yeah, the upstairs was actually thinner than downstairs.
-Most of the downstairs was actually in excess of four feet thick.
Now, the obvious thing with this building, it's all about defence.
It was defending your animals and your family.
And how old is this bastle house that we're in now?
Most of them in this valley were built in the late 1500s
through probably to about 1625.
Where would the animals be?
Well, the animals would be down on the ground floor.
The actual farmers would actually live on the first floor,
and the reason being for that
that the heat from the animals down below
-worked like a central heating system.
-Where's the windows?
Well, they deliberately didn't put windows in
because the windows are the weak point. That's a way in.
You had to reduce the number of places
where you could actually get into the building.
'There'd be just one door in the gable end,
'the strongest part of the bastle.'
-Right, yes. Let's have a look at this, then.
-Now, as you can see...
-It's not very wide.
-No, well, the cattle were very small then,
you see, and so were the people.
So a smaller door means there's less opportunity to get in.
Exactly. It's much harder to get into a small doorway.
That's what it's all about, defence.
One of the defensive systems would have been
this thing called a quench hole.
-A quench hole.
Now, what would happen is, at night-time when they went to bed,
they would actually take water up there in buckets,
and if someone tried to set a fire here to burn the door off...
Because this would have been wood.
A wooden door in here, oak door, very thick oak door.
What they would do is, they would pour water in
from the first floor up above,
and it would come down through here,
through the quench hole, and put the fire out.
-Brilliant piece of defensive engineering.
Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire was also built for defence.
It's a historical gem, but it's no museum.
The whole castle is lived in by the Dent-Brocklehurst family -
three generations, including five grandchildren,
all under one large roof.
So who better to give us the grand tour
than the lady of the manor herself, Lady Ashcombe?
We're just coming into the stone drawing room.
Well, this is one of the most interesting rooms in the house.
What I love about it, first of all, is the view, it's spectacular,
and it's so light and it's a beautiful proportion.
This is our worst family room. We meet with our friends here.
We're delighted to have the tour groups come through here.
Sometimes when my grandchildren are here on half term,
they even join the tour groups.
Lucy and my grandsons have been known to show them
his bedroom, which is not all that tidy, but I mean, his train set.
People will see me coming and going through the rooms.
It all feels very reasonably natural and I think, you know,
most people tolerate us, because they know that we live here.
This is our home.
Now, if I hear a tour coming,
I usually beat a bit of a hasty retreat.
And if you follow me, I'll show you where I go,
to my own private sitting room.
This is where I spend most of my time.
When the tours come down the staircase, I can hear them,
particularly because I always hear them laughing, and I wonder,
"What are they laughing about?"
And I finally asked the guide,
"What's so funny when they're coming down the staircase?"
And of course, it's this big life-size baby elephant,
and the guides say that that gives everybody a big chuckle.
This is our family kitchen.
You'll notice that it's filled with family photographs and paintings.
I think it's very cosy.
I think when one lives in a historic house
and a property that's been around for over 1,000 years,
one feels an enormous responsibility towards its preservation,
its...maintaining its integrity,
but it has to be balanced, for me anyway,
that it is our family home,
and that really is very important to me.
It's always nice to have a nosy round someone's house,
like when Julia travelled to Anglesey last November
to take a peek behind the doors of a rather more modest abode.
At Anglesey's western edge lies the Port of Holyhead.
Every year, two million passengers make the crossing
to and from Ireland. Just a few miles away,
the famous South Stack Lighthouse protects it all.
But the lighthouse has a noisy younger brother,
a fog house on the North Stack.
For decades, it's been privately owned,
but recently it's come up for sale, and as it happens,
I'm in the market for something unusual and craggy.
I've arranged a viewing with Philippa Jacobs, who owns the house.
-Suitably miserable weather!
And I understand we got a bit of a journey.
You have, and it's going to be a slippery one for the first bit.
'It's a 20 minute drive from civilisation to get there,
'along a track, if that's what you want to call it.'
-So, how many times do you think you've made this journey?
Hundreds and hundreds. Because you've been at the fog house for how long?
Nearly 24 years.
-Yes, so quite a few journeys,
but I try to limit it these days to about three a week.
-So, 24 years and now you decide it's time to sell?
I mean, it's my age. I don't want to go, obviously.
I mean, I love it here. I've loved every minute of being here.
-How old are you? I know it's rude to ask.
-This is the most bumpy bit.
