Saturday, 27 June 2009

Capturing the Castle!

Recently we visited Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire. As we have been before, and there wasn't a great deal of sunshine this time, we decided we would just enjoy a walk in the parkland and go again on a better day to take some photos of the formal gardens. To the right of the photo above, the castle was undergoing some extensive maintenance work and was disfigured by scaffolding which would have marred the photograph had I shown the building in its entirety.

"Broughton Castle . . . about the most beautiful castle in all England . . . for sheer loveliness of the combination of water, woods and picturesque buildings." So said historian Sir Charles Oman in 1898.

It was built as a manor house in 1300 in the village of Broughton by Sir John de Broughton at a location where the merging of three streams created a natural site for a moated manor, the house was sold in 1377 to William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester. The battlements were created in 1406 by Sir Thomas Wykeham.

The house was passed by inheritance to the Fiennes family (Barons Saye and Sele) in 1451. In the 17th century William Fiennes, 1st Viscount Saye and Sele was one of the leading militant reformers against Charles I. He raised troops to fight against the King at the Battle of Edgehill in 1642 and Royalist troops later besieged the castle, overcoming the defenders and occupying the castle for a while. It fell into disrepair in the 19th century but was rescued eventually by Frederick Fiennes, 16th Lord Saye and Sele, who brought in Sir George Gilbert Scott the renowned Victorian architect .

Broughton Castle is to this day still the home of the Saye and Sele family. Many films and tv programmes have been filmed there, notably parts of the films The Scarlett Pimpernel (1982), Three Men and a Little Lady (1990), The Madness of King George (1994) and Shakespeare in Love (1998).

As we walked we saw this family of Canada Geese

preparing for a snooze

in the beautiful place where they had chosen to live.

Although on this occasion we didn't visit the formal gardens, I couldn't resist a few photos from the other side of the moat.

'You who walk,
Maybe with troubled thoughts,
Come, enter here and rest;
And may the sweet serenity of growing things,
And the heavenly,peace
Be mirrored in thy soul.'
(D. M. Palmer)

I thought this rose was particularly lovely.

'You love the roses - so do I. I wish
The sky would rain down roses, as they rain
From off the shaken bush. Why will it not?
Then all the valley would be pink and white
And soft to tread on. They would fall as light
As feathers, smelling sweet; and it would be
Like sleeping and like waking, all at once!'
(George Elliot)

We spent some time watching the Swallows, soaring and dipping over the moat in pursuit of insects for their meal. Trying to photograph them was the most frustrating experience as they darted backwards and forwards and in and out of my viewfinder, it was impossible to get any decent photos but I have included two which just about show what they are.

'Swallows travel to and fro,
And the great winds come and go,
And the steady breezes blow,
Bearing perfume, bearing love.
Breezes hasten, swallows fly,
Towered clouds forever ply.'
(Robert Louis Stevenson)

I was very struck by the sculptural contours of this old tree

and I thought these Water Lilies looked pretty too.

Unfortunately we hadn't seen very much in the way of bird life apart from the Canada Geese, Swallows and these Mallards.

As we retraced our steps through the parkland to make our way back to the car the bells were ringing to summon parishioners to evening worship at the church situated in the grounds of this beautiful castle where lie the remains of many of the ancestors of its owners.


  1. ...what an interesting post! I enjoyed reading the history of the castle...all the way back to 1300! The architecture is beautiful. I think I recognized it from Shakespeare in Love! (I'll have to pay attention the next time I watch the movie.) I also loved the prose by George Elliot. You're so good at picking the best poetry and prose for the post.

  2. Well you captured the castle very well indeed Jan as you also did the Swallows - that 2nd picture is very much better than anything I've been able to achieve of a swallow in flight!

    What an interesting place - I knew very little about it until now.

    A very apt selection of poems as usual - thank you :D

  3. A lovely illustrated read Jan. Looks like a great place for a day out and a leisurely stroll.
    Well done with the Swallows. Better than anything I managed last year when I tried to photo some and ended up deleting the lot!

  4. Just delightful again Jan, you must very much at peace with yourself with all the poetry in your life, your blog is just lovely!!

