on November 9, 2012
Tatton Park is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon. We visited because they had an "Apple Day" with a series of apple themed events going on. They always have a lot of things going on here, but there are acres of beautiful grounds to stroll and enjoy the scenery.Tatton Park is close to the town of Knutsford in Cheshire, but is also conveniently located to the M6 motorway, so it is easy to get to. It is a huge estate, the grounds are enormous and stretch for miles. In addtion you can visit the Old Hall, see lovely landscaped gardens as well as a farm and adventure playground.We drove through the grounds, past the deer to the car park. Entrance is free if you are a National Trust member, but even members have to pay the £5 car parking charge. It was extremely busy when we got to the car park, but the crowds did thin out as people went their own separate ways.We went into the Old Hall first. Opening times are limited - we were there on a Sunday afternoon and last entrance here was 3pm. It is a self-guided tour through the hall where you explore the very grand rooms at your leisure. This was the one-time home of the Egerton family. There are 2 paintings by Canaletto - unfortunately during our visit these were on loan to a Paris art gallery, as well as countless other treasures. The dining room was set for dinner - very impressive. Apparently the library is one of the National Trust's best - it is not easy to see why - the collection of books is amazing. Look out for the gentleman's reading chair - rather strange!Below stairs, the cellars and kitchen are also very interesting. We saw tram tracks - they used "trams" or carts on tracks to bring coal from one end of this huge house to the other.There are some interesting displays about the Egerton family. The last Lord Egerton was an avid collector of anything and everything. Exhibits from his collections are also on display, every piece has a label in his handwriting. There were lots of African artefacts and even a piece of a meteorite. During World War I he couldn't travel to Africa, so started instead to collect trees and seeds and plant them in the grounds. Stroll around the gardens and see evidence of this today - the collection of trees is beautiful.After exploring the house, we walked through the landscaped gardens. They had "Apple Day" events going on here. In the greenhouse, you could sample and eat many different types of apples - many of them are ancient varieties you can no longer buy in the shops. They also had an activity trail for children around the kitchen garden with clues to solve. A lady dressed as a bumble bee was also doing apple painting and making butterflies for children who wanted to join in with this.The Japanese garden is especially beautiful - the topiary is wonderful. Just being in the gardens though and gazing at the golden autumnal colours was a real treat. Our son enjoyed the little maze in the middle of the gardens, then worked off any spare energy in the wonderful adventure playground close to the car park.
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