Who is the ghostly man concealed amid the Acland family in an oil on canvas picture hanging in the music room? The Pastor’s Fireside was painted in the early 19th century. It isn’t easy to find the artist Henry Singleton, who painted himself in the scene, but his ethereal head and shoulders are there. However, not everyone can see him.

The painting was pointed out by a National Trust guide at the start of our look around Killerton Estate’s Georgian mansion and was a hint of other surprises.

Like the bunch of small whimsical figures hidden around the rooms. A set of ten felt mice who mischievously peep from nooks and artifacts. An ingenious idea, allowing grownups with youngsters more time to take in the arts and décor while the children search. Adults love to see the fabric models propped in unusual spots too. Although, I‘ve been careful not to reveal their whereabouts, so as not to spoil others’ fun.

They add a light-hearted touch amid the grandeur and are a good conversation topic, and I was intrigued by the intricate details of each character. They are stitched by Helen Pullen, and the needlework element fits in with the fashion and textile displays on the first floor. The Active Minds and Busy Bodies fashion exhibition is one of the reasons why Killerton is among my favourite NT properties.

The gardens reveal a story about another intriguing Killerton resident. On top of a mound under trees, there is a wooden cabin. Originally constructed in 1808 as a summerhouse for Lydia, Lady Acland, it later became the home of her grandson’s black bear, Tom. I’m sure the animal didn’t appreciate the three-room living quarters, each with unique flooring. Pebbles, slivers of logs, and deer knuckle bones; how gruesome. And what of the 16th century stained-glass window in the hermit chamber? Still in pristine condition, so it must have been protected from Tom’s movements in his cramped abode. The countryside views from other windows are stunning. I do hope, the bear was taken outside to exercise and enjoy the Devonshire fresh air regularly.

Until next time,
Sue. X