Saturday, May 22, 2010


Lanhydrock House, Cornwall, England

Chartwell, Kent, England

Can you tell I am counting the days until I arrive in the Mother Country? I came across this little gem from Britain's National Trust. Go to the website (click here) to download a free album of the sounds of houses. Sounds of walking along a pathway, the crunching of pea gravel (one of my favorite sounds as it always reminds me of being on holiday), the creaking of a staircase, a key unlocking a door, the ocean lapping on to the shore. All designed to reflect the various houses that are part of the National Trust.

I've toured two of the houses, Chartwell and Lanhydrock. Chartwell was Winston Churchill's getaway country house and it is exactly what you would picture. The quintessential English Country house with faded, worn chintz fabric covered chairs, lots of fireplaces, books everywhere, and vases stuffed with garden clippings. My sister and I toured the home in early October ages ago and we lucked out that no one else was touring so we had Chartwell to ourselves. I stood in Churchill's office looking at his stand-up desk (he preferred to stand rather than sit at a desk) and it seemed he would come strolling in any moment. The dining room is the other room I remember distinctly. Imagine all of those dinner parties with royalty and the political leaders of the day.

Lanhydrock is far more grand than Chartwell. I remember two things about that estate. First, the gate house alone was quite grand with its spires and windows and, second, the Long Gallery was stunningly long (kids would love to rollerblade in that room). It was the first English home I toured of that magnitude--acres and acres of property, a separate parish, gardens, woodland, parkland, and of course the prerequisite sheep grazing on the hill.

Since then I've visited a lot of properties owned by the National Trust and have never been disappointed. One of its star holdings is the beloved Hill Top, the home of Beatrix Potter in northern England. My personal favorite.

Back to the album, here is the description from the National Trust webpage:

"Jarvis Cocker, best known as the former front-man for the band Pulp, has worked with us to produce the album, entitled National Trust: The Album, comprising of British natural sounds including birdsong, crashing waves and wind breezing through a country garden.

Eleven of our special places across England, Northern Ireland and Wales feature on the album, so we hope you'll enjoy listening to the sounds of these places - to hear them for real, come along for a visit - we're closer than you think."

If you are intrigued, click here and enjoy!


  1. Who would have thought of such simple little sounds to place on a website? Interesting. Wish I could come. Such lovely scenery.

  2. I'm so excited that you have this trip planned. And thanks for your AZ favorites list. Have a great summer.