For me, there's still no sign of the fog house.
Oh, you will see it in a moment.
This is becoming quite ridiculous!
Philippa, look at this!
-There's the fog house.
-I can see a roof.
-There she is.
-There she is.
'The signal station was built in the 1850s
'to send out warning blasts to ships on foggy days.
'Nowadays, Philippa uses it as a studio for her artwork.'
Have a cup of tea, yes.
-We need it today.
So, I'm very impressed with your kitchen.
You've got everything in it. It's very cosy. I'm loving the Aga.
I can see electricity, so you've got power, you've got water.
Yes. But the water is from the roof. You realise that?
We're not on mains water here.
But this water is bought water,
because I didn't want to give you rainwater, because, you know,
the seagulls defecate on the...
SHE LAUGHS Eurgh!
But in the old days of the fog people,
they drank water from the roof all the time.
'With great views, period features and privacy guaranteed,
this three-bed character property is enough
to make any estate agent drool,
and it's a snip at just under £600,000.
Philippa moved into the living quarters in 1989.
I've lived in Hampshire on a farm for many years,
and my husband became terminally ill, sadly,
and so we moved to the town, and though I didn't have a studio,
you see, in the town, and so when, sadly, he died,
I saw this place, an aerial shot of it in the magazine,
in a property magazine, and came up
and immediately fell in love with it
and realised that this was the place.
I was 50 years old at the time,
and I realised that if I didn't do it then,
I wasn't going to do it in another ten years' time, so go for it.
Continuing my tour, Philippa's taking me to the heart of the house.
In the cold way! I don't like it too hot in the studio.
-So this is your place of...
-..work and play and meditation.
-No, not a place of play.
-Not a place of play.
So you don't consider there to be any play in your artistry?
There's no play in the art. There is enjoyment, of course.
You love doing it, but it's a struggle. It's quite a....
You know, you've got to get up every morning
and know that you're going to work,
because a painter, I think, should work as hard as anybody else.
I can't be in the room and not be drawn to that.
This one is of....
This part here is North Stack, is the island,
and this is the race between the island,
and this is the mainland.
And the sea for me is also about an idea.
You can't paint a painting unless you've got an idea behind it.
There's no point in painting something,
and the currents of the sea again are about our lives,
the way we go in this direction, or that.
-Or get pulled in this direction or that.
-And is that where you rest or where you sleep?
-That's where I sleep.
I live in this room. I sleep, work, read, eat,
and the dogs also sleep in here at the same time.
So you like to sleep with your art?
I like to sleep with my paintings, yes.
Phillipa is leaving her mark on the history of the house,
like the fog people before her.
A bank of redundant speakers sit dormant in the fog station.
Now silent, they're a reminder that this place was built to be heard.
I'm not sure I could live here,
but of course, it never used to be a choice. It was a lifestyle.
The man in the picture here is called Derek Lewis,
and he used to be the assistant keeper,
and he's on his way back for a visit for the first time in 50 years.
I wonder what he'll make of the place now.
-Oh, lovely to meet you, Mr Lewis. Do come in.
Hello. You couldn't have picked a better day for it. Come on in.
Derek, this is a real first for you, isn't it?
Because you're in the house as well. That's right.
-You weren't allowed in the house?
Well, first time to be in the house
was in the little shed at the back here.
I used to go down to the fog station about 12 o'clock at night,
down this path, you know, it's very, very...
The lethal path.
And if it was foggy, then I'd start firing,
and I'd be firing, say, till eight o'clock in the morning,
and then I'd stop then and I used to go to sleep
and then the next keeper would take charge then.
-Well, yes, yes.
And not only that, but you have to have these guns blasting away
while you're trying to sleep!
-Yeah, not very restful.
-How's your hearing now?
-Not very good.
Philippa's nearing the end of her time at North Stack,
and so am I, but before I leave,
she wants to show me one more painting.
-There it is.
It's not very artistic, Philippa.
Well, that's what my son said.
I sent him a photograph of it, and he had the audacity to say,
"You didn't do it very neatly, did you, Mother?"
'Well, it could catch a passing sailor's eye.'
Well, I think the people who are looking at this kind of house
are looking for peace,
are looking to get away from the scrum of everyday life.
Here I can see the horizon.
I can see the clouds disappearing below the horizon,
so I know that I'm living on a globe,
and part of a much bigger system.
But in the town, you don't have that sense
of this extraordinary place called Earth.
