Montacute House in Portra

Montacute House

Montacute House stands in Somerset, it’s a National Trust property and described by them as a “masterpiece of Elizabethan Renaissance architecture and design”. It’s building was completed in 1601 but by 1931 it was offered for sale as scrap, and it was then that it became one of the trusts first major houses.

Phelips Coat of Arms (the red flowers and chevron quarter)

Sir Edward Phelips, whose coat of arms is above, was a massively wealthy man, amongst other things, he was Speaker of the English Parliament from 1604 until 1611. Interestingly it was under Phelips that the “1604 rule” came to be, that’s the one that states the same, (or substantially the same) motion cannot be put forward by a government in the same session. It has only been used 12 times between 1604–1920, but was used again in 2019 with regard to the “Brexit Withdrawal Agreement”! That aside, Phelips had a London house in Chancery Lane, and another in Wanstead, but had Montacute built as a show house of it’s day. I was interested to find out that he was once MP for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis in 1586, my home town!

The Great Hall

In fact Montacute is actually quite small by many standards, just inside the front door is the “Great Hall”, I’ve stood in many a great deal larger! I was quite pleased with the images inside as I was using Portra 160, not overly fast for an interior!

Bedroom Ghost!

On the first floor there are bedrooms, in one I came across a monk with a Pentax digital camera on a tripod, as you do! A quick chat revealed that like me, he was a keen amateur photographer, and making double exposures, to make himself appear “ghost like”! This level now houses many paintings on loan from the National Portrait Gallery, moved down from the grand gallery for lower lighting levels and safety. I enjoyed looking but didn’t see the point in trying to photograph them myself!

Bathroom in a wardrobe!

A modern addition was a bathroom in a wardrobe! I’m assuming 1800’s sometime.

The long gallery

The long gallery, runs across the entire top floor of the house, one side to the other. In fact, at 172 feet, it’s the longest in England. Built for guests and ladies to be able to exercise and parade their fashions of the day, without having to go outside and get wet and muddy – this is England after all! Apparently archery also took place here – no wonder they moved the paintings downstairs!

The Orangery

Outside the Orangery was a late comer and built in 1840, inside, rather than orange trees, ferns!

Inside the Orangery

The Parterre garden is a rare survivor of an Elizabethan Garden but rather than rebuild the whole thing the NT gardeners have decided to just mow the outline into the grass, and leave it to wild flower meadow – I think I like that!

The Parterre Garden
The Tulips are out!

A quick walk past the tulips took me to the inevitable tea room. It was lunch time so I had a rather excellent steak pasty and coffee – it’s hungry work looking at old houses! I love the quality of the Portra film, although at it’s current price it will never be my workaday choice. I’m also pleased that I’m finally beating my new scanner’s software into submission and getting something like a decent scan. I can’t say I’m “happy” with them yet, but I’m satisfied!

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