My house is a former staff house, which previously belonged to the Stubton Hall Estate. It’s not a pretty house, having been built in the 60’s, when houses were boxy and bland, but it has a lovely old stone wall surrounding it, which perhaps goes some way to compensating for its plain looks. Up until about 5 or 6 years ago, the area to the rear of my house was a well kept, but informal orchard. It is a large walled area, of a few acres, which at one time was a Victorian kitchen garden. There’s an ancient mulberry tree, a medlar tree and some very old varieties of apple tree. More recently, in the mid 1900’s the area was known as the ‘menagerie’ because the owner of the Hall kept exotic pets. When we moved here, all that remained was a flock of geese and a few Muscovy Ducks. There’s a natural pond within the grounds, which used to home lots of Great Crested Newts, but their numbers have declined in recent years and we now only see the odd one or two a year.

The Hall used to be a boarding school, but that closed several years ago and the Hall stood empty for a time before being purchased by wealthy Americans, who have part converted the Hall into a hotel. What started out as a large development, including a health spa and a 26 bedroom annex, has ground to a halt, due to the recession. The main Hall has been refurbished, but the remainder of the estate has been mothballed, including the area at the back of my house, which is overgrown with brambles and ivy. Nevertheless, it has a certain beauty and the photograph below shows the wall that encases the ‘menagerie’, along with the lovely archway, which, along with the wall, is made from lias stone. The wall and archway are Grade II listed.

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The view in the photograph can only be seen from upstairs these days, because the brambles and ivy have obscured the view from the ground; nevertheless, I do like to stand and stare sometimes at the view and just remind myself what’s good about living in the back of beyond.

If I get a chance this year, I’ll have a go at cutting some of the brambles back, to allow a little more variety of natural vegetation to flourish. I’ve been eyeing up petrol strimmers, which I think are the only thing that could cope with some of the brambles, which have thick stems almost 2 inches in diameter.

If you look to the far left of the picture, you will see a strange minaret type structure, which appeared on the end of a crane one day. It’s not (IMO) in keeping with the Victorian building that it’s been plonked on, and also it’s been painted bright silver. Maybe it will mellow with age, or maybe I have no taste:-)

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