Thursday, 5 August 2010

A trip back in time

Into "Narfolk" today for another day out, and the first stop was Oxburgh Hall. A wonderful red-brick Tudor mansion with beautiful rooms and interesting displays, each area being introduced by a volunteer helper. Amongst the documents on view was a letter from Henry VIII to Lady Bedingfield telling her that she was to be the chief mourner at the funeral of Katherine of Aragorn. After watching some of the BBC series "The Tudors" I looked at this letter with a somewhat cynical eye. A climb up the circular stairs and the view from the roof of one of the turrets was lovely.

Then to the nearby Iceni Village which promised so much but failed to deliver. I don't doubt the time and energy spent in building the replica huts and stockade, but using badly-dressed shop mannequins to populate it was an error of not only judgement but also taste.

They were crass, and what could have been an interesting display of farm equipment and old carriages was destroyed by the ramshackle outbuildings used to house them.

The 17th century cottage was better, but again spoilt by a dummy seated at the table in the parlour.

So much more could have been made of the semi-ruined Saxon church, but it just looked abandoned.

The whole set-up place has seen better days, and it wasn't really worth the entrance fee. Actually, thinking about it, it was rubbish. In these days of interactive displays and audio-visual technology, a wooden hut with a few printed signs and a dummy standing lopsidedly in the corner really doesn't cut it.

A swift drink at the interestingly named village pub - "The Twenty Churchwardens" - no food available as we were too late, and the liquid libation was accompanied by the telling of a tale by an elderly gentleman at the bar .... "'ee were alroight the night before. Oi'd been sitting with 'im in the pub and 'ee were very merry and enjoying 'isself ... the next day I saw Bert and 'ee said that oi'd miss me old friend ... oi said what do 'ee mean? and 'ee said that he'd topped 'imself during the night - taken prussic acid, 'ee 'ad....."

From there it was a visit to Grime's Graves on the return route. A wander across the undulating ground and a descent into the only open flint mine down a long ladder. An interesting venture, and no doubt great for children to run around, but not a lot else to see.

In fact, Oxburgh was the best of the bunch, and we got in free with our National Trust membership.

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