Picture this. Autumn colours at Arlington Court…

04 Oct

This weekend I’ve once again been playing host to my old friend Ho, who has been taking a well earned break from a frantic work schedule to join me for a spot of relaxation in the beautiful autumnal Devon countryside.
This time we decided to take a stroll around the extensive grounds of Arlington Court, ancestral home of the Chichester family for over 500 years.


The house itself is an imposing stone built mansion, surrounded by rolling lawns, lakes, and woodlands, criss-crossed with pathways that lead you to various viewpoints overlooking not only the gloriously varied vistas of the estate but also the picturesque church of St James (not owned by the Trust, but adjacent to the house) which just happened to be staging a flower festival at the time of our visit.


We began our tour on the front lawn of the house, heading down to the ornamental lake, stocked with lazily cruising carp and topped with a proliferation of water lilies, pausing on the way to admire the splendor of an ancient oak tree that has stood on the site since well before the house or grounds existed.
The tree is preserved primarily for the scientifically important and internationally recognised variety of lichen, moss and fungi that festoon its gnarled and twisted trunk.




The church is just visible through the trees that overlook the lake, providing a focal point for visitors, an invitation to investigate the hidden beauty of the peaceful sanctuary as you make your way round the estate.


But before we headed into the cool vaulted space of the flower-strewn chapel we made our way down the shady path amongst the trees to discover what the woods had to offer.


Before too long we came upon a small camp in a clearing, complete with a traditional clay oven beneath the billowing folds of a parachute canopy, along with rustic huts constructed from sticks salvaged from the woodland floor.




The woods have the quiet atmosphere of a primeval forest, rotting trees left where they fell, allowing the verdant moss to take hold and making perfect burrows for small animals and insects, creating shapes that look for all the world like the backbones of long-dead dinosaurs or mythical dragons.



Occasionally a gate or stile will allow a view across the cattle grazing fields of the deer park, to the densely wooded slopes of the valley, the trees starting to display the muted tones of autumn foliage.



We retraced the path back to the lake and made for the tower of the church, immediately seeing signs of the floral attraction within…



…already catching the scent of the expertly designed bouquets before we even entered the light and airy space of St James’s, the vibrant colours of hundreds of flowers perfectly complimenting the stained glass windows and ornamental carvings on the walls.








Our final two stops were at the formal and walled kitchen gardens, the latter of which provides fresh produce for the house and its cafe.
There was even an imperious peacock to welcome us to his domain, although he didn’t seem keen on me taking his picture and I required several stealthy attempts to capture him in all his iridescent glory.





There is even an “insect hotel” high-rise apartment block for bees and other pollinators…

…and there is always something intriguing around the next corner or through the next inviting door.




…and of course the Chichester family symbol, a heron grappling with an eel, is in evidence everywhere.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable visit to a place that I’m sure I’ll visit again and again, because there is always something new to discover.

Arlington Court house and gardens are open until the end of October, I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys relaxing amidst spectacular scenery, basking in the more genteel atmosphere of days gone by and leaving the stresses and strains of modern life behind for a few hours.


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13 responses to “Picture this. Autumn colours at Arlington Court…

  1. steph

    October 5, 2014 at 01:52

    Some of your photos really do look like an ancient and magical setting. The tree with the ivy looks incredible!

    • dalecooper57

      October 5, 2014 at 02:02

      Thank you Steph, it’s a wonderful place that I’ve been to a lot, there’s so much to discover. It was also the setting for the first Startrek night hike I took part in.

  2. Ho

    October 5, 2014 at 21:46

    Fabulous photos as always Dale ( great peacock pic ! ). Many thanks again for your splendid autumnal hospitality.

    • dalecooper57

      October 5, 2014 at 21:51

      Cheers Ho, good to see you again. By the way, I inadvertently deleted the photo of the two of us by the sequoia, any chance you send me your version?

  3. flmabon

    October 6, 2014 at 12:53

    Absolutely Stunning! Thanks for sharing!

    • dalecooper57

      October 6, 2014 at 13:42

      You’re welcome Bonnie, glad you liked it.

  4. jerseylil

    November 4, 2014 at 08:53

    Beautiful, love all photos, Dale! That’s an awesome place to visit, and it really does look magical. That peacock, gorgeous as he is, did not want his picture taken LOL! But you got a great shot of his colors.

    • dalecooper57

      November 5, 2014 at 00:33

      Thanks Lil, it is a wonderful place that always has something new to offer

  5. saminaiqbal27

    November 9, 2014 at 02:42

    Beautiful photos and the place looks so lovely, seems like a peaceful setting. The peacock looks awesome. Thanks for sharing your lovely experience with us. 😄

  6. BigD

    November 21, 2014 at 19:05

    You make that place sound magical. I love the idea of a “hotel” for bees too.

  7. Charlotte Hoather

    December 8, 2014 at 16:06

    Wow, great photos, the photo 10 down I’m telling my brothers and Dad instead of the wigwam we usually make in the forest we need to get more adventurous.

    • dalecooper57

      December 8, 2014 at 16:26

      Thanks Charlotte, it’s a magical place for a camp, that’s for sure.


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