The best trip, ever (3)
The intrepid Meredith Taylor follows the footsteps of Russell and Holmes in Dartmoor…
Dartmoor, MOOR and Lew Trenchard
When we arrived a party of four was sitting right next to the fireplace in the front room. (No fire needed on a Thursday in May.) I was disappointed as this would slow down my quest for fireplace surround with hounds chasing the fox. In synchrony with my recent life with the slightly deaf, the oldest lady in the party kept repeating “I can’t hear you.” Brother Dave opined later that they were an advance party scouting for a future event. I believe we were the only other guests in the entire place, with two staff visible in front of house and chef or assistants in the kitchen, whom we never saw.
Lewtrenchard now offers gourmet meals in the Purple Carrot restaurant. I obeyed one of the first rules about good cooks: don’t mess with the chef. I went nowhere near the kitchen.
We sat down for tea in that front room, termed the “hall” in MOOR.
I extend apologies to my reading public, as I made a substantial error and did not capture a shot of the hall, and neither, alas, did Dave. Therefore I’ll give you a longer description than other rooms. Happily for Lewtrenchard and present guests, the front room has been totally reupholstered and reconfigured from the 2009 era or in fact any photo on line.
It is now redone with earth-tones and dark red and red-brown on the furniture. Two wing chairs were next to the fireplace and faced a round low wooden table, faced on the other side by a large sofa. Another sofa sat back to back with that, facing a large ottoman/coffee table (designer fashion of present day) in olive green tufted leather and another spacious couch in dark red-brown was positioned on the other side. All of these couches had tapestry/kilim-style cushions sufficient to make the height-challenged (me) comfortable. The front room has beautiful stained-glass windows with the Baring-Gould mottoes.
Tea was the classic selection on a tiered plate stand of tea sandwiches, scones, Devon clotted cream (a substance part way between cream, butter and heaven), strawberry jam, and small pieces of cake. The scones were the best I ate on the entire trip. The party of four departed and I realized that if I didn’t say anything we’d be there and gone and not see the rest of the house. However, if I put my mind to it and am enthusiastic, I can talk people into things.
In the hall I took a picture of the carved wooden fireplace surround, where the fox unquestionably is heading for a pineapple.
I found the nice staff ladies and started talking about Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould (SBG). Donna and Laure (pronounced “lore” and how great a coincidence is that!) were extremely gracious and, I believe, frankly delighted that someone had heard of him, the family and the house. Donna escorted me into the room of Virtues which is termed the sitting room in MOOR and then a room which I would call the library but probably was termed SBG’s study in the book. These now are both dining rooms, one being empty of furniture at our visit. There is a close up here of the Virtue “Investigatio” with her dress indeed adorned by objects which appear to be ants. Her designated Virtue name is over her head and barely visible.
The house has had changes since 2009. Upstairs I could easily find the generously endowed African lady carved as a door surround near one of the rooms. I’d call the upstairs area a very large upper landing; Russell describes it as the gallery.
The farthest room on the right has Queen Henrietta Maria’s bed, one of the famous features of the house (pictured) and is a sumptuous room. However, this bed would not do if you were a gent of six foot four, as the Queen of Charles I evidently was petite.
The gallery holds SBG’s long dining table referred to as a refectory table. SBG’s standing desk as described in MOOR is also there and the photo shows me beside it (thrilled, may I say). After all, both SBG and Holmes leaned on this desk!