Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Holiday Postcards

We have been away, staying close to the W.Somerset/N.Devon borders. Just as we left home, our lovely warm 'Indian Summer' slipped away, replaced by more typically late September weather. Following a hearty breakfast at the hotel, sufficient to sustain us throughout the whole day, we set off in search of the tiny village of Selworthy. Sitting snuggled within a deeply wooded hillside, in a timeless rural landscape of thatched cottages, a medieval church, and enjoying sweeping views across the Vale of Porlock to Exmoor. 


You could be forgiven for thinking that the village of Selworthy appears to have a faux appearance, and it is true that the thatched cottages are certainly far younger than the medieval church, but they are still 200 years old. They were built in the 1820s by Sir Richard Acland in order to house both the aged and infirm who had worked for him on his Holnicote Estate. During the early reign of Queen Victoria, many wealthy employers looked after their staff really well.

The cottages nestle together around a small village green halfway up the steep hillside. They are all painted in a shade of ochre, one is now a small cafe, another has a gallery, one of the cottages can be rented for holidays, and the rest are privately owned. The surrounding woods have lots of walks meandering through them revealing interesting places to explore, including the ancient earthworks of Bury Castle, a memorial hut erected in 1878 to Sir Thomas Dyke Acland by his youngest son, and by walking to the top of the escarpment it is possible to find yourself on the 630 mile long S.W. coastal Path, now internationally familiar to the many who have read Raynor Winn's book, The Salt Path. 














If you have not been inside an English thatched cottage then there is a tendency to imagine that they are probably extremely dark, small, and gloomy inside.
This is Ivy's Cottage - you can peep inside here.  It is rented out by the National Trust. I am not advocating the cottage, this is simply so that you can see what a small thatched cottage can look like inside.

39 comments:

  1. It really does give one the impression of a storybook town, something created by the illustrator of a Beatrix Potter book perhaps. Your camera must have been red hot, Rosemary, as you meandered round this area, no doubt working off your giant breakfast!

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    1. There's no snacking when you have a good breakfast, which I don't normally. I thought I might have put on weight what with the breakfast and the evening meals, but happily I didn't.

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  2. Oh my, those little yellow thatched cottages are absolutely gorgeous! Who would not want to spend their old age in such pretty surroundings. I followed the link, and the interior does look light, bright and modern. Looking across to Exmoor reminds me I recently re-read Lorna Doone during our lockdown, and loved the adventures taking place around the area in that historic novel.

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    1. Dear Patricia - you have preempted me - I am off to Doone Valley next time, and hope that you will join me there.

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  3. Wow, that was NOT what I was expecting the inside of that cottage to look like!

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  4. Dearest Rosemary,
    That is indeed a nicely tucked away, tiny village in a cozy setting amidst lush gardens.
    In my home town we have several thatched roof cottages, larger ones and we even had one where as a young girl I had to fetch milk, walking distance from our home. So I'm very familiar with their insides too.
    That was indeed a very kind way of taking care of their aging servants, having them live nearby!
    Glad you managed to visit.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - yes, these are just small cottages to house elderly people. We do have very large thatched properties here too.
      It is interesting that Pieter too, lived in a thatched cottage when he was a young boy.

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  5. Forgot to mention, that Pieter is born in a 17th Century thatched cottage... it got severely destroyed during the end of WWII and they had to move into a new home.

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  6. Dear Rosemary, Wouldn't it be loverly to visit and rent such a beautiful spot and cottage...I'm tempted.

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    1. Dear Gina - it is a charming little spot and I should imagine that you could have a very relaxing holiday there too.

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  7. thank you so much for sharing - I've just had an incredible mini-vacation away from it all without leaving my home Across The Pond. we stayed in a small thatched cottage when in the UK - nothing as beautiful as this. due to Covid, since we aren't free to travel, I've very much enjoyed this imaginary trip to visit.

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    1. Thank you very much for your visit, and I am really pleased that you enjoyed your imaginary trip with me.

