I currently reside in Hampshire, but from 2011 to 2014, I lived in Wiltshire. I was a short drive from Bath, a city I loved to explore. Thanks to my membership of the National Trust, I also roamed further afield, regularly enjoying Avebury Manor, Lacock Abbey and village, Westwood Manor and Courts Garden.
I had a particular favourite, a lovely old manor house tucked away in the countryside just north of Trowbridge. It had its own little chapel but of special interest to me was the barn and the stables where, in spring, the swallows nested. Just outside the barn was a covered area where you could sit with a beaker of tea and coffee. That's where I used to watch the parent birds zooming in and out of the stables feeding their young.
Last week, while watching Wolf Hall on television, I recognised that very manor house, both its interiors and its exterior. It was doubling as the family home of Thomas Cromwell. It's called Great Chalfield Manor.
The Manor was once the home of another lawyer, and another Thomas - Thomas Tropnell. Below is a view of the rear from the garden. In summer, the small courtyard is a mass of roses.
Tropnell was born in 1405 and lived long enough to see the dawn of the Tudor period. He died in 1487 or 1488, a few years after the battle of Bosworth Field which brought Henry Tudor to the throne of England as Henry VII.
The main building at Great Chalfield has had modifications over the centuries but enough of the medieval and Tudor phases remain for the visitor to enjoy. Clearly the BBC thought so too, hence its use as a location in Wolf Hall.
I miss Great Chalfied Manor because I no longer live close enough to just pop over when the fancy takes me. I miss the swallows in spring, and the garden. One October I was gobsmacked by the huge variety of Michaelmas daisies in the flower bed. The border was alive with the buzz of insects feeding on the nectar. I couldn't record the sound, but I did have my camera with me...
Below is the apple store. The swallows also nested in there.
Ah well, I may have left Wiltshire, but now I have the delights of Hampshire. Uppark House, Mottisfont, Hinton Ampner and the Royal Naval Dockyard in Portsmouth. Gilbert White's House in Selborne is just up the A3 from me, and Jane Austen's cottage in Chawton is less than half an hour away. That's just as well because, as of March, I'll be working there as a volunteer room guide. Pastures new, and all that.