Waxing Historical

It is thanks to my mother that I am a confirmed visitor of historical monuments.  My father was often away at sea and she was ever looking for inexpensive ways to keep my sister & me busy at weekend so she had a National Trust membership, for which she truly got her money’s worth.  I think that my earliest stately home memory is of Cotehele in Cornwall when I was 6.  I must hasten to say that these visits were never boring, even for a 6-year old, as my mother has an astonishing memory for the “naughty bits” of history.

We would wander from room to room and she’d point out things like commodes and explain how they were used – you can imagine how funny the mental imagery of a grown up sitting on the loo in public was for children; the subjects of enormous portraits hung on the walls would be identified and she would tell us who had had affairs with whom.  She made sure that we saw the well-hidden doors set into walls that allowed servants to make their way quickly and unobtrusively between one room and another, always remarking that the ladies & gentlemen of the house could avail themselves of the same facilities  occasionally for other, less virtuous reasons.  Inevitably this meant that she always had a small group who tagged along in her wake eavesdropping on our personal tour – often larger than the crowd assigned to an official guide.  Who wouldn’t?

I haven’t my mothers narrative gift, or her ability to store such a wide and eclectic mix of juicy historical facts in her head, but I do enjoy taking my time to explore the history of any area in which we find ourselves.  The first time that I did this with Mo was when we traveled to the UK to interview for school places when he was 10.  I took him to Winchester Cathedral when he was interviewed for a school close to the town.  At the time of our trip he was a big history fan and was fascinated by the ancient tombs of kings and the thought that we were walking on floors laid down by craftsmen hundreds of years before.  Needless to say, 7 years on he’s a little less enthralled but he is still pretty willing to follow me around from time-to-time.

Mo tries on some 13th century armour at Chateau de Beynac.
Mo tries on some 13th century armour at Chateau de Beynac.

Given Les Terraces’ enviable location, there is an abundance of places for us to visit.  My goal is to ensure that we go to at least 2 new sights each time we are in France ….. after all, there is only so much maintenance that we can deal with at any one time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *