After picking blueberries yesterday morning, we headed over to Wightwick Manor, a National Trust property not far from home.
This lovely Victorian home was built by a prosperous manufacturing family and is quite unusual. Its collection of pre-Raphaelite art is extensive and its interior decoration was mainly completed by William Morris. I loved this place the first time we visited, back in 2003, and our return visit reminded me of how much I appreciate the arts and crafts movement.
We ate lunch in the car during a rain shower, and then meandered through the gardens after booking a house tour. With an hour free before the tour, we decided to have a walk around. And the skies poured with rain. Literally. We stood under a hedge arch for a while, but even then the hedge above us grew soaked and began dripping with rain. Eventually we managed to make a run for it to the shop, where the kids pulled out pocket money that magically had made its way into their pockets and bought themselves packets of boiled sweets.
Cold and wet, with very muddy wellies, we tromped inside to begin our tour. We were definitely the noisiest members of the group, the sound of sweet packets rattling and scrunching wherever we went. We were also the grubbiest; I think the kids managed to wipe their boots on every single carpet in the house, apart from the conservation ones, fortunately.
Wightwick contains a wealth of art treasures, especially for those who are interested in Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, John Everett Millais, and of course William Morris. Our tour guide delighted in telling us about a visit from Andrew Lloyd-Webber a few years ago, particularly to view Burne-Jones' painting, Love Among the Ruins. Not long after, Lloyd-Webber mentioned Wightwick Manor on national television as an unmissable place to see in the Midlands. The very next day, they were inundated with visitors.
Back outside, we walked around the gardens, enjoying some faint sunshine.
Before we left, the kids and Dan played hide-and-seek on the soggy front lawn. I love the photo below. Coo is hiding and Mr J is seeking. He knows she's there and she's frozen on the spot!
Dan is waiting to jump out at the three boys as they come round the corner!
And of course, Coo loved all the flowers.
When we arrived home, amidst the clamour and busyness of getting tea ready, putting our things away, and other general commotion, I had a moment of wondering what the actual date was of our other visit to Wightwick Manor. I knew it was the summer of 2003, but beyond that had no idea. I opened the drawer that contains letters and all my old diaries, and pulled out the 2002-2003 volume. Flipping through the pages of the diary [back in those days I used a pocket-size version!], I found the date. Second of August, 2003. Exactly nine years to the day. Serendipity.