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Monday, June 9, 2014

Chavenage House

It is an old house, an Elizabethan house built in the shape of an E to flatter Queen Elizabeth I of England, who lived from 1533 to 1603.

So, you see, it is an old house.

The rooms are decorated with tapestries, their colours faded to a sickly green. Every single part of the room is covered in tapestry. Parts of the tapestries are threadbare, and one can only imagine 400 years of dust caught amongst the fibres. Petunia gets edgy after 1 week of dust, so 400 years of dust is quite overwhelming. Even though I knew that the carpets were professionally cleaned regularly, I still had vivid visions of dust monsters storming my nostrils performing pillage and rape all the way to my lungs.

Perhaps that is why people invented wallpaper and wall paint? So that they no longer needed to hang cloth on the walls? Can you imagine having to vacuum walls too!?

The history of the house included Oliver Cromwell, leader of the Parliamentarians who actually beheaded an English King (King Charles I). Gee... I didn't know that the English decapitated royalty too. I thought only French people had that bad habit. The English, it appears, went a bit further than decapitation. When the King's head rolled away, many people rushed forwards to cut off a lock of his hair. In English manor houses nationwide, locks of the poor man's hair have been set into pendants, earrings and rings... and kept as family heirlooms. On the table beside the bed, there was just one such heirloom. Poor King, he not only died headless, he also died botak.

Anyway, it appears that the Oliver Cromwell room, where good ol' Ollie stayed for a while, is haunted. The guide mentioned something about a male ghost that stands over the bed staring down at whomever is sleeping there. If you pay 400 pounds sterling, you can sleep in that bed for a night.

It is a beautiful and stately house. I am glad I went for this tour. I had read so much about Elizabethan history that to see actual furniture, tapestries and wood panels dating from that period was exciting. Close my eyes. Imagine.

The ghost stands on the other side of the bed from the man. A painting of Oliver Cromwell hangs on the wall. Note the faded tapestries.

In Elizabethan times, they did not know how to make huge sheets of glass. Each glass pane had to be very small and assembled to fit a big window. That gives rise to the diamond grid shape that decorates many windows from that period.

A rocking horse from the Victorian age.

The dark wood panelling from the Elizabethan era. I very much enjoyed the tour because it made Elizabethan history come alive. Chavenage house is actually LIVED in. The family USES the stuff that you see. The beds, the chairs etc... are actually used as daily furniture. I liked the tour very much but I am not sure I would want to stay there - ghosts and wall hung tapestries.

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