Chepstow

Tyntesfield

The Trip to Tyntesfield on July 12th 2018

Click here to see the Tyntesfield Photo Album

Though the weather was initially inclement, the coolness the rain brought was most welcome,and it was a rather jolly coachload that set off for Tyntesfield on time.

Whatever people say about the National Trust, they definitely do a professional welcome, and we were met with passes for the house and maps of the grounds. And, of course, pointed us all in the direction of the nearby shop and restaurant - in the old cow barn - where most of us took our elevenses.

An amazingly historic Gothic Victorian house; with a wealth of artefacts, paintings, and furniture to view. National trust guides were on hand to talk us through the rooms and corridors, to give us the history of the family, and snippets of life during the heyday of the house.
Our passes for the house offered us a "self-guided" tour, starting any time between 11.30 and 12.30, so we weren't all locked together, and anyway by then we'd already separated out into little groups of three or four. The arrows, ropes, and guides point you on a fixed trail around all the rooms, so you can't miss any detail. The NT was installing new fire alarms, so some of the rooms were closed, although we could peer in at stacked furniture under dust sheets. Highlights were the library, with all the original Victorian books and armchairs, the billiards room ("no, sorry, we don't allow visitors to play"), and the wonderful chapel. Oh, and an historical Broadwood piano, which they do let you play, tempting one of our members into a cheeky tinkle.

The present house at Tyntesfield dates from the 1860s, having been completely remodelled in the Victorian Gothic Revival style by its new owner, William Gibbs, a dealer in guano (yes, bird poo!) which he imported from Peru to Europe and America for use as a farm fertilizer - a classic case of "Where there's muck..". And Victorian Gothic it definitely is, inside and out - every window, doorway, stick of furniture is thoroughly and ornately decorated in that florid style. If you like Victorian Gothic, it's a feast to keep you satisfied for a long time. If on the other hand you don't, the only real relief (apart from the cow barn and stables) is the garden.

The expansive grounds were a delight; there were many ancient trees throughout the parkland and walkways, and by the time we were ready to explore it the rain had stopped and we were able to make the most of it. There's a formal garden with a wonderful pink rose arch, a walled garden with greenhouses, a small orangery, as well as extensive parklands with more beds and exotic trees for those who like to wander away from the crowds. And (of course) another little tea shop near the orangery, which proved very popular.

Interlinked greenhouses took one through a number of growing areas. The walled kitchen garden made one quite envious, being extensively planted and well-tended by an
army of National trust volunteers.

In the stables there is a small secondhand book shop, and a wonderful collection of plants on sale, which proved too much of a temptation for some members. So our coach trip home took on a very colourful and fragrant note very much in keeping with an enjoyable day in the safe hands of the National Trust.

Tyntesfield proved to be a popular day for us all.

"A Great Day Away"

Sue Marshall and Alistair Wylie

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