Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Michelham Priory

One of the nice things about staying with people is that they know about things and places that most tourists from other countries will never know about. I had never heard of Michelham Priory before but I was quite happy to go and take a look at it.

Admission Prices.

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As you can see, the is a moat around the Priory.

Car park covered with leafy trees.

Entrance through a gate house.

This gives an idea of what the Priory looked like in its prime.

The moat. It's covered with water lilies and algae.

Marianne did not volunteer to put her head in these. She knows I would take the photo from the wrong side. And post it on the blog!!

The Shop. Like any respectable male, I did not set foot in there.

The smoke is coming from a smithy on the other side of the wagon shed.

The entrance to the priory is quite stark.

Face on the ceiling.

The Tudor Wing which is the main ground floor room. The size of the fireplace is impressive.

Old chair. I suspect it would have been uncomfortable.

After the main room, we went into the Tudor kitchen.

Ingredients from the Tudor times.

A woman dressed in a costume from Tudor times gave an explanation of how cooking would have been done at the time.

The woman said that complete meals could be cooked in the one large kettle which essentially acted like an oven. For example, a mince meat pudding would contain actual meat, be wrapped in cloth, and just tossed into the pot which already contained other food such as a joint of meat, vegetables  and broth.

This mechanism drove a spit.

She was very knowledgeable and very enthusiastic and it is a full-time job for her. Marianne and Caroline had a wonderful time talking to her and they spent another thirty minutes talking to her about how her costume was made.

While the ladies were talking, I headed upstairs.

Map of military installations in the south during WWII.

What interested me was the story of a dozen or so boys from the east end of London who were billeted at the Priory during WWII. Because of the danger from the bombing, it was common for London children to be sent to households in the country. Here is a photo of them in the Tudor Hall.

If you lived in the country, there was no choice in the matter. The authorities turned up with a couple of children and it was your responsibility to look after them. Refusals were not allowed.

This room was their bedroom and is now shown as it was when the boys were there.

Paper planes.


Corridor to the Tudor wing.

It was a very comfortable feeling room with plenty of light.

The ceiling.

Another huge fireplace.

While the ladies were still talking, I went outside and for a few minutes the sun came out.

You can see the difference in colour that the sun makes on the sandstone. The sun was back behind a cloud for the above photo.

It was very relaxing sitting there looking out over the green grass.

One of the trees was huge.

One of the out buildings had a cafe and we went there for lunch. I was intrigued by the Elderflower softdrink and it was quite pleasant with a flowery taste as you would expect.

Derrick ordered the baked potato with tuna. The result was this huge spud that must have weighed five pounds along with a pound of tuna. He finished it.

The ladies had quiche.

And I had a piece of pie with potatoes. It was quite tasty.

There was a large barn which looks like it is used for wedding receptions and other large events.

Balcony in the barn.

Machinery to make ropes.

A large drill in the smithy.

Somebody enjoyed sitting here.

The wagons lined up in the shed.

The archers were out shooting at the targets. Some of them were attempting to shoot arrows through the slit in the wall to hit the target behind. They were mostly successful.

There was a Physic garden near the kitchen with plants for various ailments.

This plant was used instead of soap. According to the lady in the kitchen, back in Tudor times the right to make soap was restricted and consequently, alternatives such as this plant were used.

The remains of the cloister.

The Priory was founded in 1229 but was dissolved in 1537 and the church was demolished between 1599 and 1601. The foundations are marked by these paths.

The moat encircles the priory and appears to need a bit of a cleaning.

The red was very intense.

There was an extensive fruit and vegetable garden.

Onions. I don't think it is possible to have a crappy garden in England. With all the rain, stuff just grows and grows.

Caroline pokes her head up.

There was a secluded nook with a seat. By now I was really enjoying the whole place. It was extremely restful and I imagine it was a delight to live there. 

You too can have a large chess piece for the sum of 95 pounds.

On the way out, I noticed that you could climb up into the gate house. There were some large rooms there. I suspect the children would have used them back during the war.

Another good room for a stereo but hauling the amplifiers and speakers up the steep stairs would be a challenge.

Just outside the Priory is a water mill that is still used to grind grain. Because there had been so much rain, the water wheel was not operating since there would be too much water.

So we really enjoyed the place. I was talking to one of the attendants and asked her about the boys and their experience. She said that after the war they had reunions at the priory and a couple of them are still alive. They all came from very poor backgrounds and had never experienced anything so luxurious and beautiful in their lives before. Some of them did not want to go home at the end of the war.

I don't blame them. Given a choice between living at Arundel Castle and living here at the Priory, I would choose the Priory in a heatbeat.

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