You know when you decide to go somewhere on a whim, don’t really take much notice of the information provided beforehand and end up at a place that isn’t really suitable or what was expected? That’s exactly how I felt about the National Trust’s Claydon.
Whenever the new National Trust booklet comes out, or I do an online search for places near us, Claydon was always one of the nearby houses that was on my vague to visit list. We had a spare day so decided to head over there one Sunday morning.
Claydon’s one of those properties that the National Trust only owns part of. The gardens are retained by the Varney family so there’s a charge of £5 to look round those and the rest of the land. We stuck with the house, because for the money I wasn’t sure how long N would give me to spend time photographing flowers!
The house is grand with interesting ornate mouldings in every room. The disappointment was that there’s no photography allowed because much of the fittings and displays are owned by the family and not National Trust. Of course, there’s always one person you spot as you walk round, taking photos quite blatantly with their mobile phone – this time a young hipster guy in chinos who obviously hadn’t taken note of the rule.
N had a trail to do around the house, although as with many trails he didn’t last through the whole house. It felt quite empty – like a shell, although a highly decorative shell with plenty of decorative walls and cornicing to discover.
We spotted numerous pianos throughout the rooms. N was amazed that a house had 3 pianos. The hall had a beautiful marquetry style floor, and a stunning domed window ceiling above 2 or 3 flights of staircases around the walls.
The most interesting room was the Chinoiserie, complete with indoor pagoda and chinese models and ornaments. Walking through an old English manor house and entering the room to find that was a shock. There were also displays of the many oriental armoury, saddles and weapons upstairs.
It didn’t take us long to go round the house, and I have to admit that if I’d paid for entry rather than going on our membership card, I’d have felt short-changed.
As it was approaching lunchtime by the time we got outside, we headed over to the café. This isn’t run by National Trust so they don’t really cater for children. There are no lunchboxes – luckily N will eat a full adult sized sandwich otherwise it’s an expensive place to eat out with children. It’s a nice café though, with a few benches to eat outside overlooking the pretty courtyard. It’s one place not to take a picnic though because there are signs up saying no picnics in the courtyard.
Around the courtyard in the former stables are some arty workshops and shops. Only a couple of them were open on the Sunday we were there, so I’m not sure how many feature there at other times. By this stage we were both ready to leave after our fleeting visit.
While we got outside, saw somewhere new, and enjoyed the sunshine, it wasn’t a particularly thrilling day out. Especially not when I parked, and found the tree above me scraping the roof of my lovely car. Let’s just say Claydon isn’t a place I’d recommend going to if you’re expecting the traditional National Trust property and a family outing suitable for the whole family. It felt a bit like you’d be shouted at if you stepped accidentally on the grass. In future I’ll make sure that I’ll read up on the places I’m planning to go to, more carefully.
Have you been to Claydon, or a similar place and found it disappointing?