David tells me that when it comes to selecting B&B's in England I am the best. Actually it is pretty easy. I choose ones out in the countryside, either farms or private houses. They must have charm, possibly a nice garden and if they have some antiquity then that is a bonus. West Stow Hall was to fulfill all my requirements.
I couldn't help thinking the tower at Sissinghurst as we pulled into the gravel parking area. As I look back at my photos I am wishing wholeheartedly that I had taken more photos and put more thought into them. The evening sun did pose a little problem.
After taking our bags up to the room we went down to the kitchen for a cup of tea and a piece of cake. Every traveler needs this after a long day. Before getting ready for dinner, which we would eat in the dining room, we went out to stroll around the gardens accompanied by one of their dogs.
Maybe you can just make out the two of us sitting on a bench at the end of the plant lined grass walk. You might have thought he was my very own dog the way he sat down beside me. He must have done this countless times, showing off his lovely garden.
We are unbelievable at the rose climbing high into the tree. We learn it is Rambling Rector.
And our new found friend leads us to show off the new foals in the pasture. He sneaks under the fence to get a closer look himself. The mares know him well but the foals are not too sure.
And another shot of that old rambler. Would that I could grow that to entwine through by own trees.
We can't thank our hostess Eileen enough for making us so welcome. There were two other ladies staying and they joined us for supper. Eileen and Andy, her husband, joined us all as the table in the large dining room.
The surprises were to come the following morning when we are treated to a tour of the house and a history lesson. We begin at the tower which was built around 1530. As the legend goes the house was first leased and then bought in 1540 by a Sir John Croftes. He was purported to have been Master of the Horse to Mary Tudor when she came to live in Suffolk. Her coat of arms seen over the doorway may have been added as a compliment to her.
The daisywheel pattern above the door is a symbol that was used to ward off evil spirits. This pattern was often found carved into the wood mantlepieces to prevent evil spirits from coming down the chimney. We are to learn later about other methods of warding off the evil spirits.
A collonade links the tower with the main part of the house. It is likely that the upper timbers reached to the ground and were later bricked in. This may have been after the moat, which originally surrounded the house, was removed.
But the best surprise of all came when we went up into the house and through their private rooms into the room above the gate house. Paintings depicting the four ages of man decorate the walls around the room. They are thought to have been done in 1575. They were only discovered in the 1800s when the old panelling was removed.
Original carved wood.
Wow! All that history. It leaves you thinking about all visitors might have stepped through that tower gateway. Wish I could step back in time.