The South Front

I’d wanted to visit Renishaw Hall and gardens for a while. So with many thanks to the Brack Bandits who kindly drove me there I have now enjoyed the somewhat reclusive Renishaw. Most people I mentioned it to have never heard of it and certainly it is located in a pocket of almost no mans-land between Chesterfield and Sheffield. I think people must be so busy cruising through the area on the M1 on the way to somewhere else that it’s often overlooked. Also, I may be mistaken, but I think it’s only recently that the owner of the Hall has looked to promote it a little more, and why not with such a beautiful gardens and an increasingly famous vineyard maturing nicely.
It was turning into another typical summer’s day, grey skies, a good downpour and teasey glimpses of the sunshine as we arrived. It felt rather humid though, too much for the “boil in a bag” waterproof experience.
“Visit the famous Italianate gardens created by the brilliantly eccentric Sir George Sitwell“ suggests the publicity leaflet. I wonder what it was like to be not just eccentric, but brilliantly so! Well there was a family in the courtyard cafe giving it their best shot. Somehow they seemed to have taken over every corner in a style that made it impossible not to become entwined in their lunchtime deliberations. We managed to emerge into the courtyard with our own sandwiches and tea to watch the steady progression of the lunchtime choices that the regrouped family had settled on. We boggled at the enormous ploughman’s’ lunches wafting past which appeared to be a fiddle factor feast of tantalising proportions (I think we need to have one of those next time!) I think a game pie trotted past but I couldn’t be sure.
So to the gardens. We didn’t manage to avoid a downpour but it didn’t spoil the fun. Plenty to see. A big green space with Gothick features, ponds, fancy iron bridges and statues. The Laburnham Tunnel must look lovely in spring.
With the weather becoming decidedly more iffy it was time to enjoy the museum. Two sides to this, with a history of the Sitwell family and a history of the gardens. The Sitwell family history is of course colourful and eccentric. Immersed in literature and early twentieth century social swirls. The little dated DVD gave a glimpse into the bubbly hospitality of the Sitwells up to contemporary times. That gorgeous open fire certainly looked inviting and relaxing with a glass of bubbles for company!
It now looked promising enough for the woodland walk to the lakes. Quite a steep but rewarding walk to the Gothick arch and the sawmill. Sadly time was now running out before the teashop closed. We made it back in time for the best part of the day for a sunny cuppa in the courtyard.
It had been a really nice afternoon. It’s a charming place in a quirky pleasant style. It is still a family home and I think that is a big part of its appeal. Plenty of walks and things to see even without going in the house (Tours are limited to August Sundays and group bookings)

Gothick Arch near the lake

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