Diary of a Curious House Guest

As storms whirl about, I continue the search for perfect feature subjects. On Monday I visited the charming Holme Pierrepont Hall just outside Nottingham, home of the Brackenbury family. It’s a part Tudor house which has been the home of the same family for centuries, but has twice been put up for sale in the mid 20th century. The second time was when Robin Brackenbury acquired the house in 1969, to keep it in the family, and it is now run by his son Robert; recent renovations include the Long Gallery and several rooms for entertaining.

The house and park are an oasis just outside the ever expanding city of Nottingham and Robert is full of ideas for the ancient house, which is very much a family home, indeed with two generations colonising different parts. The day was bitterly cold, but the sun was crisp, perfect for viewing architecture, and we were given an energetic tour by Mr Brackenbury junior, whose wife gave us a very delicious stew for lunch. As we left a huge local funeral was gathering for the next door church, a horse-drawn hearse, the horses in tall black plumes, presented a surprisingly ancient-feeling sight.

On Tuesday I attended the launch of the English Heritage’s new journal of research, edited by my friend Richard Hewlings. The speeches were in the Chapter House, a glorious space, specially chosen because a door nearby, originally the entrance to the Pyx chamber is featured in the journal, as the oldest door in England, to find out exactly how old, you must buy the journal! The drinks afterwards where held in the Undercroft Museum, full of wax dummies of monarchs, which gives a slightly strange atmosphere to the party, but I managed to talk to at least two of my heroes (the boys who edit the new Pevsners).