Category Archives: Mottisfont

The Simple Things – week 37

Harvest Festival time so it must be autumn.

Awesome Kaffe Fassett exhibition at Mottisfont, St Mary’s Church in Amport before the school’s Harvest Festival service (and I’m still singing the songs in my head!!), finding the Littlest half way up the tree outside school, taking a walk with Jemima after school, our crazy pumpkin ‘tree’, slug time, another lovely dog walk in another beautiful wood.

The Simple Things – Week 20

I haven’t posted for ages as things have been pretty tough and the rollercoaster of life was going to get a whole lot worse from week 19.  However, I did continue to put the photos together, I was just too superstitious, for whatever reason, to post them. But now I’m going to as life has got a whole lot better.

Another early morning for the Littlest, a striking scarlet lily beetle, the Littlest looking for our noisy woodpecker chicks, a mayfly, our Boy at his first confirmation with his school chaplain at Bishop’s, stunning early morning view across the fields, the Tribe at Mottisfont.

The Simple Things – Week 8

The latter end of our week turned into something of a rollercoaster but the beginning of the Littlest’s half term was spent happily and primarily outside.  The end of the week had little to do with ‘simple things’, but in life we have to take the rough with the smooth; so here’s week 8 in photos.

My Tribe playing on Danebury Hill,; the Littlest and friend playing at Mottisfont;  the Littlest just hanging around; the Littlest and another friend playing cowboys(?); Northbrook ward at Royal County Hospital in Winchester with the Eldest; FoTT’s turn to visit Winchester’s A&E with the Eldest in the middle of the night; where there’s new life there’s always hope, signs of spring.  Things will get better.

The Simple Things – Week 3

Despite the extraordinary events on the other side of the pond last week (I sometimes think that it could be the latest far fetched plot line in a Netflix Original series, but no, unfortunately, it’s real life), life does goes on.  However, the apparent anger and unkindness has made me increasingly aware of  the importance of the little things in life; a gloriously crisp cold morning, the giggling of your children playing, still having shared dreams, a sleeping child in your arms, a hug from your oldest teen and the realisation that someone somewhere is reading your blog!!  Anyway, here’s bits from our last week.

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The Littlest after school admiring the water droplets hanging ‘like jewels’ from a tree, on the way back from dropping the older three at the station and it’s -4, a second breakfast once the sun’s up for the Littlest, photo shoot at Mottisfont in an attempt to get a new banner for this website, the magical appearance of snowdrops, a walk across the fields with the Littlest, GD has a birthday!

The featured photo is of the viaduct above Cattle Lane – we drive under it several times a day without noticing it but this particular morning I thought it looked quite beautiful.

A Winter’s Day at Magnificent Mottisfont

Mottisfont is a National Trust property in Hampshire, just 25 minutes away from us.   It dates back to medieval times and is set in glorious grounds.  As it is so close, we have been taking the Tribe there ever since we moved out of London, arriving by both car and bike and we seem to find something new each time we visit.  We all love it.  This time we discovered that there is a lot of work being done at the entrance for a splendid new eco visitor’s centre.  There is also a new trail for the Tribe to follow – a map and pencil is provided, they just have to answer the questions.

Mottisfont was originally founded by William Briwere in 1201 as an Augustinian priory offering food and shelter to pilgrims traveling between Salisbury and Winchester.  During the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Henry VIII granted Mottisfont to his Lord Chancellor, William, Lord Sandys, in exchange for the ‘villages’ of Chelsea and Paddington.  Lord Sandys converted the property to a grand Tudor mansion; in the 1740s it was turned into a smaller family home.

Anrep's angel looking down on the Tribe
Anrep’s angel looking down on the Tribe

In 1934, Gilbert and Maud Russell bought Mottisfont as their weekend home.  Maud was from a German Jewish family (Nelkes) and during WW2, she helped Jewish families leave Germany and bought or rented homes for them in England.  She was a patron of the arts and Mottisfont became a place for artists, designers, writers and philosophers of the day – guests included Ian Fleming, Rex Whistler, Norah Lindsay and Derek Hill to name a few.  Wandering through the house and gardens today, it must have been a wonderful place to be before the  horrors of WW2.  The Tribe always look out for the mosaic angel in a secret corner of the house and garden. Created by the Russian artist Boris Anrep in 1947 (he became Maud’s lover), the angel bears a remarkable resemblence to Maud – Anrep’s angel.

A secret seat alongside the Abbey Stream
A secret seat alongside the Abbey Stream

The ancient plane tree outside the house, where the Tribe once climbed and played, is now roped off to prevent any further damage.  It is believed to be 300 years old and the oldest tree of its kind in the country.

The Climbing Bog
The Climbing Bog

Crossing the Abbey Stream, a man-made channel made to bring the River Test closer to the house, the Tribe spot the new Wild Play Area – a climbing bog.  Mucky, muddy and perfect!  Only one of them manages to fall in – I won’t say which one, but you can possibly guess.  Now they want one at home too – minus the bog perhaps.

Another magical find at the edge of the Climbing Bog
Another magical find at the edge of the Climbing Bog

We make a quick pitstop at the Kitchen Cafe, situated in the original kitchens, before heading to the grounds next to the stables where the Tribe want to find the old ice house, hidden deep amongst a copse of trees, where ice was once packed tightly together in order to keep meat and other perishables from going off.  And of course to provide plenty of ice for the occasional G&T.

The Eldest standing amidst the beautiful tree sculpture
The Eldest standing amidst the beautiful tree sculpture

The Tribe have a final game of chase around the stunning Winter Garden situated near the font – a spring of pure water running for over a thousand years.

The beautiful Winter Garden
The beautiful Winter Garden
The font can just be seen on the right of the photo with the house in the background
The font can just be seen on the right of the photo with the house in the background

On this vist we didn’t see the fishing hut, the stables, the lime walk, the walled rose garden, the old summer house or even visit inside the house.  Here the Tribe love the beautiful drawing room, known as the Whistler Room.  Rex Whistler was commissioned to paint it in Gothic fantasy trope l’oeil.  At the top of one arch he painted a tiny pot of ink with a paintbrush left in it to show that he would be back to finish his work.  He also wrote in small print, “I was painting this ermine curtain when Britain declared war on the Nazi tyrants, Sunday, September 3rd, RW”.  Tragicallly he went to the Front never to return.  Just another fascinating fact to be found amidst this wonderful place.

The Tribe love Mottisfont!
The Tribe love Mottisfont!