“ Historic estate located in Shropshire „
Dudmaston Hall It was a wet summer's day, but that didn't stop us from going out on our day trips, but it did stop us from enjoying the grounds of Dudmaston Hall. We spent the duration of our visit looking at the house and then enjoying a cream tea before heading back home. For years I have driven past the entrance to Dudmaston Hall and often wondered what it was like and I have said on many occasion that I would find the time to visit one day, well this summer that day arrived as my hubby took me to visit it during our two week vacation at home as a tourist. ~~A Little History~~ Dudmaston Hall is a beautiful red brick stately home which has remained in the same family since 1403. The Wolryche family used the Oak Tree as a symbol on their family crest, which over the generations became very profound as their care of the forest became prominent. The house as it stands today was started in the 17th century by Sir Thomas Wolryche, but sadly he didn't get to complete his dream home as he died before it was finished, after several years of family problems it wasn't until 1775 when William Whitmore inherited the estate and started modernising it; this progression carried on when his son William Wolryche-Whitmore took over the reigns. It went through its next major change when in 1908 Geoffrey Wolryche-Whitmore took over the running of the estate, where he bought Dudmaston up-to-date making it a pioneer in modern forestry methods. It was in the 1960's when the Laboucheres completed the estate to what it is today making it the family home where they retired to in 1966; they also helped with the successful and handover to the National Trust in 1978. ~~Our Visit~~ As I mentioned earlier it was a very wet and rainy day, we parked up after driving up the long and picturesque driveway. There was a small marquee with two attendants inside where you purchased your tickets, guide books etc; you could even sign up for membership with the National Trust if you wanted. There was no big gift shop or anything here, just this little tent with National Trust items for sale and your tickets. After purchasing our tickets we walked through an archway in the perimeter wall around the house, to some out buildings attached to the side of the main house, here we looked at the weird and wonderful contraptions and gadgets exhibition; they even gave you a leaflet for a family quiz asking you questions about the displays so you have to look at them more closely and expand your knowledge. I found this very interesting much to my hubby's annoyance as I kept him hanging around. We went onto the next room which contained a few modern art displays and I made friends with the estates cat that enjoyed a bit of a fuss. After spending much too long here in my hubby's opinion we moved onto the main house. Where else would you start, but in the Entrance Hall which still has the wonderful oak panelling dating from the 18th century. It is typically grand with its large family portraits hanging on the panels around the room; gosh how the other half lived. It does have a wonderful Oak and Elm table, dating from the 17th century which to me it had a lovely rustic feel about it. The house is wonderful to walk around with some fantastic things to look at including the brilliant sweeping staircase taking you to the next floor, also note the crystal chandeliers and the artwork as you go around. Look out for the large bronze bell which was moved for health and safety reasons from over the door and is now on display in a specially designed holder; the bell is inscribed 'I Wolrythe De Dudmaston 1680'. The Library was one of the rooms that I really enjoyed with some lovely portraits, but it also held a few lovely floral paintings dating back to the 18th century. I just love the way that these old houses display and preserve many treasures including all those lovely books which are now centuries old. I won't bore you by taking you through room to room; I will mention some of the things that stood out for us. Like most stately homes this one did not disappoint, its rooms were dressed to period and for your enjoyment and to help you see the styles of furniture that the families have enjoyed over the generations. You not only got to see portraits of ancestors around the house, but you got some fine examples of modern art in one of the galleries. There was more than one gallery for your perusal they had a couple where you could view items of period art and costume and old family artefacts. ~~What more does it have to offer~~ Dudmaston does lay host to some beautiful grounds and wonderful country walks, for both pleasure and education. It is nestled in around 3,500 acres of land, which has beautiful lakes, forests and parkland, which can be wonderful to walk through during any season, as you can imagine seeing all the spring buds and light colours, to the brightness and colour of the summer on to the autumn orange and golds. Due to it being a very rainy day and neither of us being healthy enough to risk such dampness we did not explore the vast gardens and walks, although we did enjoy the beauty of the grounds and views on the drive up to the house. From the tea room you can purchase a map of all the walks for about £1.00, this is ideal for the ardent and experienced walker, for those like me you may wish to take the short walk which is printed on the free leaflet and is only about 3/4 mile round trip but still covers some spectacular views of the house and gardens. What I have researched the walks are worth doing if you enjoy nature and the countryside, you will spot old and new sculptures and buildings around the estate once again showing you the old and the modern working alongside, which seems to be the ethos of