Ask any mother what they’d realistically like as a start to Mother’s Day and the classic lie in with a child carrying a wobbly tray, spilling tea and a slice of cold toast is what springs to mind yes?
“Mummy! It’s your day!” came the yell at 7am. A toilet trip and I crawled back into bed while they prepared my breakfast (pain au chocolat I made the night before from one of those fresh tube things). Anyway, despite this louder earlier awakening than I’d hoped, the morning went well and we prepared for an afternoon trip out.
We’ve been to most of the National Trust properties locally but I looked through the book and found Stoneywell in Leicestershire which we’d not been to before. You have to book when visiting, you can’t just turn up as they only take 165 people a day. This is due to the smallness of the house and also because there were objections to the NT taking over so the car park is up the road and a mini bus takes visitors to the door.
Stoneywell is a turn of the century house built in the arts and crafts style for an old chap who had to move out when he couldn’t manage the stairs any more. (If the National Trust want me for a guide I’m available on weekends…) It’s set in rugged hilly countryside and the gardens are in a “tastefully natural with a helping hand” style – lots of heathers, rocky bits, daffs and twisty pathways. S spotted lots of scattered foxgloves too so we may have to come back to see what it’s like in summer.
We went in the house first – entering to a large kitchen-diner with pantry, then climb to the main living room where two friendly ladies were helping the children make foliage based arrangements for their mums (see mine – isn’t it sweet?) The living room had a roaring open fire, sofas, a corner window seat and bookshelves running along the top of the walls. I loved it immediately. All the stairs in Stoneywell are hewn out of the thick stone and slightly hazardous to infirm types but E loved climbing them to the master bedroom. All the rooms had different William Morris material patterns and handsome wooden furniture in them, as well as a lot of bookshelves. It was all very liveable – the bathroom looked nice (just needed a shower), and there were four good sized bedrooms upstairs in, one contained dolls and toys, another had a train set in that ran under the bed and the final one upstairs contained some lovely children’s building blocks made out of stone. They’re not too precious about touching things so E was able to play a little, very gently, which made her very happy.
A walk round the gardens and we found the well and pump, as well as a fort. It was well set out for exploring and clambering about, though we did get caught in a slight snowstorm. We finished off in the tearooms which are very small and just do soup, scones and cakes as well as hot drinks. I should say though, the scones, especially their cheese ones are EXCELLENT and well worth the trip. (If I’d know the Twitter account @nt_scones NationalTrustScones existed at the time I would have taken a picture of these but you’ll just have to take my word for it.)
We really liked Stoneywell, I much prefer these curiosities to the big houses, and the volunteers were all so friendly to us all. Sometimes you get the sense that you are only there to look and gape in awe, (especially if you have a toddler with you) but this isn’t the case at Stoneywell, there’s very much a sense that this is heritage for all of us.