We Pisceans aren’t normally blessed with lovely weather on our birthdays, but the weather gods were kind this year and made a pleasant exception for my 28th. After our visit to Redwings Horse Sanctury, we drove to nearby Upton House, a National Trust property not far from Banbury.
Upton House was the country pad of 1930s millionaire Viscount Bearsted, son of Shell oil magnate Marcus Samuel, and it was very much set up for one of those big aristocratic country estate weekends away. It must have been such fun to have had a lot of money in those days. Its relatively unassuming exterior…
…belies its lavish yet strangely cosy interior. This was my favourite room, the Long Gallery; I love the light, and the colour of the walls. You were allowed to play the piano, but I’m so rusty having not played for a year that I didn’t want to risk messing up my favourite pieces in front of the other visitors!
The library was another favourite room, with a balcony view over a large room below (not pictured). Apologies for the slightly blurry photo; it’s so hard to get decent interior shots without a tripod!
This is the end of the large room below the library just mentioned; this was a cosy little ‘nook’ next to the fireplace, where you could just imagine the hungover gentry gathering round the fire and listening to the wireless.
There is an extensive collection of valuable art at Upton House (even the likes of Canaletto), and they had an interesting angle on it: showing you the back of the paintings by standing them up to give you a 360 degree view. This was fascinating, as you could see all the notes affixed to the back from various exhibitions they’d been part of.
I always find the kitchen one of the most interesting aspects of a country house, and Upton’s was no exception.
I love the old packaging seen on the table and on the dresser in the background. I wish packaging was as smart as that now; so much nicer than plastic wrapping!
I found a second hand bookshop in the scullery, but I was very restrained and managed not to buy anything!
Here’s a view of the house from the back garden. As you can see, it was a glorious day! One could easily imagine all the ladies and gentlemen strolling the lawns with a glass of Champagne on a summer’s evening (a glass of birthday Champagne was all that was missing for us in fact!).
The kitchen gardens at Upton House are particularly spectacular, with several terraces of fruit trees, herbs and so on.
Another view of the kitchen garden. I used to fly over/near Upton a lot when I was at my old gliding club, which is close by, and on this fine afternoon I could see gliders in circuit on the horizon.
To visit the gorgeous Upton House yourself, see the website for details of opening hours and admission prices.