Basildon Park 巴斯爾登莊園
In England there are many beautiful grand houses dating back to a few hundred years ago that are open to the public. Visiting them, takes you back to yesteryears granduer, and you can try to imagine how the aristocrats lived in those days. Today I am going to take you to Basildon Park.
If you are a Downton Abbey fan like me, this house may look familiar. It was actually used as the setting of Lord Grantham’s house in London. If you’ve never watched or heard of Downton Abbey before, never mind, I hope you still enjoy the tour.
Compared to many of the other grand houses in UK, Basildon Park, or rather the actual house itself isn’t very large, but the design is magnificent. The house was built between 1776 and 1783 in a Palladian style. Palladian architecture is based on ancient Greek and Roman temples, with emphasis on symmetry and mathematical proportions.
The main house was never fully completed and during the years, it passed through several owners. By the beginning of 1910 it stood empty and the British government used it as a convalescent home for those injured fighting the First World War.
By the 1950, Basildon House was restored to its former glory, and later donated to the National Trust , a charity organisation in UK that manages many historical buildings. Many of National Trust’s buildings are donated to them by people who have inherited the property but cannot afford the ongoing maintenance. Others donate their property to The National Trust as they have the expertise to manage and preserve it for the future generations to enjoy.
直到1950年代，大宅終於被修復，重現昔日光輝，之後主人更把它送贈 National Trust。 National Trust是一個英國慈善機構，主要是保存和管理歷史悠久的老宅。他們大部份管理的老宅都是由顯赫家族捐贈。有些人可能繼承了老宅後，發現沒有足夠財力去應付大宅的昂貴開支，所以乾脆送給National Trust。另外有些人希望讓National Trust以他們的專業知識及管理方法把老宅好好保存下去，給後人繼續欣賞。
When arriving at Basildon Park you will come up this grand gate and driveway, and through its 162 hectare parkland. I went at the end of March which is still spring time in England and daffodils are in full blossom.
The car park is just a short walk away from the main house.
Basildon House has three floors, and is built as three separate blocks. However it is cleverly designed so that it seems like one big house from the front.
This is Staircase Hall and is located at the centre of the house. The staircase takes you up to the next two floors and there is a gallery which goes around three sides of the house. There’s an elegant yet simple chandelier hanging from the center of the Hall which drops all the way down to the first floor. I could almost imagine the aristocrats coming in and out of this Hall.
這個Staircase Hall 樓梯大堂在大宅的正中央。大樓梯一直伸延到樓上的兩層樓，在二樓圍繞著屋內三面牆壁還建了長廊。中間有一盞清雅的大吊燈從天花板吊到一樓，站在長廊往下望，可以幻想到昔日穿著華衣美服的貴族從這大門口進進出出。
On the ground floor, there is a grand piano, and one of National Trust’s many volunteers was playing some beautiful music on it. Close your eyes and you could almost imagine yourself dancing in a ball with the aristocrats. (Sorry, I’ve been watching too much Downton Abbey!)
This is the Library and would have been one of the main rooms used by the Lord of the house.
In the old days, often the male and female owners would have their separate areas in the house. Here, the Lady’s living room has a much softer and feminine ambience. Even the convenience next to it has a very modest touch.
One of my favourite room in the house is the kitchen. When the house was restored in the 1950’s the kitchen was completely modernised. The food mixer you see you would have been state of the art equipment in those days.
And look at this clever little gadget. Can you guess what it’s for?
It is a pastry cutter. If you roll it along a strip of pastry, it will cut out little pastry discs. Clever!
After we visited the house, we went for a walk around the parkland. There are four different routes ranging from 20 minutes to 2 hours walk. Since we were running a bit late that day, we just did a short walk before we left. If you get a chance to visit Basildon House, don’t forget to try their English afternoon tea before you leave.
參觀完大宅後，我們到戶外的園林散步。 National Trust設計了四條不同的散步徑，從20分鐘到2小時都有，可以跟根據時間，體力選擇一條適合的步道。很可惜，因為當天我不能呆太久，只是很快逛逛就需要離開。但如果你有機會去巴斯爾登莊園的話，在園林散步完，切記一定要嘗試他們的傳統英式下午茶。
Basildon House is located at Reading, 64km west of Heathrow Airport and takes about 1 hour to drive from Heathrow.