I’ve been visiting quite a few National Trust areas lately, and the latest one was the stunning Arlington Court. This jewel is placed right on the edge of Exmoor and the estate belonged to the Chichester family for over 500 years. Impressive. Quick little history lesson on the Chichesters: Sir Francis Chichester (1901-1972), born in Devon, was an adventurer at heart. He set many records as an aviator and a seaman. He was the first person to complete an all around-the-world solo trip and was welcomed by 250,000 people when he returned to Plymouth after setting the new record of 274 days and 28,500 mile journey. Having achieved such an incredible adventure, he was appointed a Knight Commander of The Order of The British Empire.
The National Trust took over the estate after the last member of the family, Miss Rosalie Caroline Chichester, passed away. Her urn stands overlooking the lake which is said to have been one of her favourite places.
To visit the estate make sure you know the times that everything opens and shuts- everything apart from the ground footpaths closes at five. The prices are slightly annoying, although they vary depending on what you actually want to do. To get entry into the whole property which includes the house, it’ll cost the following- Adult: £11.00, Child: £5.50, Family: £27.50. To get entry into the Carriage museum and gardens (includes the estates footpaths) will be £8.90 for adults and £4.45 for children. I personally thought that the price is reasonable for what you get (I got the cheaper version because I wasn’t overly fussed about going into the manor house). We spent the whole day there, as we were constantly busy.
My parents and I arrived at about half 11 and we were ready to leave at half 6. I wasn’t bored once as I was taking loads of pictures and taking in the amount of history that exists at the estate.
The carriage museum was very impressive as it proudly shows off a collection of over 40 British carriages. I was very taken surprised by how well preserved they all were, while acknowledging the fact that they’re all at least 100 years old. Not going to lie, I really wanted to sit in one. For obvious reasons you weren’t aloud to touch any of the carriages. Although on a few there were little ladders which you could use to climb up and take a peak inside them. This was fun.
To keep children amused, there were various interactive points to give an insight into the history. My favourite one was General Tom Thumbs carriage. It was amazingly tiny and just perfect.
In a separate dark room they hold their greatest piece in the carriage collection. An aristocratic royal carriage. Because the carriage still belongs to the royal family there were rules against pictures being taken in the room, so sadly I was not allowed to capture the stunning gold plated carriage, however, there are pictures on the National Trust website. I would’ve liked to get inside of that carriage.
After the museum we went to the tea room, which offered a variety of cold food and lovely cream teas. There’s a peacock wandering around the grounds so keep an eye out for it!
The estate covers over 20 miles of footpaths that can be explored. It took me at least an hour and a half to do the walk around the estate. The paths are very relaxed and fairly easy to do, although there are a few steepish hills which will give you leg aches.
We left the gardens for last, because although it’s not big the gardens are colourful and very pretty as it has a water feature and a cute glasshouse. My dad struck up a conversation with one of the workers and while they were chatting about the estate, life and politics, I was taking advantage of the scorching sun (hottest day of the year) and pretty much started sunbathing on the grass. No dignity left. Also I saved a couple of bees from dying of heat exhaustion so that was my good deed of the day!
Walking through the gardens was really peaceful, and was pleasantly surprised when I found a small doorway, leading to another garden (this second garden was more vegetable based). It was like The Secret Garden movie! Loved it.
I have been considering perhaps becoming a member of the National Trust family by purchasing the annual membership. The price varies depending on whether you want an individual membership (£64.80 a year or £5.40 a month), a joint one (£108 annually or £9.00 monthly), or a family one (£114.60 annually, or £9.55 monthly). Now, I originally thought that this meant that it would be a specific place that you could get the membership with, for example, only with Arlington Court, however, after asking the staff about this they assured me that this will give you free entry to over 500 places, alongside free parking at the majority of the car parks, a handbook of things to do when you visit these places, a National Trust magazine subscription and regular newsletters about news and events. I think having the membership is a plus and considering the entry price at most parks are at least £8.00, I think that if you’re a fan of visiting national trust places, it’ll be better in the long term to get this membership.
Arlington Court, National Trust information: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/arlington-court-and-the-national-trust-carriage-museum