Country Images Magazine North Edition November 2017 - Page 28

As befi ts a town where tradition still holds sway, Melbourne Hall at the bottom of Church Street dates from Tudor times, but was refashioned around three centuries ago. Most of the work was carried out by Francis Smith of Warwick who added graceful new rooms, with his son, William, completing the work in 1744. Th e work, it must be added, was a little unusual, for the house has two frontages, one overlooking the garden and the other, more public front, overlooking the large pond known as ‘Th e Pool’, and therefore open to the full gaze of passing strollers. Unusual though the design may be, nevertheless the Hall is attractive, both inside as well as out. Outside and adorned with lead statues, fountains and an ornate wrought-iron summerhouse, dubbed ‘Th e Birdcage’, the walled garden was laid out by Th omas Coke, who was born at the Hall and is buried in the chancel of the nearby parish church. He was Chamberlain to Queen Anne and it was she who gave him the lovely ornament that stands near one of the urns. It was made by the Dutch craft sman, John van Nost, and has carvings representing the four seasons. On the stone pedestal is a lead vase supported by four monkeys and crowned by a bowl of fruit and fl owers; 24 children play around the edge of the vase. Familiar views Today, Melbourne Hall is the home of Lord and Lady Ralph Kerr, who open the gardens Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays from April to September between 1:30 and 5:30pm. Th e House is open every day in August (except the fi rst three Mondays), from 2:00 4:30pm. Pre-booked parties by arrangement with the Administrator. Telephone 01332 862502. Outbuildings in the old stable yard now serve a modern purpose by being converted to a Visitor Centre housing small specialist shops and workrooms. Th ese range from a high class butcher, to a jewellery maker, a furniture restorer, a wedding cake maker, antique and collectables and a picture framer. Down a narrow passage entered by a doorway with a lintel so low it needs a warning sign, ex-music teacher and principal viola with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, Peter Rose’s ‘Christian Rose violins’, is a place where anyone should go if they need a violin, viola, or cello – there are even violins known as ‘16ths’, specially scaled down instruments suitable for three year- old budding virtuosos. 28 | CountryImagesMagazine.co.uk