A mini-Bach Choir plus assorted guests went on a day out to the north-Norfolk coast last Sunday. We went to Thornham for a quick rehearsal in the church, then down to Houghton Hall to see the obligatory stately pile. As you can see, my shoes and their fountain were exactly the same colour. They had a very tasty cafe (if rather expensive) in converted part of the stables.
There were also a number of art installations throughout the grounds. This one was a vast circle of piled slate. Um, ok. Made for neat pictures looking back at the house, though.
The Cholmondeley (pronounced CHUM-ley, obviously) family still live in the house, so we went through the 10-or-so staterooms open to the public. There were some extraordinary tapestries with incredibly fine needlework, and an entrance hall that reminded me of the main hall at The Breakers in Newport. You walk in, you gasp, you look up, your mouth drops open, and you look around in disbelief. I imagine Mr Vanderbilt was well aware of Houghton Hall (and would be pleased at the comparison).
I mean, seriously. This is the fruit cage. You know, the little tent with mesh where you grow your raspberries to keep the birds out. I thought the steel walk-in one my father-in-law welded together was intense. It's got NOTHING on this one.
After our dash through the rest of the gardens (which I'd highly recommend), we went back to Thornham for evensong. Most of the village appeared to have turned out for the evensong, which was really nice - the church was reasonably full. The vicar was great - if you look in the encyclopedia under English Country Vicar, he'll be there, waving at you, complete with booming BBC English. Loved it.
We then retired to a well-scouted and extremely delicious supper at the Briarfields Hotel, followed by a surprisingly short coach ride back to Bury. It was a VERY long day but we all really enjoyed ourselves.
And the sun even came out in the evening!