Bucolic England: Frensham Pond, Lavenham and Bury St Edmunds

26 Sep

A few weekends in rural England didn’t warrant individual posts so I’ve amalgamated them here. I admit I’ve thoroughly revised my jaundiced view of the English countryside. Call it mellowing with age, but the bits I saw this time around affected me deeply. I experienced a deep peacefulness and connectedness with our family history that was good for my soul.

Frensham Pond, Surrey (April): The St George’s Club of Kobe, Japan, holds a reunion weekend somewhere in Europe every year for Kobe expats. This time Frensham Pond Hotel in Surrey was the venue. Not all members are English but all like to party and join in Club rituals like the annual ball and its attendant theatricals. On this weekend we renewed friendships from the early 90s and made new acquaintances. Tris and Jenny came too as they have friends amongst the offspring of the Kobe crowd. There’s something about being a ‘third culture kid’ that forges bonds with others who’ve had the same experience.

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Lavenham, Suffolk (August): On Saturday December 20, 1980, Stuart and I were wed in the Cambridge registry office. It poured with rain early in the day but cleared up by afternoon. After after a brief reception at his parents’ home we repaired to The Swan Hotel, Lavenham, for the weekend with friends and family. We’d not stayed there since so it was a fitting way to farewell England. The Swan was always an attractive old, rambling Tudor hotel but it’s even nicer since they invested serious money in refurbishing the interior last year. They also have an excellent chef. We had the good fortune to receive a room upgrade without even mentioning our history. The private function room we had our wedding dinner in was unchanged as was the airmans’ bar. The village, which was the 14th largest town in Britain during the wool era of the 16th century, is thriving still and the countryside around as pretty as ever. The lovely wool church of St Peter and St Paul is struggling to pay its bills but seems well maintained considering the running cost is £1600 a week. They were holding a second hand book sale inside when we visited.

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Thurston, Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury and Anglesey Abbey, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire (August): Charles and Anne drove up to meet us for a weekend at The Grange hotel in Thurston near Bury St Edmonds. Sounds odd but we’d booked two comfortable log cabins in the grounds of the hotel. We enjoyed the profound peace and quiet apart from the odd peacock screech and had an excellent dinner in the restaurant and another at the award winning pub down the road, the Fox and Hounds. From Thurston we explored the region taking in Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury, Bury St Edmunds’ Cathedral and Anglesey Abbey, the Jacobean stately home and gardens of Lord Urban Fairhaven, that he bequeathed to the National Trust. Lord Fairhaven came into his inheritance at age 30 through oil money from his American mother and as a single man of fastidious temperament and unusual passions he set about using that money to create the perfect Englishman’s country estate. I preferred the gardens, especially the gorgeous dahlia garden, to the house, although I commend him on his bathrooms and guest bedrooms.

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2 Responses to “Bucolic England: Frensham Pond, Lavenham and Bury St Edmunds”

  1. Sally September 25, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    Sharon this is also my old stomping ground so lots of family history tied together. I must correct you on your spelling of Bury St. Edmunds! Spelt with a U I’m certain of it! Also glad you have found a fondness of the Rnglish countryside at last – it really can be a very tranquil and restful place 🙂

    • Sharon Tickle September 25, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

      Thanks for being my spell checker Sally. Now fixed!

      Planning lots more UK country walks next year and hope you can join us.

      S
      xx

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