Before you ask, yes, I’ve been to Wimpole before, but other than a below stairs guided tour, the house was closed. I was there mostly for the Christmas fair. I did see enough peeking up the stairs for me to want to go back, and I finally did.
For those unfamiliar with this National Trust property, Wimpole is in Cambridgeshire just a bit southwest of Cambridge. Wimpole was mentioned in the Domesday book of 1088, but at the time, this house was not the one sitting upon the property. The current home was completed in 1650 by politician Thomas Chicheley. The house has passed through quite a few owners that time until 1938, when it was purchased by Captain George Bambridge and his wife Elsie (daughter of Rudyard Kipling). She did what she could to fix up and keep the property going, which unfortunately included tearing down wings on the side of the house after they were used as barracks during World War II due to disrepair. When she died in 1976, the property was left to the National Trust.
The inside of the house is definitely worth the walk-through. Aside from a few pieces of lovely art, there are some interesting furnishings, including a Turkish style bed, and amazing ceilings and woodwork. The library has an amazing collection of books, not that I took the time to read every spine. The main room of the library is roped off so you can’t even go inside. I have to say the craziest thing was the bathtub! The entire family could take a bath in it. Fortunately, there is plumbing in place to bring water to the tub and heat it without people carrying buckets. They also had an old-fashioned shower.
A quick walk from the house will take you to the Home Farm where you can practice milking a cow on a fake udder, see live pigs, draught horses, goats, and chickens. I will warn you that like any livestock farm, there is an odour as you approach, but the piglets were quite cute.
The grounds are spread out and lovely. They have some beautiful old trees along the drive in and one the property. During World War II, bombers were even hidden under some of these trees so the Germans wouldn’t find them. The are walks are relaxing and pretty and there is even a folly fashioned to look like the ruins of a gothic tower. I wish we’d gotten to walk out there, but when you travel with children, sometimes they don’t feel up to more walking. We did enjoy the walled garden and the walk back to the house and the stable block where you enter the property.
Next up…Jane Austen Regency Week 2016!