March 23rd, 2011

Dunham Massey

The house- 18th century- but built on an older footing- looks lovely reflected in the waters of its moat but is dreary on the inside. It belonged to a family called Grey who- apart from producing Lady Jane- the nine day's Queen- and signing the death warrant of Charles I- have barely troubled the pages of English history. The last Earl bowed out, childless,  in the 1970s,  leaving behind an atmosphere of defeat. There are a  lot of bad pictures, a lively Mengs and one excellent Guercino- all in need of a good clean. There are fancy dress costumes from the 20s and 30s and mementoes of the coronation of George VI- which seems to have been positively the last occasion on which the Greys got to shimmer on the public stage.  The invitation to the coronation of the present queen was apparently never posted.  The girl who was cleaning the splendid 18th century books in the snug little library (a contract that is coming to an end after five years) said most of them have never been opened. 
The grounds are lovely- gardens, old trees, canals,  lakes and a spacious deer park. If you have deer you can dispense with mowing machines.