Exploring Royal Histories

Well on the way on our adventure in England with friends Suzanne and Pat Moeller – we left York and drove south to Nottingham, checking into a wonderful Victorian house hotel. It has a solid sliding fence that admits you to the car park in a lovely garden. We strolled down to the High Street to a pub with wonderful grub. Once we got back to our lodging, we slept like the dead!

The next morning, we had a delicious English breakfast in the solarium with trees and flowers around us. Then, we were off to Bolsover, perched high above the Vale of Scarsdale, the site of a medieval fortress and extraordinary 17th century aristocratic retreat.

Riding House has remarkable wall paintings and is the oldest building in England to still be completely intact, even if it is dilapidated. It was built in the 11th century by William Pavane, one of William the Conqueror’s knights, but became neglected in the 14th century.

Its ruins provided the setting for the Little Castle begun in 1612 by Sir Charles Cavendish as a retreat from his principal seat at Walbeck. When he died, his son William – playboy, poet and later Duke of Newcastle – inherited it and completed the interiors. In 1634, he hosted Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria. During the civil wars, he was defeated at the battle of Marston Moor in 1644 and went into exile. He returned in 1660 and rebuilt, but it declined under his son. By 1770, it was in ruins. In 1946, it was given to the Ministry of Work and now is in the care of English Heritage.

On to Chatsworth, home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, set in Derbyshire’s magnificent Peak District. One of Britain’s greatest historic homes offers beautiful rooms, famous works of art, a 105-acre formal garden, farmyard and enough deer to feed all of Jefferson County!

Next, Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill, home of the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. (The younger brother of the Duke was a fraternity brother of Brad’s at Vanderbilt.) The family has lived here for over 300 years with more than 2,000 acres of landscaped parkland and formal gardens. This is the 300th anniversary of “Capability Brown,” who spent 11 years re-landscaping the Parkland there.

The next day was vastly different. We went to Hidcote, our favorite garden. It was created by Lawrence Johnston. In 1948, he gave it to the National Trust. It took him 30 years to transform some fields containing a few trees into one of the country’s great arts-and-crafts gardens. He carefully designed the garden space to slowly unfold, revealing a different atmosphere or new vista at every turn.

Plants grow in a jumble. Flowering shrubs mingle with roses. Climbers scramble over hedges and seedlings come up wherever they chose to sow themselves. He traveled to faraway places such as South Africa and China in search of new and rare plants, bringing back only the finest to grow there. Fellow collectors also sent interesting specimens from their expeditions to South and North America.

The various gardens are white, maple, alpine, winter, poppy and hydrangea. There is a bathing pool garden, stilt garden, alpine terrace, fuchsia garden, wilderness, bulb slope, great lawn, pine garden, lily pool, beech alee, tennis court and so much more. It is a major garden.

From Hidcote, it was on to Oxford, Windsor and Hampton Court. More next week.

In the meantime, see you at…


CASA, which supports abused and neglected children in the area, will host its fourth Bourbon by the Bridge on the Great Lawn on Saturday, June 11 from 6 to 9 p.m. The event will raise awareness and funds to help hundreds of abused and neglected children in Louisville.

Over 350 participants came last year, enjoying tastings from multiple distilleries. This year, Angel’s Envy, Barton 1792, Boundary Oak Distillery, Buffalo Trace, Copper & Kings, Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Jefferson’s, Michter’s, Rivulat, Town Branch, Wild Turkey, Willett and Woodford Reserve are participating.

You will be able to talk with distillery staff, enjoy hors d’oeuvres by Ladyfingers, jazz by John Scharffenberg’s Band and visit with friends. The fun day is presented by Stoll, Keenon and Ogden and supported by Kosair Charities. For tickets, visit bourbonbythebridge.com. VT