  5. Hi again Jan, I agree with all of the above comments but in particular with Jayne…

    You definitely have settled in with a lovely posting style mixing poetry and photos in your blog now. A bit of History to visits like this is an added bonus too… and lot of work on your part perhaps but I’m certain all your visitors will thoroughly enjoy visiting… as I do myself :-D

    Have a great weekend… I am delighted that we have some light rain now as everything has been so dry for ages now :-D

  6. so lovely as usual beautiful photos and words

  7. Hi Jan....for one brief moment in time I walked with very very beautiful.
    I adore walled gardens....they are so romantic.....and so very English......the roses add to the scene and your added poetry actually brought a lump to my throat.....

    The swallow is a lovely capture of a bird that does not stay with us for long.....I wonder if this bird will make it back next year?

    A lovely is 28 degrees here, way too hot for me......I shall need plenty of water tomorrow when I go on safari....

    Have a fun weekend.....

  8. Can you imagine having such a wonderful garden at your fingertips? Wonderful photos! You did an awesome job with those swallow action shots! Very impressive! Looks like a wonderful spot to visit...I didnt see crowds of people as would be here at such a beautiful spot.

  9. Beautiful photos as always!


  10. Another beautiful post shysongbird. Just ADORE the castle and all the history! I have an obsession with castles, and would LOVE to have a little one of my own when i win the lottery!!!Love the unusual tree, and the geese, and of course the poetry. Just lovely x

  11. Kelly, thank you very much. I agree it is very strange to look at somewhere and realise it has been standing for that amount of time and that you are seeing what people from so long ago saw. I will have to watch Shakespeare in Love again too, HLH (my husband) watched it a while ago but I was doing something else at the time and only saw bits.

  12. Tricia, thank you very much. I nearly didn't include the Swallow photos as they were only the best of a very bad lot and I wasn't sure they were worth showing but HLH thought I should, so thank you, your comments have cheered me :)

    It was a lovely place and we do intend visiting again sometime.

  13. John, thank you very much. Yes it was a lovely place and very relaxing, apart from trying to photograph the Swallows, that really was so frustrating and I deleted so many. Some had nothing in shot at all! I'm glad to find I'm not the only one who finds it difficult ;)

  14. Hi Jan. It looks like you had a lovely day out. Wonderful photo's.
    Enjoy your weekend.

  15. Impressive looking castle, and great history with it.
    Good captures with the Swallow. Too quick for me. :(

  16. Beautiful pictures Jan. I love the castle photos and of course the geese! And the swallow was so neat. That tree is very neat looking also. I wish I could walk through gardens like that. My brother lived in England for almost 20 years and my sister went over there to visit him in 1999 and they toured some castles and went to Wales and a few other places over there where we have distant relatives. I have my sister's pictures of the castle. But it was cold when she was there.
    Your photos are beautiful!! Great post Jan!!

  17. Must have been a great visit, glad you enjoyed it. I loved your photos too. I liked your swallow shots too. They are so difficult to follow with your eyes, let alone a camera.

  18. Jayne, Shirl and Sheila: Thank you.


    Thank you so much. Although modern life with all of its harsh realities can be challenging to say the least I do find peace and tranquillity in Nature and the poetry which seems to go with it so appropriately. I also love trying to photograph it although I am still very much a beginner and learning all the time!


    Thank you very much, I think blogging is quite a learning curve and although I'm never quite sure where it is leading me next, it is lots of fun finding out :)
    We have had fine weather over the weekend but a heavy downpour around six this evening which should be beneficial for the garden. High temperatures and humidity are forecast for the week ahead, humidity doesn't suit me at all, so not much will be done in the garden I suspect. I hope you have a great week!


    Thank you very much for your very kind comments as always.

  19. Cheryl, Dixxe and Ali: Thank you.


    Thank you very much, I'm glad you walked with me!
    I thought that was a particularly lovely rose, I could almost see the ladies in their long dresses and bonnets walking past it ;)
    I think it must be wonderful in your lovely garden just now, enjoy it but mind the humidity!


    Thank you very much. It would indeed be wonderful to live there :)
    I had such trouble with the Swallows, they were lovely to watch but so annoying to photograph!
    I think most of the people were in the castle itself or in the formal gardens so we were able to walk unhindered which was nice.


    Thank you very much indeed.

  20. Karen,

    Thank you so much! We have two or three other castles within our area which I suspect would interest you, I must put them on the list of places to go, I hope you do win the lottery then I can visit and take photos of your castle ;)

  21. From a very young age I have wanted to visit the UK and see her castles and great old manor houses. I fell in love with all the stories of knights and chivalry. Perhaps someday...

