About five miles from where we live, in the town of Nuneaton, is Arbury Hall-a Grade I listed grand house- built on the land of a former priory.
The original hall was built in the 16th Century, after the land was sold off to a friend of Henry VIII (as were many of the old monasteries) in the Elizabethan style. The original owner needed to work in the capital, so then swapped the house with another family who had a home in London, and the Newdegate family have lived in the house ever since. Arbury Hall is a family home, so is only open during bank holiday weekends, so we visited on May Day to take a look around.
Wisteria was just coming into bloom along a south facing wall, in a week or so I'm sure it will smell divine.
Even the entrance to the gardens looked lovely, the tulips were coming to the end of their season, but these white ones on the way in gave us an idea of what was to come.
Bluebells were in full flower, lining the paths within the gardens and the woods.
The exterior of the house gives a clue to the interior; the Elizabethan house is almost impossible to see today, as in the 18th century one of the owners made big alterations to the house, changing the building to introduce one of the earliest examples of gothic revival architecture and decoration (a style later to become incredibly popular in Victorian Britain).
The vaulted ceilings with the 'cake icing' like plaster decoration are so ornate that they caused a huge intake of breath as we went into rooms with these.
As the hall is a family home we were asked not to take photos inside, so any interior shots are from the internet.
Outside, the vaulted windows are additions from the 18th century. The south side of the house was the entrance originally, but now face the gardens.
We had a lovely day, if you live anywhere near the Midlands Arbury Hall is a real hidden gem, and well worth a visit on a Bank holiday weekend.
Maybe the next time we visit, it will be a little warmer.