Philippa's fog house is still looking for a new owner.
But back at Sudeley Castle, I'm off to visit its most famous resident.
She lies in this beautiful 15th century church.
You've all heard of her -
divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.
She is the one that survived.
Catherine Parr, sixth wife of Henry VIII.
How was it that Catherine Parr came to be here?
Well, Henry VIII died at the beginning of 1547,
and only a couple of months later,
Catherine secretly married Thomas Seymour,
and Thomas Seymour was the uncle
of the new nine-year-old king, Edward VI.
And Edward granted Sudeley Castle to Thomas Seymour,
and Thomas Seymour decided that he was going to bring Catherine
to live here, so he had to hastily carry out some building work here
to accommodate a queen dowager, effectively, and her household.
-So how many people did she come with?
-Well, at least 200 people.
Why was the marriage kept secret?
Well, basically, because Catherine was technically
still in mourning for Henry VIII.
-A bit too soon.
-It wasn't the done thing.
-It wasn't the done thing at all, no.
-So was it a great love affair, then?
Is that why they married so quickly?
Absolutely. There'd been talks of marriage before Henry VIII
arrived on the scene. Got this original letter here
that as written by Catherine to Thomas Seymour.
In this, we really do get a glimpse of Catherine's true feelings
towards Seymour, because she says here,
"For as truly as God is God, my mind was fully bent
"the other time I was at liberty to marry you,
"before any man I know.
"Howbeit, God withstood my will most vehemently."
So there, she's really saying,
"Before Henry VIII came along, I really wanted to marry you,
"but God told me I had to do my duty and marry the king."
Her marriage to Thomas Seymour was short-lived.
Less than 18 months after the wedding,
she died after giving birth to a daughter, here at Sudeley Castle.
And Thomas Seymour, did he mourn his marriage greatly?
To be honest, no.
-What a romantic(!)
-I know. Exactly.
He didn't even hang around at Sudeley for the funeral.
And what about her legacy?
She was quite exceptional for the time, wasn't she?
Absolutely. Catherine is highly overlooked
in a lot of respects, I think.
-She wrote two books, and we've got one of them here.
So this one dates from 1546,
and it's called Prayers Or Meditations,
and it's the first book to be written in English
by a Queen of England, and it's aimed at the mass market,
-and it quite quickly becomes a bestseller.
And Henry had also written a book in defence of the Catholic Church,
but that sold zero copies, so...
Catherine remains the only English queen
to be buried on a private estate.
It's incredible to think the remains of a queen
I've heard so much about lie right here.
So while I absorb the atmosphere in the church,
here's what else is coming up in tonight's programme.
Adam's flirting with his betters.
He hasn't kissed me yet, so I'm waiting!
-I can't imagine why not.
I'm having an art lesson in a paper mill.
-Looks like a magic moment.
-There it is.
-Oh, that's lovely!
-Look at that.
-Put that to one side...
And of course, we'll be finding out if spring is in the air,
with the Countryfile weather forecast.
First, though, last summer
John went on the trail of our current queen,
visiting the sites that she saw
on her post-Coronation trip to the Northern Irish coast.
Mile after mile of golden sands, craggy headlands,
ancient ruins and gorse-topped cliffs.
It's a haven for wildlife and walkers alike,
with plenty of lovely spots to stop and enjoy the view.
Like Downhill Beach, which stretches for nearly 10 miles,
making it one of the longest beaches in Europe,
and when the Queen passed by here back in 1953
on her first official tour of Northern Ireland,
the Royal Train stopped at Downhill so Her Majesty could have a picnic.
And as the Queen enjoyed her picnic in the sunshine,
she must have noticed that temple-like building over there,
perched high on the cliff.
But I wonder if anybody told her the fascinating story behind it?
It balances ever closer to the eroding cliffs,
and was built more than 200 years ago by a remarkable man,
Frederick Augustus Hervey, the Protestant Bishop of Derry.
He was much admired locally,
but upset his entire family and the establishment.
He treated his religious duties very lightly,
pursuing the finer things in life,
including the ladies, and building a large art collection.
He then inherited an enormous sum of money, and an earldom.
In a very, very short space of time,
he went from being a humble English clergyman in Suffolk
to being incredibly wealthy,
Richard Branson-esque levels of wealth.
So he had as much money as he wanted
and he could do what he wanted, and what he wanted to do was this.
And why a temple-like building?
