Quirky Grey’s Court

In which we make an impromptu visit to a 16th-century manor house and wish we’d taken our gloves.

Greys Court, Oxon (National Trust)

Just before the heat wave that we’re still enjoying started, we found ourselves rather unexpectedly over near Henley -on-Thames one Sunday afternoon, and as we don’t go out in that direction very often, decided to visit the National Trust property called Greys Court.

I have to say that we didn’t know the first thing about it, so a quick read in the Trust Handbook was all we had to go on.

The back of the house has more character than the front for me.

Entry into the house was by timed ticket, and as so often happens when you do something without prior planning, we arrived with the perfect amount of time to have tea and cake before going round the house. This was a jolly good thing, as it was extremely cold considering it was mid May, and we were all glad to have a hot drink to fortify ourselves.

The house itself is one of the Trust’s quirkier properties.

Generally when I go inside these buildings, it feels like walking into a very classy antique shop. The furniture and paintings usually conjure up wealth,  age and a certain grandeur. There’s usually a scent of long ingrained beeswax and lavender.

But Greys Court was a bit of a surprise, because I quickly realised that it was actually more like stepping into a larger version of our own home.

The first room we went into, had very similar sofa covers and was the same style suite, the hand-made cushions were mostly tapestries – as are ours, and there was a piano, quite like our own.

This feeling stayed with me as I walked around.

I can’t in all honesty say that I liked it terribly much. I’m still struggling to put my finger on the reason why, but perhaps it was verging on the too normal. The one room that I did like though, was the kitchen. There, I could happily cook dinner, read the paper or entertain friends.

Feeling bemused, we went to seek out the Tudor Donkey Wheel.

The Donkey Wheel – I tried to snap this from every angle and failed miserably.

This is something you don’t see everyday, and we definitely don’t have one tucked away in our garage – I’m sure I’d have noticed.

Then it was off up the Great Tower to look down on everything – much more fun and with excellent views all around.

The views from the Great Tower are excellent.

And as it was so cold and we were barely dressed appropriately, we ended our visit by strolling, slightly faster than we’d have done had it been warmer, around the walled gardens, which we’d seen from the Tower.

The gardens are gorgeous and I’m deeply green with envy.

The wisteria, although not as good as in some years, according to the sign, was still impressive. I adore the patterns in the intertwined stems.

Wisteria – what can you see in these shapes?

The girls finished off the afternoon by cheating miserably in the maze.

Greys Courtinteresting, gorgeous gardens, excellent views and a lovely place to amble around, but somehow just not hitting the mark for me – well, you can’t please all of the people all of the time… mind you, I probably wouldn’t refuse, if somebody gave it to me.

PSI forgot to mention, the tea-room is very good indeed and worth a visit, even if you don’t go in the house.

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