Images of knights of old were conjured up by the property’s name in the National Trust’s handbook. Mr Word Loft and I hadn’t been to Knightshayes in Devon before but realised, after reading about it, that there wasn’t a connection with metal-armoured men wielding swords.

The Gothic Revival house, surrounded by formal gardens, woodland, and parkland hosting ancient and national champion trees sounded fascinating.  

We arrived and headed down the driveway where the verdant landscape is a spectacular sight.

The stable block at the entrance is impressive, with its small Rapunzel-style tower. I didn’t expect the inside to comprise a café, gift shop, secondhand book room, and plant sales area.

After checking the map, we ambled to the walled kitchen garden, with its micro-climates. It’s the largest I’ve been in and it was an essential source of food during World War Two. These days, it’s active in the preservation of heritage tomatoes, and I was amazed to see bananas growing by a south-facing wall.

It was a hot day, and the house was cool with its dark dramatic façade and shadowed interior. Very atmospheric! All were gained from assets attained from the lacemaking industry via the Heathcote-Amory family at the end of the 19th century. The architect, William Burgess was employed but his work was too extravagant and wasn’t to their liking.

John Dibble Crace replaced him and completed the interior, but the Heathcote-Amorys weren’t happy with the designer’s efforts, either. Years later workmen accidentally discovered his decorative accomplishments which had been hidden. They were revealed and restored by the National Trust to show the rich bold colours seen today.

Owners have had a shared interest in art, although some pictures have been transferred to the National Gallery. But the collection of majolica ceramics remains in the Octagon Room and is exquisite. The dining room is most impressive, its central light fitting particularly striking and would look elegant gracing a contemporary setting.

There is a conservatory café serving ice cream. What better place to relax with a caramel-salted variety while deliberating what path to take?

The gardens are sectioned off by hedges, with topiaries at archway openings leading to lawns edged with vibrant shrubs and blooms. Stone benches and statues bestow charm, but the best experience was at one of the ponds.

An audience had gathered, enthralled by turquoise damselflies hovering as if by magic over ripples created by pond hoppers, along with pairs of dragonflies as they danced in the air and then dived into the water. It was difficult to drag ourselves away, and Mr Word Loft was in his element experimenting with a new camera lens.

I was quite pleased with the photographs I took, too. If you would like to see them, then please take a look at my social media accounts. Facebook (wordloftuk), Instagram (wordloftuk), and Twitter (SueC_WordLoft).

Until next time,
Sue. X