Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Shugborough Hall.

1 Lock, 6 Miles. Now moored at Great Haywood.

Essex bridge over the River Trent

Overnight we did get some rain and we could hear the thunder further south but this morning was again fine with a little high cloud. On tonight's evening news we have just heard of a house fire started by lightening and 4 cars in a car yard also destroyed by lightening. The power of nature!!

First job of the day was a quick trip over to Morrison's supermarket for a few essentials. There was also high volumes of traffic on the canal which caused considerable delays at today's only lock which had no ground paddle ,only a single gate paddle in operation.

Approaching Shugborough Hall we looked for a suitable mooring but found nothing and when we reached Haywood lock we pulled in second in the queue. We had moved up to first in the queue when we spotted a Canaltime boat preparing to leave his mooring about 100 yards back down the canal so we did him a swap, a mooring for the lock. We reversed back as he pulled away and then slotted into the mooring, very convenient.

As we hadn't travelled far today we had an early lunch then walked across the Essex bridge which crosses the River Trent to Shugborough Hall. The grounds to the Hall were a hive of activity as they prepare for this weekends Music and Fireworks festival. We would like to stay for the event but we are on a mission and cannot spare the time. The fireworks will be visible for some miles around so we might see them at a distance.

Just as we arrived at the gate to the Hall the heaven's opened up and it was a quick dash under the nearest tree to stay dry. We had come prepared with an umbrella and pack away parka but we still got a little damp. Walking through the grounds to the hall there was another short shower so by the time we reached the Hall there were quite a few puddles around.

After walking through the main house we visited the servants quarters where cook's, laundry maid and brewer (guides) are dressed in period costume and demonstrate their craft and tools or equipment. You can even taste the brewers ale which is very much like flat beer. Apparently part of the servants recompense was an allowance of 8 pints (4.8%) of ale a day, men and women. This was due to the fact that water in those days was undrinkable.

The laundry maid showed us how they rolled rather than ironed the bed sheets by rolling them onto a roller whilst still damp, placing this under a huge wooden flat frame full of rocks and then rolling the frame backwards and forwards to roll out any creases. After this they were hung out on a ceiling frame in front of the huge boiler that heated the laundry and the thirty or so irons that were placed around the specially shaped cast iron body to heat up. As the iron cooled it was replaced on the boiler and the maid grabbed another iron and carried on. No wasted time here waiting for irons to reheat.

We also found out how Staffordshire bull terriers supposedly got their name. Four centuries ago in the belief that it tenderised the meat, a steer or bull was tethered to an immovable object awaiting slaughter, it was then set upon by what was then bull terriers. Many of these dogs were killed but the name Staffordshire or Staffie as they are commonly known stuck from this bizarre custom of the county.

Out in the livery stable there is a large display of 18th century horse drawn passenger vehicles some of which are still in their original condition. Part of the staff quarters has been dedicated to a museum of anything connected to Staffordshire like Armitage and Shanks porcelain bath's, basin's and toilet pans. These two companies are now merged as one and still produce these products to this day. This ad hoc visit turned out to be well worthwhile and as it turned out was very timely because as we left the hall we found surface flooding all over the place indicating that there had been some heavy rain while inside the hall.

As we walked back to the boat we noticed that the River Trent which had been quite clear when we crossed it the first time was now running quite fast and very dirty so there must have been some really heavy rain somewhere. Glad we are on a canal.

1359 locks, 1952 miles, 44 Tunnels, 42 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

1 comment:

Nb Yarwood said...

Hi Dot and Derek
My first holiday on a narrowboat was in this part of the world. We moored at Shugborough and went to see the house. Every time I pointed something of interest out to the kids I managed to set the alarms off! The 'below stairs' bits I found the most interesting though - probably because that is where I would have lived given my position in society and my beloved Nan was in service.
NB Caxton