On a seasonal tour of Britain, we would like to explore hidden gems. And we’re asking you … Did you know?
Art and antiques lovers flock to Blenheim Palace (above), home to a sumptuous art collection, all through the year, but did you know that one of the best art and antiques fairs outside London also takes place there? The Cotswolds boast the highest concentration of art and antiques outside the capital and the Cotswolds Art and Antique Dealers’ Association (CADA), formed in 1978, holds its 2017 fair at Blenheim from 30 March to 2 April. This year’s theme is “the CADA Menagerie” with a special focus on works of art depicting animals. In addition to an exceptional display of art and antiques in an exquisite historic setting – the Palace’s Campaign Rooms and Orangery – the complimentary invitation available from the CADA website admits two to the fair and palace grounds.
Did you know that near Exmouth, in Devon, you’ll find a unique treasure trove of a house with not four but 16 sides? Inspired by their travels, and in particular by the 6th-century Byzantine basilica of San Vitale at Ravenna, cousins Jane and Mary Parminter decided to create a retreat, A la Ronde, in 1796 to house their souvenirs. The result is a place described by architectural writer Lucinda Lambton as having “a magical strangeness that one might dream of only as a child”. Highlights include the house’s famous Shell Gallery, with 25,000 intricately arranged seashells, the eight-doored Octagon room and the spectacular feather frieze.
The Loch Ness Monster is Scotland’s most famous mythical creature, but did you know a shape-shifting spirit called the kelpie is also said to haunt the lochs and lonely rivers? Said to appear as a lost grey pony, with a dripping wet mane, the kelpie would lure its victims to take a ride on its back before carrying them down to a watery grave. Sometimes, it’s said, kelpies appear by the waterside in the form of a beautiful woman to lure men to their death. Today, these creatures have been immortalised in the famous sculptures at Falkirk and in the poetry of Scotland’s bard, Robert Burns.