Sunday, 22 September 2013

They Came, They Saw, They Did a Little Shopping.

Yesterday Soo and I headed out on day trip to a local stately home Rousham House. Whilst the gardens are open to the public the house itself is not, it is still a private family home and is not actually open to the public except for occasional booked tour parties.

I have wanted to go there for quite some time now, ever since my parents moved to the village where they currently live. Just outside the village there are some stone gate posts and a tree lined avenue that leads to nothing more than a cow field.
 I did a little research and found the house that the trees used to lead to burnt down in the English Civil War, it was owned by the same family who owned Rousham House and was a 'sister' house to it. I was longing to see Rousham in the flesh and imagine what might have stood on that cow field back in the day of Cavaliers and Roundheads, a period that I am very interested in.

I was not disappointed.
The house has been extended in the Victorian era but otherwise it was perfect for the era.
As a Royalist family there were various precautions, like the solid oak doors with a row of holes hidden by a cover that you could push aside, stick your musket through and blast away at any Roundheads who happened to come charging the door!

The house was fascinating and very much still a family home. Somehow this made it so much easier to imagine all the different eras from the ringlet-ed, wide skirted royalist miss to the glamorous 1930's dame drinking iced cocktails on the lawn.

Having said that, sadly it is clearly a house in decline, it was freezing cold and clammy inside despite it being mild outside, and the guide freely admitted damp, mould and moths are ongoing issues. There were many wonderful artifacts pretty much crumbling before your eyes and that was heartbreaking. Especially the clothes. I couldn't help feeling that instead of having all these wonderful outfits falling to pieces in the loft that perhaps selling a few would mean money could be spent on the house where it was needed and this amazing 15th, 16th & 17th century clothing would be properly preserved.

Anyway, I must explain how we found ourselves on this special tour. Soo had been sent an email link by a friend so we signed up, paid our fee and turned up in time for the before tour tea and biscuits in the car park.
It quickly transpired that this was a business woman's group primarily set up for the purposes of networking and as neither of us has a business we did feel a little out of place, sort of there under false pretenses!

So once the tour of the house was done and the group was free to tour the grounds at will, I'm afraid we were very antisocial and sneaked off on our own to ramble about and gossip to our heart's content.
There were statues galore, all gloriously intact, clearly there were no Victorian prudes at this house! 
Wonderful kitchen gardens bursting with produce, a knot garden and temples and ponds all wrapped around by the gently flowing river.

We were all done by about 2.30pm so decided to go in hunt of a cup of tea. We ended up in Summertown where after we had had the cup that restores we browsed the charity shops.
There are 2 new retro/vintage charity shops there where the stock, quality and prices varied dramatically.

The Blue Cross one had very random stock and ridiculous prices. I'm sorry but I get so riled by this whole jumping on the vintage bandwagon. 'Oh it's vintage so it must be worth a fortune'  and irrespective of the fact that it might be stained or damaged beyond repair it gets a £50 price tag! Also last year's Primark tea dress might look vintage but it's not, so why is it there with an equally high price? Ridiculous! It drives me mad, I want to go in there and sort it!

The Helen and Douglas House retro/vintage shop on the other hand is a breath of fresh air. A wonderful mix of eras, all reasonably priced and with faults clearly noted and labelled 'as seen' rather than pointedly ignored. Look at this for a window display, eye catching or what?

There were some incredible hats, but as I have a massive hat none of them fitted.

I did fall in a big way for this glorious green ballgown  but I would never wear such a huge skirted frock, it had yards and yards of billowing skirt. To cut it down seemed criminal so I left it behind.
But by far the most outrageous thing of the day was I bought two Christmas presents. I think I'm still in shock!


  1. What a grand old pile! I'd be prepared to blag for England for a cheap admission price.
    Those dresses are gorgeous, that green one especially! xxx

  2. The house and gardens look gorgeous. The upkeep of stately homes is astronomical, I agree with you it would be better to sell some stuff to preserve the fabric of the building a bit better.
    That green dress looks stunning. Are you quite sure you have no occasion to wear a 1950s ball dress? Saturday, for example! xxxx

    1. Aye I can just see me tripping, literally round Brum in that billowing number! I'm panicking enough as it is over what to wear to meet you glamorous lot.

  3. Lovely. I do love a statue. That green frock is a beauty. Looking forward to meeting you on Saturday...s'gonna be a laugh and a

  4. Dear goodness, I adore that green frock. The subtly tiered bust area is magnificent! That looks like such a stellar shopping outing, dear lady!

    ♥ Jessica