Monday, May 30, 2011

May Fair at Cadhay

We recently enjoyed a short visit to see some wonderful friends in Ottery St Mary, East Devon. During our stay, we went to the May Fair held at nearby Cadhay, which is listed by Country Life magazine as one of the top manor houses in the UK

I must admit that one of the attractions of the May Fair for me was that there would be ferret racing!  I've never seen this before, but apparently ferrets are placed into special drainpipes then race along towards their owners. The ferrets are said to love it and enjoy a reward - often bread & Marmite  - when they get to the other end

For some reason the ferret racing was called off, so I never did get to see it. But the real attraction of the Fair was the house and gardens. Cadhay is a beautiful Elizabethan Manor House, with a lovely central courtyard - the Court of the Sovereigns - featuring statues carved in 1617 of Henry VIII and his three children, King Edward, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth

When it started to drizzle, as it always does on an English Bank Holiday, we took a guided tour of the house. It is beautiful - comfortable and homely as well as historic, and has a welcoming atmosphere - not at all ostentatious!

If you have a special occasion coming up you can even rent Cadhay. It is a popular wedding venue and can accommodate up to 22 people overnight, and would be a wonderful place for a group of family and friends to spend Christmas. And you can holiday in the converted Stables and Coach House

I love visiting gardens, and these are truly magnificent. The approach to the house is down a lime tree avenue, and there are mediaeval "stew" or fish ponds, a kitchen garden, and a lawn overlooking parkland with a haha, that good old country house garden feature to prevent animals straying onto the grass

There was lots of other entertainment and plenty more to see and do at the May Fair, though I couldn't have a go at the archery because I've hurt my shoulder, and was dragged reluctantly away from an inviting looking cream tea tent. And yes, I was disappointed not to see the ferret racing, but the house and gardens more than made up for that! Even if you're not planning a getaway in an Elizabethan Manor House, if you like gardens and you're in the area, do drop in and see for yourself how beautiful the Cadhay gardens are - especially at this time of year. By the way, the "guard bird" was only there for a falconry display at the May Fair, sadly, and is not a habitual resident!

© Erika Price . All rights reserved.