7 August 2012

Hampshire mini-break - Day 2 - Mottisfont, Winchester and the Wind in the Willows

After spending most of the first day of our mini-break at Petworth House, we decided to spend the second one pottering around Mottisfont, Ramsey, and Winchester - including a visit to Winchester City Mill

Mottisfont is currently playing host to an exhibition of original illustrations from the well-loved children's book The Wind in the Willows. Looking round the exhibition was a real blast from the past; I think several of the stories have been lurking somewhere in my subconscious for the last two decades- and seeing the beautifully detailed drawings brought back a lot of nice memories. 

The house itself was beautiful too- and we found out some very interesting things from chatting to the volunteers stationed in each room. Such as; the artist who painted the main drawing room used to paint for theatre productions - something that was rather obvious from all the fake curtain pelmets and pillars circling the walls. The room was unfinished when he was called up to serve in the war (WWII, I think)- so he painted a tiny paint pot and brush at the top of one of the pillars, as his promise that he would come back and finish his work. Sadly, he was killed in the war and therefore never came back to finish painting the room. 

We also spotted some suspiciously even cracks and tiny half-hidden keyholes in the floor-to-ceiling bookcases in the study. I went rushing off to find a guide and find out what was behind the bookcases- hoping for a secret room or a passageway down to some hidden dungeons. Turns out that the family who owned the house had a huge art collection that they rotated between being on display, and being stored in special units behind the bookcases. Curiouser and curiouser :)

I've picked a few of my favourite shots from Mottisfont below; 

"There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats"

We spent the afternoon in Winchester. I've never been there before, but ended up falling a little in love with it. Huge fancy cathedral, whimsical metalwork, and a working water mill? What's not to love? :)

The mill has a viewing platform right over the water wheel, so the water rushes underneath your feet at what seems like a billion miles an hour. Tom was trying to teach me how to take longer exposure photos to track the movement of the water; not very successfully- but that was definitely due to my impatience as a student, not his teaching skills. 

We were lucky enough to stumble across a brilliant (free!) photography exhibition in the local library; which certainly inspired us both to keep on taking photos of our adventures. 

Have you ever been to Winchester? Are there any places we might've missed that you'd recommend we visit next time?

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