13 December 2014

Clumber

Clumber House to the south of Worksop in Nottinghamshire was the country residence of the Dukes of Newcastle. In their heyday, like other English aristocratic families, this particular family lived a life of privilege and ease with so much wealth that there was little they could not do. They hired the top landscape gardeners and brought in craftsmen from France and Italy as they dined on fine foods prepared by minions of servants. To some extent the obscene luxuriousness of their lifestyle was part of  a nationwide competition between aristocratic families. A snobbish game of one-upmanship.

In 1938, Clumber House was demolished. A website called "Lost Houses of England" cites the reason for demolition as "insufficient wealth". Many other grand houses were knocked down in those days. Time was running out for any aristocrats who were ill-prepared for the modern world where social and political pressure for greater fairness and equality had become unstoppable.

Eventually, the extensive parkland that surrounded Clumber House came under the control of The National Trust and today anybody can visit a place which would have once been out of bounds for ordinary folk. Even though the grand house has gone, the Grade One listed church remains and the stables and the ornamental lake and the estate village of Hardwick and the grand stone gates and so on.

I drove over there yesterday morning and hired a bicycle which I rode for two hours through the southern section of Clumber Park - stopping occasionally to get my usual fix of photo opportunities. It was bitterly cold and I was glad I had wrapped up well for the outing - Hull City ski cap, fingerless thermal gloves, Hull City manager's jacket and lined walking trousers. I was making a significant fashion statement!
You can see the same church in the black and white photo at the top of this post
The River Poulter runs through Clumber Park. Here there's a ford.
View from Clumber Bridge along the lake
"Shadow of The Beast" starring Yorkshire Pudding.

15 comments:

  1. Henry Boot used much of the stone and statuary when he built Thornbridge Hall at Longstone. It was a teacher training college when I was young and a totty magnet. It is now owned by crooks, the owner of your favourite brewery and his corrupt wife who used to run E4 summat and ducked out six months before the company was found to be ripping us off. The lass didn't leave empty handed she walked with four million.
    Be careful where you drink and what you drink.

    Stunning place and one I always enjoy. Thanks for the pictures. The Lime Tree Avenue is well worth a look in autumn.

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    1. Oi! I am not fond of Thornbridge beers. I am a Tetley man myself with hairs on my chest. I am guessing that you occasionally partake of a small sweet sherry with a bag of KP nuts. Emma Harrison. That's her name and they say that crime doesn't pay!

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  2. Cycling at Clumber? Or clumbering on the cycle?

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    1. Mischievous, Carol! Encumbered, I clambered on the cumbersome cycle at Clumber with a cucumber up my...Hull City coat.

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  3. Run! Run for your lives! The Beast is loose!

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  4. What a terrible shame to knock down the house.! Much better to leave it and hope someone would fix it up. Safety reasons, do you think? Thank Heavens for the National Trust or many more would go down that path I guess

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    1. I think that the end of that house relates to the socio-political milieu of the mid 1930's. There is a sense it was very right that we should lose so many of those grand houses for they symbolised unearned privilege and the class divide that is so much a part of English society - even today.

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    2. 'Unearned' is an interesting word. In the sense that those who inherit wealth (of whatever amount) have not 'earned' it many of us have 'unearned privilege'. One could talk of degree of privilege but then your wealth and privilege is huge compared with the majority of the world's population (as is mine of course). But then I know third generation benefit livers who, in a very curious way, are also beneficiaries of 'unearned privilege'. Don't misunderstand me for I am very much left of centre politically but I don't think life's quite as black and white as is sometimes made out.

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  5. Great pictures! What a good idea to explore the area by bike. Still - fingerless gloves on a bike when it is that cold... My fingers would have been like icicles, I'd have been unable to use my camera.
    The decline of the Grand Houses was inevitable. If you want, look for the review of "The Little Stranger" on my blog. It is a book I can highly recommend, and deals with those issues very well.

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    1. I checked out that post Ambassador Riley and found it tempting. Regarding fingerless gloves, I have never had any before and I love them! Great for taking photos, "watering" trees, picking one's nose and ringing bells on bicycles when some idiot walks in front of you.

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  6. Those are really beautiful pictures, Mr. Pudding. Why is it that you and I, confirmed atheists, are so enthralled by the architecture of churches? I am so in love with the majesty of the building itself. I guess it is because the ancients spent their wealth and their intellect building lasting monuments to their god.

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    1. Churches do not just speak of the God myth Madam Thyme, they also speak of communities and of human aspirations. As a militant atheist I find no contradiction in having a keen interest in churches. In past times all English country churches were unlocked for visitors but nowadays it's only one in ten because of bad people and thieves.

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  7. Beautiful, one of the places on my 'to see' list.

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    1. Mildenhall to Clumber Park is only a two hour drive JR. Dreams can come true...but I think you would like Chatsworth better if you have never been there.

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