He'd been on the grand tour in Italy,
going around admiring architecture and paintings
and buying quite a lot of it, and he spotted a temple in Tivoli,
the Temple of Vesta,
and he decided that he wanted a temple,
and he was going to take it down brick by brick
and bring it back and build it here, but the Pope at the time said no,
-you can't have the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli.
So he got his architect to copy it
and this is a close copy of the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli.
'Named the Mussenden Temple
'as a memorial to female cousin who died while it was being built,
'it became a dominant feature on the bishop's estate,
'and was used mainly for entertaining.'
Wow. This is impressive, isn't it?
Wonderful harp music to greet us as well!
-Very atmospheric, isn't it?
And how would it have looked in the bishop's day?
What you're seeing now is the bare brick that would have been
underneath lovely plasterwork.
There would have been columns, pillars, bookshelves,
paintings, fine furnishing.
It would have been very, very opulent and luxurious.
So it certainly wasn't a folly,
it was a building that was put to use?
Yes, you could have come here and read your books
and enjoyed whatever music was being played.
You would have spent time looking out over the sea,
contemplating the beauty of nature
and how good life was when you had this amount of money.
Bishop Hervey spent much of his later life travelling around Europe,
but when he was here at Downhill,
his guests would have been serenaded much like this.
This harp looks very familiar.
Well, you obviously take a drink if you've spotted that, because...
-Little bit of Irish stout now and again.
The shape of this harp is very, very typical of this area,
and what was called the Downhill harp,
a harp left by one of the harpists who actually used to play here
ended up in Dublin at quite a famous brewery,
and ended up as the symbol of a certain beverage.
So that's the harp on the label, is it?
Yes, indeed. Makes you feel quite thirsty looking at it, doesn't it?
It certainly does.
The temple stands in splendid isolation just a short distance
from the grand house that the bishop built for himself,
and from the back here, it looks rather like a fortified castle.
'But from the front, there's a surprise -
'it's in the style of a Georgian mansion.
'Now it's just a shell,
'and it really is hard to imagine how grand
'this place used to be in its heyday.
'Luckily, these university students
'have been meticulously gathering information
'about every tiny corner of the house
'to help us get a better picture of two centuries ago.
The house has been in ruins for years now.
The roof was taken off, more's the pity,
because it's pouring down now.
This, would you believe, used to be the drawing-room.
So Peter, how on earth are you and your team restoring this place?
Well, first of all, on a computer.
The students went out, they did a lot of research, photography,
and they drew sketches, plans, floor plans.
Another one of the students collated all that into...
Wow, that's really impressive, isn't it?
..research, which I would then build on the computer.
So that's the house as it was in the bishop's time.
-That's the house as it was around the 1800s.
-What about the inside?
Well, this shot here is the gallery,
which is just looking down towards the sea.
And that's where he kept all his fine paintings?
All his paintings, statues,
his whole art collection was housed in there, in fact.
And he had Titians, I think, and Rembrandts...
-You name it.
-And now it's just in ruins.
-It's just four walls, really.
With his keen eye for the arts and for science,
as well as for the ladies,
Bishop Hervey certainly used his vast wealth
to enjoy life to the full, but he could never have guessed
that his extravagant monument would one day serve as a backdrop
for a queen having a picnic down on the beach.
Tending to Sudeley Castle gardens is all about preserving their history,
nowhere more so than in the ruins of Richard III's banqueting hall.
And when you've got friends in high places, as does Lady Ashcombe,
you can call in the big guns to sculpt your lawns.
'Like star garden designer Sir Roddy Llewellyn.'
-Sir Roddy, hello.
-Very nice to meet you.
So tell me what are your plans for this amazing site?
Well, now, it's a very romantic place, Sudeley Castle.
It's got a fantastically rich history,
and one of the most important historical events
actually took place where we stand.
This is where Lord Chandos, who owned the place at the time,
was sitting in his chair, OK?
And he heard in the background the hooves of Cromwell's troops...
-..arriving, and so he ran away,
but he left his cloak on the back of the chair,
-which is represented by this red rose...
-..which comes out in the summer.
Also, this fireplace, we're going to...
..we're going to bring to life again. We're going to re-enact flames...
..with nasturtiums and other flowers
-with a sort of flame red, strong red flowers.
I'm going to lay this down to look like a rug. Rather fun.
-I've never seen it done before.
Gardening's sort of theatre, actually. It should be.
And we're going to re-enact....
