We decided to use our new National Trust membership yesterday with a late visit to Clumber Park.
There is no house now. After a number of problems, including fires, declining fortune and death duties the house was demolished in 1938. A house that once had 105 rooms (and a dining room that seated 150) was brought to nothing, though statues and fountains were removed for reuse. The contents were sold – the Library sale raised £70,000 and the rest of the contents for £60,000 – a total of £130,000 (around £6,000,000 at 2017 values). There are rumours that the house as rebuilt in Arizona, but nobody can say where.
It wasn’t just a house that disappeared, a whole way of life disappeared along with the houses. It wasn’t just this house that went either. Since 1900 0ver a thousand country houses have been lost. Causes include social change (lack of servants), declining income, taxation (with death duties up to 80%) and damage from the military during the war.
Despite this, there is still plenty to see, including the Chapel (which looks more like a Church to me) and a four acre walled kitchen garden which contains a 450 foot greenhouse and 135 varieties of rhubarb.
How the other half lived
Lake at Clumber Park
Lake at Clumber Park
There is also a Lake, which is what we went to see. It’s 87 acres, so it’s a lot bigger than the duck pond at Arnot Hill.
To be honest, despite the Greek temple and bridge, the lake isn’t that interesting. The bird life was also rather dull – no Mandarin, no cross-breeds and no Pochards. The trees on the lake’s edge did, however, provide food and shelter for a flock of Bramblings, which was worth the trip as I haven’t seen any for years. They have a profile very much like a Chaffinch, and come to visit from Scandinavia each winter.
They kept flying round, making it difficult to count them, but there were about 40 of them. Despite that it was still tricky getting a good photo.
There was also a small flock of Greenfinches masquerading as something interesting.
We’ll have a longer visit next time.
It’s amazing what you find in the shrubbery