    Wonderful quote by Palmer, I loved it.

  22. What can I say; I’m all chilled out and enjoyed every min at looking at your beautiful pictures and reading your post. There is always so much to learn from reading your posts.

    I don’t know about where you are but it is so hot here tonight!

    Have a lovely week- love Lou and Poppy xxxxxx

  23. wonderful captures of the castle...what a peaceful looking place. i would love to visit some of the great old structures in much history.

  24. Fantastic shots. The architecture castle is wonderful accompanied by beautiful garden and the birds.

  25. its a stunning building. the church is rather fine as well

  26. Ken, holdingmoments, Ginnymo: Thank you.


    Thank you very much, it was a lovely visit.


    Thank you very much, yes it is a very impressive place, very atmospheric. I tried so hard to get some decent photos of the Swallows but it was so difficult, I'm sure you could have done far better than me ;)


    Thank you very much, it is very interesting to know you have distant relatives here. We do have some wonderful historic castles, stately homes etc. and Wales, which you mention, is a lovely place to visit. We have holidayed there and some years ago we considered buying a property on the shores of Lake Vyrnwy, it wasn't to be but we have regretted it since.

  27. Joe, Roses and Lilacs and lou: Thank you.


    Thank you very much. Yes it was a lovely visit. The Swallows were fascinating to watch, their speed was amazing! Trying to photograph them almost had me jumping up and down with frustration though ;)


    Thank you very much. We have so many beautiful Stately Homes, Castles, Palaces etc. here, I think we forget how lucky we are sometimes, they are all so steeped in history and most are open to the public. You would love it all I'm sure.


    Thank you very much as always :) I'm glad you enjoyed it. We have had it extremely hot and humid here too and the last few nights we have had some torrential downpours, at least it means no watering to do, but the snails have devoured most of my plants :(
    Enjoy the rest of the week and Lots of Love and XXXX to you and Poppy.

  28. Marmee, Rajesh and Pete: Thank you.


    Thank you very much, it really was very peaceful and everywhere I looked I thought of other eyes from centuries past looking at the same beautiful sights I was seeing.


    Thank you very much, with your appreciation of architecture I'm sure you would enjoy visiting our lovely old buildings.


    Thank you very much. Yes the church is lovely, it is some time since we went inside it, we must go again. Is there anywhere you haven't been? ;)

  29. Hi Jan!

    so sorry I somehow managed to reject your post on my blog - No idea how I managed it at all and I never got to read your comment!

    Whoopsie, so sorry *blush*

    Thank you for commenting though :)

  30. Thank you so very much for sharing this castle and the history. I hope someday to come to England but until then it is wonderful to see your country though your lens.

  31. Q,

    Thank you so much Sherry, I'm sure if you ever manage to come over here you would enjoy seeing the wealth of historic buildings we are lucky enough to have in this country. But the thing I think is so wonderful about blogging is being able to visit so many wonderful places across the world, making new friends and sharing their surroundings and all without leaving our own chairs!

    Have a wonderful weekend, it is hot, hot, hot, here :)

  32. What a beautiful house and garden it reminds me a little of one of my favourites Oxburgh Hall.

  33. I thoroughly enjoyed your history lesson. What a marvelous old castle. Do they do tours inside? I would love to see the gardens if you ever go back. George Elliot painted a magical picture, didn't she? Thanks for taking us with you on your trip.

  34. Re,

    Thank you very much, yes it really is a lovely place to visit. I'm not familiar with Oxburgh Hall so will look it up on the computer.

  35. Morning Glories in Round Rock,

    Dear MG,

    Thank you very much, yes the Castle is open to the public on certain days as are the gardens and we do hope to go back and see more. I agree the George Elliot quote is so descriptive.

    I do hope you enjoy your forthcoming trip, I'm guessing you may be travelling at this moment!

  36. Thankyou for showing your lovey Images.
    I've enjoyed my visit.

  37. JRandSue,


    Welcome! Thank you very much for visiting and for your very kind comment. I do hope you visit again you will be very welcome :)

  38. Beautiful post shysongbird, some very good photography, and excellent use of the written word, a pleasure to read.


  39. Denis ,

    Thank you so much for your very generous comments, they are much appreciated and I'm so glad to learn that all is well with you :)


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