We're going to bring a lot of theatre back into the place
to tell its history.
The oldest and best of all the landscape philosophies
is the ancient Chinese, who said,
"A walk around a garden should prove to be an exciting journey."
And that's exactly what happens when you come here.
So we'll see some blooms, hopefully, this summer,
if we get some good weather.
Yes. Gosh, I hope we don't have a summer like last summer.
I cried for about 12 months.
It was very expensive on handkerchiefs.
I feel your pain!
-Please, let's do a sundance, shall we?
'I can't imagine a nicer back garden.'
Well, Adam also got a taste of the good life
when he put on his Sunday best and went to visit
the lady of the house in Derbyshire's grand Renishaw Hall.
This was once a green oasis surrounded by industrial workings.
There were ironworks and coal mines, and as they closed down,
it returned to its green glory.
The hall was built by George Sitwell in the 17th century.
He'd made his money from the local industry
as an ironmaster, mining, casting
and exporting products around the world.
The hall is open to visitors,
but it's still very much a family home,
with all the personal touches and some quirky stuff too.
Take a look at this - someone left their glasses behind in 1969,
and he's never been back to pick them up.
Renishaw has been owned by the same family
since it was built nearly 400 years ago.
The latest owner is Alexandra Sitwell.
What a remarkable dining room! You could have some parties in here.
Well, we certainly have done.
We've had some really good parties in here.
And how long has the family been here?
Well, the family has been here in this current house since 1600,
but Sitwells have always been wandering around this area,
and this particular room was the first addition
to the old house in 1793, and it was built by my ancestor over there,
Sir Sitwell Sitwell, the one on the right.
Wonderful portraits. And these are mainly family members, are they?
These are all family members, and in fact,
the boy in pink up there,
Sacheverell, closely related to the Sitwell family,
and he is supposed to haunt the house, and he supposed to
kiss the ladies with cold, wet kisses from beyond the grave.
Oh, goodness me! Does that worry you?
Not at all. He hasn't kissed me yet, so I'm waiting.
THEY LAUGH I can't imagine why!
Renishaw has quite a literary history.
It was the setting for DH Lawrence's controversial novel
Lady Chatterley's Lover.
It was also home to the Sitwell Trio.
Siblings Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell were prolific writers,
poets and patrons of the arts.
So, this is the library,
where we spend most of our time in the evenings.
And we've got something like 3,000 books in this room.
-There are about 25,000 in the whole house.
On these shelves, these are all first edition books
by Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell.
Now, I'm no literary expert,
but even I've heard of the Sitwell name,
and they were very important in their time, weren't they?
Well, they were very avant-garde,
and they were really leaders of the 20th century movement
of not only, obviously, literature and poetry,
but also the arts, so great collectors,
and they supported the ballet and music,
and they sort of blazed a trail.
Another of Alexandra's ancestors holds a unique British record.
Around a couple of hundred years ago, a Royal Bengal tiger escaped
from someone's private zoo collection in Sheffield
and Sitwell Sitwell got together his gardeners and local farmers
and they set off on horseback with the hounds
to track it down and kill it.
It's the only recorded tiger hunt on British soil.
No tigers in the woods today,
but head gardener David and his team are in there,
clearing an invasive rhododendron from the woodland
to help a spring favourite.
-What are you trying to achieve here, then?
I'm trying to get back to a native bluebell wood.
And is that what you've done up this part of the wood?
Yeah. Over the years, we've steadily cleared down
through Broxhill Wood to make space
-for the native bluebells to take over.
-Are they quite a good attraction for the visitors?
Yeah, I mean, it's a beautiful time of year anyway,
and, yes, they bring people to Renishaw,
-because it's a fantastic wood.
-And are they predictable?
Do you have a certain few weeks that there are in flower?
Oh, they're a nightmare.
They're in flower for about three weeks,
but what three weeks, it can vary.
So people might get here too early or they might get here too late.
-Best to ring in advance.
And how quickly will the bluebells move into this area?
Some have survived.
There's some here that were underneath the rhododendron canopy,
but they self-seed pretty freely. I'd say about three to four years,
you won't know it from the rest of it.
Chick, chick, chick!
I know what you're thinking -
I'm not cramming for my guiding exams,
but I can assure you,
this is all part of the Sudeley Castle experience.
As well as the 11 family members,
the estate is also home to 15 rare breeds of pheasant
from all over Asia.
Oh, and an eagle owl.