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  8. I know it very well as I used to lead walks for HF Holidays from nearby Holnicote House. There's a special little balcony inside the church just above the door, it was built for Sir Thomas so that he could slip into church late as he always used to get held up by his old employees as he made his way to church.

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    1. The church notice board said that the church is normally open, but sadly it wasn't.

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  9. These are delightful cottages...and it's great that they have still thatched roofs. How very picturesque this post is. Thanks a lot for taking photos of a place I won't ever get to, but would love to know exists!

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    1. Thatched cottages are very common in this area, and very few of them have actually had their thatch replaced.

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  10. It is all delightful - thanks for sharing.

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  11. Smashing area that. I loved exploring Devon,Cornwall, and the Home Counties in my 20s and 30s yet the main view of my hill-walking friends then was total bemusement and "Why?" but I like all landscapes and areas of the UK. And after 18 cold damp Scottish summers the south feels like the tropics by comparison as its often 10 to 15 degrees warmer.

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    1. From the weather reports this summer that certainly appears to have been true, as it has been very hot and balmy down here for weeks on end. However, when we lived in Milngavie I do record that when Scotland did have a heatwave, it could be very, very, hot.
      My in-laws came to visit us in May one year, and the weather turned scorching hot, and they spent all of their time seeking shade. My MiL came saying if it is this hot in Scotland whatever is it like in Surrey? I told her "it is probably raining in Surrey".

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  12. What a sweet village! The cottages are very storybook, indeed. Your last pic is interesting. I hadn't realised thatch could get mossy; it gives it a whole other dimension.

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    1. I too was surprised at just how mossy some of the thatch was - perhaps because the properties were completed surrounded in a dell by some very high trees that may have been the root cause of it.

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    2. I think that’s right. Ours is getting mossy now too on one side, the more shady side. In the heat of summer it burns off almost completely but as we’re in autumn and rain is more frequent it’s something we’ll have to get used to for a while. If we have the thatcher in he combs it all off but there’s a limit to how often you can do that without damaging the roof. Part of the joy of living in damp Devon!

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    3. That's right Jessica - from photos you have shown, your property also appears to be sited in a fairly similar position having large trees surrounding it.

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  13. The beautiful thatched cottages showed that occasionally even a capitalist could care for his workers.

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    1. It is a pity that today's wealthy entrepreneurs are not more generous to their loyal workers.
      Here we have several complete towns and large communities that were built during Victoria's reign for the workers, especially successful Quaker families - Cadburys, Fry's, Bourneville, Port Sunlight, and Saltaire to name just a few.

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  14. Love to see thatched cottages, to me it's very English.
    With the lights on inside there is 'light' and the windows placed in the right place.
    Interesting to read about if you worked some someone (I presume most of your life) they then looked after you till you pass on...
    Lovely post Rosemary.

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    1. As I mentioned to Hels Margaret, it is a pity that more do not do the same today. Many entrepreneurs today seem to find it necessary to surround themselves with luxurious properties, cruise ships, private planes etc rather than look after those who have helped them to build up their wealth.

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  15. What a beautiful cottage to rent, something I’d love to do. It looks like a great place to be on holiday. Have you read Gaynor Winn’s latest book which is a follow up to The Salt Path? B x

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    1. I haven't read her latest book, although I do intend to get it. I am too mean to buy the hardback book, so am waiting until the paperback comes out, which I believe will not be until next May.

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  16. Have you seen the gardener's cottage at The Newt? I think they shared it with about 7 children.

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    1. No, I have never been there, but now that you have mentioned, it is somewhere that I will definitely try to visit next time I am down that way.

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  17. Dear Rosemary - What a picturesque village! This is my ideal tour in England. The thatched roof houses look quite different from those of Japan. The inside I peeped into from the link looks bright, simple, clean, and cozy. I'm happy for you that you could have such a nice trip.

    Yoko

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