A couple of weeks ago one of my best pals and I were in desperate need of some friend time, a bit of light relief, and some beauty and adventure to reinvigorate ourselves. The Midlands area has some really wonderful places to see, and we are uncovering new gems all the time (well, new to us at any rate!). Big adventures are grand, but little ones can be just as exciting and rewarding, and filling as many weekends as possible with day trips out is a great way to revitalise yourself after a hard week at work.
After lunch in Ironbridge, we decided to go to Benthall Hall, a 16th Century country house in Shropshire (now managed by The National Trust). It was a radiantly sunny day as we drove along country roads, passing some lovely wildflower meadows. We missed the proper turning that would take us to the Hall and ended up going down a very narrow and winding country track – so narrow that I could just about fit my car down it, with the hedgerows touching both sides at times. But, as is often the way of life, the unexpected detour proved to be so worth it!
We had to drive slowly due to the narrowness and the many twists and turns, and in doing so I got to pay attention to some of the most beautiful rural scenery I have seen in a while. When you are the designated driver the vistas often pass by in a blur, so I was glad of the opportunity to take it all in. Farm houses were scarce, so mostly we felt as though there was no one around but us. Fields of crops stretched for miles, dotted with wildflowers and aged trees. I felt like I had stumbled into a glorious pocket of forgotten country, or some lazy corner of The Shire on a summer afternoon. (As you may know, I seem to define more and more of my life in terms of The Lord of the Rings these days!)
It was both refreshing and soothing to see such a sight. In fact, I could have wandered through that land all day before camping out under an old tree and looking at the stars! Eventually we arrived at Benthall Hall, which is a very attractive house surrounded by stunning gardens and meadows. The grounds are divided into different areas: a well tended and cultivated garden, the kitchen garden and orchard, and a “wilderness”.
The inside of the house is open for viewing with some very interesting artwork and furniture pieces which are worth a look. Archaeological surveys have revealed that the area was occupied as far back as the Anglo-Saxon conquest – leading to the conclusion that the Benthall family may have occupied the site for over a millennia – but the current house itself is 16th Century, and its interior décor even more recent than that.
Dark Age history absolutely fascinates me, so I was enthralled to learn of the Anglo-Saxon connection. But, what really made an impression on me was the visual beauty of this place. Petals drifted like confetti from the apple trees, whilst chickens roamed around the kitchen garden. Crops such as runner beans were beginning to sprout their blossoms, and bees buzzed with much activity over the various blooms. Passing under the orchard trees, we wandered into the “wilderness” of wildflowers lit by dappled sunlight peeking through the tall trees above.
When it was time to go home, it was very hard to drag myself away. My friend and I stood and looked over the vista (top photo) for a long time before reluctantly getting back into the car. Back on the proper road, it was only a short time before we re-entered civilisation, breaking the spell somewhat, but our mini adventure has definitely left a lasting impression on me.
It was a wonderful day out for us, and one that I would definitely recommend. The beauty of Britain is that there are so many historical and natural treasures to take in! I am biased, of course, but the Midlands area really does have some of the most beautiful country! If you are interested, you can get the information about Benthall Hall here
Happy day tripping!