Monday, November 13, 2017

VISITS: Highlights of Highclere Castle

Back in May, I provided a brief overview of this year’s UK trip, which centered around London and areas close by. One of our stops was at Highclere Castle, the home of Lord and Lady Carnarvon, and the house made famous by the Downton Abbey TV Series. Thankfully, the great success of the show has increased the number of visitors over the years to such an extent that many needed repairs have been made. Ongoing restoration continues, and many educational and tourist programs have been added as well.

A little rain shower did not diminish my daughter's enthusiasm for the tour.
While perhaps not my first choice, I succumbed to the desires of my wife and daughter to go see the house, which I had first read about in Mark Girouard’s book, The Victorian Country House. Designed by architect Charles Barry, and featuring a park designed by Capability Brown. The 5,000-acre estate is in Hampshire, about 5 miles south of Newbury, Berkshire. Reportedly the original site of the home was recorded in the Domesday Book, and the first house was built on the foundations of the medieval palace of the Bishops of Winchester, who owned this estate from the 8th century. Highclere has been home to the Earls of Carnarvon and their forebears since 1679.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Tudor House Continues to Serve Portage Lakes as a Community Treasure


When Frank Mason, a senior executive of the B. F. Goodrich, built this grand home on Turkeyfoot Lake and gave it to his grandson and his newlywed wife, Zeletta Robinson, he may not have dreamed that it would one day be a local civic center. Today, the Frank Mason Raymond home—known locally as Tudor House—or the Franklin park Civic Center, continues to charm guests as a serves as a popular wedding, meeting and banquet facility, often available without charge to non-profit organizations.

Located at 655 Latham Lane, in the Portage Lakes area of New Franklin, the beautiful 20-room, 2 ½ story, brick and stucco mansion sits on 5.8 acres, adjacent to Portage Lakes State Park, and has 335 feet of frontage on the west shore of the lake.

Friday, November 3, 2017

OUT FRONT: Fences and Flower Beds

Nothing like a fresh coat of white paint.
As I noted in my previous post, I regret not getting more done this summer around the house. What did get done focused mostly on the backyard and pool area; while my efforts to get the front lawn back in order bore some fruit, it was not until September that I was really able to get to work on the front of the house.

As I noted in previous posts, I have been working to restore the fence that flanks both sides of the house. I was finally able to complete the restoration of the large post at the west side, and then continued sanding and repainting all the fence pickets in-between. As of this writing, I have completed three of the eight 8-foot sections of fencing. With the sides facing the front of the house, I applied a very high-quality latex, working it in with a brush; I may use my new paint sprayer for the rest, to save time.

Just need to define this flower bed a little more...
I think I have re-painted this fence maybe twice in 25 years; this was by far the most complete wire-brush-and-sanding job that I have ever done, so hopefully it will last for a while. The treated cross beams are fine; a few of the cedar pickets (especially where they have been in contact with the ground) have seen some rot. This will be hidden by a treated 1” x 4” that I am adding at the bottom, which will not only look better buy hold back some of the soil and mulch I am adding in front.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Pox Upon Both Your Houses

Similar treatment. Totally different plan.
I recently came across this Toronto Star story about two couples in Canada who were involved in a lawsuit regarding the appearance of their houses. Apparently the owners of a 1935-era Tudor Revival home—which they had spent a lot of money to renovate in 2006—had many of its features “copied” by owners of a newly-built neighboring house nearby. The owners of the older home sued the couple who built the new house for $1.5 million in damages, including $20,000 in copyright damages and $1 million in punitive damages.
The owners of the existing home claimed that the neighbors copied a number of features from their home, including similar gray stonework, the same shade of blue on the windows, similar treatments in the gables and other unique design cues that made their house “one of the most well-known and admired houses in the neighborhood” - according to the lawsuit.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Another Summer Come and Gone...

Sadly, this summer ended up being far less productive than I had hoped. Reviewing my “to-do” list of items that needed addressing, it seems I have only been able to complete a few of them. Now there is only the hope that the coming Fall may serve to be a more productive season as far as the house is concerned.

No, this is not the reason for my lack of productivity. A nice addition to my tiki bar, thanks to the good people at Windsor & Eton Brewery.
A large part of this was due to our trip to the UK in mid-May; between holiday planning and the weather upon our return, this set me back about 3-4 weeks in terms of my usual summer work schedule. In recent years, we’ve been able to open the pool during the first week of May, with another week or two after that to handle annual chores like cleaning the patios, doing touch-up painting on the decks and some outdoor furniture—which all has to be hauled out of storage—tidying up the perennial beds, setting up our tiki bar on the back deck and bringing all the seasonal decorative items out of the garage, shed and basement. This is then followed by planting of tropical-looking annuals in beds and in pots all around the pool.

Monday, June 12, 2017

OLD BOOKS, NEW REVIEWS: Country Life 1897-1997 The English Arcadia

Once again we take a brief moment to talk about one of the books in our collection; I have wanted this for some time, but was only recently able to obtain it on Ebay for a low price. Always a great fan of Country Life, I collected many issues years ago when it was commonly available at the local news stand (I never could bring myself to spring for an annual subscription) and I still keep some of these scattered about in the house. Lacking more recent issues, I was happy to report a successful effort to grab a single copy at Heathrow before we returned home from our recent UK trip.

I finished reading this book right before we left, and though it certainly relates a lively and interesting story of the magazine’s history and significance, it does an excellent job of weaving that history into a vivid panorama of Britain during the last 100 (now 120) years. It’s hard for me to imagine that this book has actually been out for so long; nevertheless, the subject matter is as essential today as it was in 1997. With a fairly substantial production run, it is still easily available from online booksellers such as Amazon and Abebooks.