Dudmaston Hall. ~~Other Info~~ Dudmaston try to bring an interest to people of all ages, offering quiz sheets for children of different age groups, making it interesting for them as they have to search for things around the house or on the walks. My grand-daughter who is 7yrs old loves these fact sheets and discovering the answers as she looks around places. I do think they are a simple yet effective and enjoyable idea. The teashop was very quaint and had a few walking maps available on a little table by the entrance/exit. They had light lunches and cakes for sale as well as drinks, we thoroughly enjoyed our cream tea during our visit, the atmosphere and service were impeccable giving us nothing to complain about. Toilets - these are provided of course, be we did not use them during our visit, so sadly on this occasion I cannot comment truthfully on their condition. They also have disabled toilets and baby changing facilities. They do mention that they sell plants to the public (I am seeing this a lot lately in stately homes and on the estates). I didn't notice any for sale on our visit, but maybe I was looking in the wrong place and it was a very wet and grey day. You are allowed to take your dogs for walks on the estate, but they are not allowed on the cultured gardens around the house or obviously inside the house. Parking is free and not too far to walk to the main house; there is also wheelchair access on the grounds and to the ground floor only on the main house. They are really family friendly and offer lots for the young family, such as baby-food heating arrangements, baby slings or hip-carrying child seats and even small buggies for hire. As mentioned earlier they offer quizzes and trails for the slightly older children, also a picnic area and an activity room within the house for the children to enjoy themselves and maybe even dress up for a little role play. Group bookings - they do cater for coach parties and school parties, offering a light lunch if you pre book. It is advisable to book as the tea room only seats up to 60 persons, so you may need to reserve some tables. They also offer holiday accommodation for let, for those of you who wish to visit Shropshire for your holiday (I will highly recommend a holiday over here as we really enjoyed our stay at home tourist holiday). There are three cottages which are located in the estates grounds which they let out throughout the year; they all date from the 19th century, although the buildings are beautiful and old from what I could see on the internet, the insides are all tastefully decorated with modern furniture, including a television, washing machine and a tumble dryer. Once again they keep the family in mind and offer a cot and highchair if required. Disability - I have briefly mentioned the accessibility earlier, but just too quickly reflect and tie this up, I will recap here. There are ramps at all the entrances like the shop and the main house; they also offer a limited number of wheelchairs for hire should you need to use one for the grounds. Only the ground floor is accessible for wheelchair access and some of the grounds, they do provide you with a map of the wheelchair friendly routes for you to enjoy. I did notice when reading the literature on the holiday cottages that they have steep staircases, so I don't feel that these are wheelchair friendly. Toilet facilities and disabled parking is available but you do park very close to the house anyway, unlike some stately homes where you have to park a long way from the house. ~~How to get there~~ There is a bus service from Kidderminster available, There are some cycling routes available to get you onto the grounds; you can find these by checking the National Cycle Network website. It is not too far from Hampton Loade and the Severn Valley railway in Kidderminster if you wanted to incorporate that into your visit. The main entrance is located off the A442 between Bridgnorth and Kidderminster in a small village called Quatt. For your Sat Nav the address is Dudmaston Estate Quatt Nr Bridgnorth Shropshire WV15 6QN If you need to contact them for any reason Their phone number is 01746 780866 Fax - 01746 780744 their email is email@example.com ~~Opening times and Prices~~ They are open between from the beginning of April to the end of September, the house being open between 1400hrs and 1730hrs on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sundays. The gardens are open on a further day which is a Monday and this is available between 1200 and 1800hrs. The shop opens at 12.30 on all the four days closing at the same time as the house, again the tea room is open on the four days, but opens at 1130hrs and closes at 1730hrs. Prices for the house, gardens and the grounds Adults is £7.35 (6.65 with gift aid) Child is £3.70 (3.35 with gift aid) Family £18.40 (16.70 with gift aid) If you want the grounds and gardens only the prices for 2010 are Adults £5.80 (5.25 with gift aid) Child £2.90 (2.60 with gift aid) Family £14.50 (13.15 with gift aid) ~~Conclusion~~ What more can I say, if you enjoy country estates and beautiful houses as much as I do then you will love it here, but I would recommend going on a dryer day so that you can appreciate all that it has to offer. I like the way that all National Trust properties try to make sure that there is something for everyone of all ages, making it more family friendly and encouraging younger generations to learn to love and teach them about the wonderful British Heritage we have in our lovely country. I hope as a nation we continue to visit and preserve our nations treasured buildings and grounds, if you ever get to visit the area then please pay this lovely home a visit. Many thanks for taking the time to read my review Lyn x (Arnoldhenryrufus).