And these two beautiful snowy owls.
This is Tom Seymour and Catherine Parr, of course.
Gary Cope has trained them,
much like a hawk or falcon, to come to the glove for food.
-Tom is a bit lazy, you see.
Gary, that's fabulous.
I've had a go at this sort of thing before, but never with owls.
Why have you trained them in this way, to do this?
Well, I haven't trained them, really. They're just conditioned.
I'm the keeper for the owls, and we had these at six weeks old,
and they've just got used to me coming in every day and feeding them.
I think they've basically become partially imprinted on me.
-They look upon me as Mummy.
-So that's what you're hearing.
-They're just food digging.
-Wow, what a gem to have them here.
Lucky for the people to come and see them.
Sudeley's proportions are grand, but on Countryfile,
it's not all about size.
Last spring, Matt travelled to the Suffolk coast
to see some seaside posh pads,
with rather more humble dimensions.
A pretty special seaside town.
No "kiss me quick" hats here.
Rather, the refined air you'd expect from somewhere
that's made its name as an expensive retreat
for the well-heeled and wealthy.
Sounds delightful, doesn't it? A lovely place to live.
And apparently, there's a right little gem of a property
just along here. Bags of character, far-reaching views,
and buyers are dying to get hold of it,
but I've got the details, and I've booked myself
an appointment with the estate agent.
So, Aidan, here we are at beach hut 98B.
-That's the one.
But look where it is!
Steps up to the town, you're right on the beach,
the outlook is stunning, and it's Southwold.
What more do you want for your holiday?
-Yeah, I agree, the location is pretty special.
-Are we allowed to have a look inside?
Most of the huts are sold with contents. They vary, of course.
Oh, right! That's quite a nice surprise, that.
-Do come in.
It's quite deceiving from the outside.
They are TARDIS-like. Don't we always hear that?
But you get the day bed, there's usually a little Calor stove,
-as we've got here.
-Where's the nearest loo?
Only about 100 yards in either direction.
100 yards, I mean, it's nothing, really, is it?
Right, well, here's you giving me the hard sell, but actually,
you don't have to, because you've got a waiting list for these things.
They go so quickly, usually.
Very often they don't even come to the market, in fact,
because they'll change hands within families,
family groups, social groups. Lots of people are waiting for them.
And you'll get this pretty close to the asking price at 55,000?
Yeah, yeah. Three price bands, really, in the town.
If you go to the prime location...
-Don't tell me, there's more.
-Oh, there's more.
Right up there, Gun Hill, prime Southwold,
and they've changed hands for 120,000.
-For a shed this big?!
-What a bargain(!)
Shall I get the contract?
-Er, not just yet.
'I might not be sold,
'but there's no denying the enduring appeal of these huts.
'For some of Southwold's residents,
'they've been a lifetime love affair
'since their very first incarnations.'
I tell you what, Jack. You were a bonny lad.
How old were you here?
Well, I was one. 1919.
-A bit before your time.
-A little bit!
And that was my mother and I
-in a bathing machine.
Was that on this beach somewhere, then?
Yes, it was down near the old pier.
In the days when the bathing machine
was taken down to the edge of the sea by a horse.
These bathing machines were the forerunners of beach huts,
and were designed to protect the modesty of changing swimmers.
But as more relaxed attitudes brought in mixed bathing,
they began to be used for shelter and storage instead.
Eventually, they disappeared from the shoreline altogether,
evolving into the static huts on the promenade that we know today.
They haven't really changed that much, have they?
Is that part of the magic for you, then, how basic they are?
Yes, I think it's...
Well, it's just part of Southwold.
There's a lot of hassle and a lot of expense
in connection with a beach hut nowadays,
but once you get in that hut,
when the sun is shining from the east into the hut,
you enter another world.
'Back in 1919, when Jack first visited Southwold,
'there were only a handful of beach huts here.
'It's a testament to their timeless charm that today
'there are 300 of them, and counting.
'And with summer fast approaching,
'proud owners like Ken Waters
'are busy preparing for a season in the sun.'
-Now then, Ken, how you doing?
-Hi. Fine, thank you.
-Yes, indeed, thank you.
-What a bonny beach hut you've got here.
It's lovely, yeah.
We've enjoyed this hut for many, many years.
Is this annual maintenance, then? Because, obviously...
About every other year. It's pretty harsh.
There were quite a few lost a few years ago.
