Holiday: Shropshire – Day 1

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Sunday, 24th April

Morning Reader! 👍

The view through the lounge window

We arrived here at our holiday home The Tractor Shed in Kinnerley yesterday. As we don’t know this part of the world at all (I think the last time we were in Shropshire was back in November 2006 for a pre-Christmas break), we’re firmly in ‘explorer mode’ to soak up as much of the area as possible! So, after breakfast, we took the short 20-ish mile drive to National Trust’s Erddig and then onto Chirk Castle.

Missed yesterday’s ‘arrival’ Post? – Shropshire in a shed!

That’ll do nicely

Well, it looks like a nice day for it. The sun is already shining and it’s only 8am! Passports at the ready as we head for the border (“there be dragons!”) and the two NT properties. First up – Erddig!

National Trust’s Erddig

11.10am: Erddig is a Grade1 listed property located in Wrexham, Wales that follows an 18th-century design. The estate goes back to the 1680s and consists of a country house and a 1200-acre estate including a landscaped pleasure park and the earthworks of a Norman motte-and-bailey castle too! The Yorke family lived at Erddig for over 250 years and their claim to fame was they never threw anything away! As a result, the Estate boasts NT’s second-largest collection of ‘stuff’ – some 30,000 items! (and ‘no’, I don’t know who has the largest!). 🤔

The House has been restored in a way that “the family would recognise”. In practical terms, this meant it hasn’t been over-restored to perfection, instead, it promised that it would look authentic for a particular period of time during the Yorke’s residency.

By the time we arrived, it was already very busy (even though the House didn’t open until 12.30pm).

So, in the meantime, we looked around the courtyard…

…and then the grounds…

The grounds were very impressive, and we could now see why this place was so busy! (Apparently, gates open at a frighteningly early 8am!). Our next stop was the House itself, but we were slightly early, so we took a look around the stable area. 👍

Not only were there plenty of horsey-related bits and bobs, as expected but slightly surprisingly, there was a small collection of old cars in varying states of refurbishment. If that wasn’t enough variety of transport, there was also a rusting collection of bikes, including a penny-farthing.

12.29pm: In a radical move for the NT, they opened a full 60 seconds early – you don’t often see that! ⏰ There was quite a queue, but we were soon inside.

We began ‘below stairs’ where it all looked pretty authentic (if a little shabby). Maybe that was a deliberate plan as part of NOT over-restoring the property!

A useful timeline, but why is it called ‘Erddig’?
You rang m’Lady?

As we said goodbye to where all the hard work was done, we headed upstairs to more luxurious surroundings…

Given that the outside of the property had created so much of an impact with us, the interior felt a little bit of a let-down. Yes, it was posh, no, I couldn’t afford any of it, but it just lacked something! I was also a bit disappointed that there didn’t seem to be much evidence of those 30000 items that the family, through the generations, had hoarded.

So, all-in-all: fantastic grounds, but the House was a bit lack-lustre and we didn’t have time to find the advertised earthworks!

Next stop? Chirk Castle, just 9 miles away.

National Trust’s Chirk Castle

Now that’s what I call a castle!
Learned my first Welsh word today: ‘Coffi’ – it translates to Coffee! (Surely, it’s not that easy!!!)

1.45pm: Chirk Castle was built in the 13th century and served as a border fortress for almost 300 years! Getting up close and personal to the brickwork confirmed that this was indeed built for serious defending purposes. So, we were surprised to learn that it was purchased in 1595 by one Thomas Myddleton who planned to turn it into his family home! The last Myddletons to live there – Colonel Ririd and Lady Margaret moved in in 1946 and opened it to the public. It was donated to the NT in 1981.

Just as we did at Erddig, we decided to look around the exterior grounds before venturing inside. What a disappointment! They advertised their Kitchen Garden, but I think someone forgot to tell the Gardener! There was absolutely nothing to see at all of any interest, so much so, we thought we’d taken the wrong turning. We hadn’t, and within 5 minutes, we were in and out!

OK, enough of all this fresh air nonsense – let’s see what the House has to offer!!

That’s more like it! Proper posh! Coats-of-Arms everywhere, dozens of family paintings and a serious amount of weaponry on the walls! Again, this place was busy, although we’re not sure whether that was down to the great weather; it was a Sunday; or whether this is the ‘go-to’ attraction in these parts. Whatever the reason, expect a lot of people!

It’s most definitely worth a visit, especially if you like your dwellings to look as if they’re built to impress!

3.15pm: Time to head back to the Tractor Shed.

On our list for tomorrow: English Heritage’s Wroxeter (Roman City remains) and then National Trust’s Attingham Park. See you then!

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