Trip Report – Stanway House (August 2014)

We were so lucky with the weather for this day trip. Had we gone 24 hours later we would have been soaked. An umbrella-defying downpour in Clent coincided exactly with the time when we were rejoining the coach after a relaxed lunch stop in Stow on the Wold.

The weather gods must have recognised our righteousness and we had a lovely day!

Stanway has a long history of 800 years under Tewksbury Abbey and another 500 under the family that holds the house now. We began with a visit to the mill which has been functioning on that site for over 1000 years, originally as a fulling mill and later, following the decline of the wool industry, as a flour mill. We climbed three floors, crossed a small bridge and found we were standing on a hill close to a small pond that would feed the overshot wheel. Up there we had an excellent view of the roof of the mill now attractively restored using traditional napped Cotswold stone, taken from a quarry on the estate and graduated from large to smaller stones at the ridgeline. The roof was a thing of real beauty as also was the woodwork inside the mill. As our tour was almost over the miller released the force of the water and the wheel began to spin rapidly. We could hear and feel the power of the water as the whole mill seemed to groan and shake as the water fell onto the wheel, huge cogs began to turn and the mill stones ground the flour. We were mesmerised by the power and the machinery. Some of us bought freshly milled flour to use in our own bread-making at home.

The house, largely Jacobean, is built of Cotswold stone, and holds its age in a natural and beautiful way. We loved its quirkiness and the atmosphere that comes only when a house is lived in. The dog leads were on a windowsill, there were family photos, and there were drink bottles and even cans on the sideboard in rooms with Romneys on the wall next to stunning 17Century tapestries, all cheek by jowl along with a pair of elaborately carved & draped day beds by Chippendale. Although these day beds were of startling quality, like lots of other things in the house they had only been moved there from the main family house when they fell out of favour. Stanway was something of a ‘holiday home’ furnished with what passed for bits and pieces!

After a lovely tea we enjoyed the spectacle of the fountain being fired. It is the second highest fountain in Europe and is truly spectacular. Those who climbed the cascade were rewarded by the sight of a serene length of canal, complete with swans and then the fountain shooting up from the centre of the canal. With the moving curtain of spray, against a very blue sky, we were able to enjoy quite majestic vistas as back drops to the fountain. It was a splendid end to a good day.

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