We had a big storm, which came up
and swept about 12 of them away totally.
Some of them landed up in Dunwich.
-Did they really?
-But otherwise in bits.
But we were lucky.
So here we are, we're painting this white
-and you've got some black wood stain as well.
-Yes, that's right.
Are you restricted with the colours?
-Are there any guidelines from the council?
Some people have them candy striped,
and some people have them just in pastel colours.
Little children come along and they shout out all the names
as they come along, which is also very nice.
-And what's the name of yours?
-It's called Watershed.
Which was...my name being Waters, and it is a shed.
And so, hearing these ridiculous prices these days,
-are you tempted to sell?
-Not a chance. No, no.
-Not a chance.
-I think the children wouldn't forgive me.
So she's part of the family, then?
Yes, I think that's right, yes, yes.
It would be desperate times if we ever had to sell this.
'I might not have been tempted into buying my own beach hut,
'but I've certainly bought into the simple pleasures
'that owning one can bring.
'Beautiful views, and your own piece of the great British seaside.
'What could be better?'
Willy, Willy, Harry, Ste, Harry, Dick, John, Harry III...
Well, it's nearly time for me to step up to the plate
as Sudeley tour guide, and I have to say,
I'm really nervous.
So while I do all this last-minute cramming,
let's find out what the weather has in store for the week ahead.
Willy, Willy, Harry, Ste...
How does this help you remember anything? Who's Ned the Lad?
This week's Countryfile is celebrating
our countryside's fascinating architecture.
I've been set the challenge of leading a tour group
here at Sudeley Castle, and there's no delaying it any longer.
Just time, though, for one last-minute transformation.
There you go.
Not quite standard Countryfile uniform, but it'll do, I think.
-I've got your badge here for you.
-Oh, look at that!
You're now officially a guide.
-Yeah. How are you feeling?
-You'll be fine.
-I'm dreading it, honestly.
-Just stick to the facts.
Don't embellish anything, and if you don't know the answer,
don't be afraid to say, "I'm not sure about that."
-No making it up?
-No making it up.
That's what novels are for.
-Top tips all round.
Oh, I just want to get it over with.
-Let's crack on.
'Well, the crowds are gathering, so as I steady my nerves,
'there's just time to see me in somewhat calmer days,
'when I took a trip to an Exmoor mill
'dealing in flowers, not flour.'
-Do you mind if I pick a few bits and pieces?
-Yeah, that's fine.
I've come to a local herb farm to gather some ingredients.
'The natural environment here is providing the materials
'for a cottage industry making something you'd least expect.'
This borage is in flower now.
A bit of rosemary. That should liven things up.
Check out the haul I've got. Not bad, eh?
'Believe it or not, I'm going to turn these herbs
'into something we use every day.'
But this is no ordinary paper you'd write your shopping list on.
At this old wood mill, Neil Hopkins makes top-quality paper
using strictly traditional methods.
-Neil, how you doing?
I brought the ingredients you suggested.
I heard you were bringing something.
Can you really do something with that and turn it into paper?
-We certainly can. Very lovely smelling herbs.
Well, I've also got this, but I'm very unsure about this -
a pair of jeans.
This is actually a very good ingredient to put into paper.
It will make a lovely sheet of blue watercolour paper
that a watercolourist would be so happy to work on.
'First, we pick the florets and pretty leaves from the herbs.
'Then, in a matter of seconds,
'these unloved denims have been torn and cut into pieces.'
There goes my pair of jeans.
The jeans are shredded in the rag breaker
and turned into a jean soup,
which is added to a mix of cotton, linen and water.
Whoa! A grey, mushy pulp.
The next job is the hard bit, which I think you ought to do, don't you?
We've got to mix it round.
-With this oar?
-Yes, just an old canoe paddle.
So the paper that we're going to produce now,
how does that differ from the paper that most people ordinarily use?
We make a lot of papers for artists, and if they're selling paintings,
some of them do sell paintings, they're very valuable.
Over time, if you make them on wood pulp,
they will actually self-destruct,
-so we make a paper that's archival, and it will last 2,000 years.
-So what's next?
-..those lovely flowers and herbs jealous morning.
So what do we do with these?
Just sprinkle a few over the top
where we're going to make the sheet in a moment.
So this is kind of artistic merit in the paper, isn't it?
It doesn't change the construction of the paper, particularly?
No, it doesn't. You could have an interesting effect
that some painter might want to work upon.
