John and I loved going out for the day to National Trust properties that were within easy travelling distance of home. While we enjoyed going round the country houses and castles, we enjoyed, most of all, looking at gardens, especially those that were landscaped to perfection and Anglesey Abbey certainly fitted the bill.
I always have to remind myself where Anglesey Abbey actually is. I want to think that it is in North Wales or on Anglesey itself. But it has nothing to do with Wales. Anglesey Abbey is, in fact, a country house near Lode in Cambridgeshire; and is owned by the National Trust. It was a victim of the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII in 1535, having originally been established, around 1100, as a priory by the Augustinian canons. I feel about half my tea towels are of places that were affected by the Dissolution of the Monasteries! Anglesey Abbey has 98 acres of landscaped gardens and this is the reason I visited with John in 1993, looking for inspiration for a very forlorn garden in Thurmaston.
The overall plan is a framework of walkways, and tree-lined avenues, dividing the landscape into specialist garden areas: the Dahlia Garden, topiary, the semi-circular herbaceous borders, classical flower beds and the Snowdrop Banks. Interspersed between the plants are some amazing pieces of statuary, some obvious and very large and others much smaller and waiting for visitors to spot them amongst the trees and plants. I always love a bit of topiary and there was plenty to see. When the owner, Hulleston Broughton, left Anglesey Abbey to the National Trust in 1966 he did it so the house and gardens “could represent an age and way of life that was quickly passing”. Walking around the gardens of Anglesey Abbey you could feel that, this was about a time past and it was nice to experience it.
The tea towel is a classic National Trust tea towel, the sort I really like because the National Trust have commissioned, in the past, some superb tea towel designers and Lee Kay is one of them. It is pure linen with an image of the facade of Anglesey Abbey in the centre with examples of the statuary in the foreground. The colours are muted, tasteful and accurate; what I really like is the darker silhouettes of the trees on the skyline, giving you a sense of the size of the gardens. Looking at the tea towel easily brings back the memories of the day, a truly lovely day out which unfortunately had absolutely no impact on the improvement to my own garden!
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