-Have I put too many in?
-Yeah, that's about right, actually.
-There's quite a few.
The next thing is making the paper, and to make the paper,
you need one of these.
It's a papermaking mould, and it's just a mesh. It's a sieve.
Dip it underneath those flowers
and then just bring it up in a smooth action.
-That's it. Now get it straight and bring it up.
-It's pretty heavy, isn't it?
-It's heavier than you think, isn't it?
Really heavy, actually.
And then we need to move over here, because this table is a vacuum table,
and it will suck the water out of there.
-This is like a magic moment.
-There it is.
-Oh, that's lovely!
-Look at that.
-Put that to one side.
It's really rather attractive already.
'This is the last commercial hand paper mill in the country,
'so Neil's keeping a tradition alive.
'The paper is still too damp to handle,
'so most of the remaining water is pressed out of it.'
I'm looking forward to seeing this. The moment of truth.
-Lift the blanket.
Oh, well, that's lovely, isn't it? Gosh, how pretty.
Can you touch it yet?
You can, and I think if you flip that sheet over,
I think you'll get a nice surprise when you see the other side.
Oh, yeah, isn't that pretty, all the flowers coming through?
Oh, that's delightful.
'Artist Jennie Hale's been using Neil's paper for many years.'
-Mind if I join you?
-Yeah, do, do.
-Have a seat.
-What are you painting?
-Oh, yes. What a good spot for it, too.
Oh, it's fantastic, isn't it? Beautiful with a stream beside it.
-And that's Neil's paper.
-And what about Neil's paper?
How is that for you as an artist?
It really makes the colours stand out.
The way he makes it makes the colours really sparkle.
It's just beautiful paper to work on.
-These pictures are gorgeous.
-Thank you, thank you.
'At Sudeley Castle, it's time to face the troops. Here goes.'
Hello, everybody, and welcome to Sudeley Castle
on this fine, spring weather day.
So, shall we head off?
So, Sudeley Castle was a stronghold during the Civil War.
Lord Chandos, who owned the place at the time,
decided to side with the king.
Turns out that was a bad move, because before long,
Oliver Cromwell's men became...
galloping, ransacking castles.
They could hear them up the drive,
shouts and screams and dogs and women screaming.
Yeah. Ellie, remember what I said about not embellishing.
Not sure about that bit.
If you imagine that bit, that might have happened.
'Oops! Not off to the best of starts.'
Another nice feature about the stone being exposed
is that there are some masons' marks just above the doorway over there.
Masons would leave their own mark as a way of...
-(So that their employer would know how much to pay them.
..as a way of invoicing their employer,
so they knew how much to pay them.
27 varieties of flower.
17th century pornography. Shall we move on?
So what would have happened if I was the butler
and this was a table with fine diners eating is,
I could have stood discreetly here,
and without being rude and peering over shoulders
to see what was going on on plates,
I could have checked in the mirror to see whether they'd finished
their meal and knew that it was time to have the table cleared.
I'm really glad that's over, Nicola!
Oh, Ellie. I thought you did a really fantastic job. Thank you so much.
You're very kind. Your job is safe forever and ever,
as far as I'm concerned.
-Are you sure?
-Yeah. I'll keep this as a memento, though.
-Yes, please do.
-Thank you very much.
Well, thankfully for me, that's it
for this special edition of Countryfile,
and next week I'll be at Newmarket, the home of racing,
to get a sneak peek behind the scenes.
And John will be finding out about John Clare,
England's first green poet.
See you then. Bye-bye.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Ellie Harrison visits the historic Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire, which is hundreds of years old and has seen many kings and queens of England pass through its doors.
Ellie finds out what it takes to be a tour guide at the castle; she has to learn her facts, as she is due to lead the final tour of the day. Ellie finds out about the history of the castle including how Henry VIII's widow, Katharine Parr, came to be buried in the church there.
She also takes a tour of the gardens and meets garden designer Sir Roddy Llewellyn to find out what he has in store for the historic gardens. She meets some of the feathered residents who now live at the castle, from barn owls to snowy owls, and from eagle owls to a rare collection of pheasants.
Throughout the programme, Ellie delves back into the Countryfile archives to dig out some of the best stories which showcase our country's rural architecture. Matt Baker explores the bastle houses of Northumberland, Julia Bradbury meets the resident of a Fog House on the Anglesey coast, and John Craven is with a harpist in the Mussenden Temple in Northern Ireland.