Wallington is the home to generations of the Blackett and Trevelyan families. Over the years these two families altered the house and the surrounding landscape:
Today the Wallington estate consists of 13,500 acres of land, 15 farms and the village of Cambo, Wallington is still home to over 100 households and continues to be a family affair.*
*From Wallington literature.
The stone heads on the lawn in front of Wallington capture ones eye as you drive past. Depending on which source you read they are either Dragons of Gryphens. With only the heads on display the jury is out…
But where did they come from?
Four griffins’ heads with protruding eyes, large ears, snarling mouths and hair sprouting from under their jowls.
The heads originally belonged to griffins on the medieval gate at Bishopsgate, London, which was demolished in 1761.(1) An engraving at Wallington Hall shows how they looked in the early eighteenth century.(2) The story goes that they arrived in Northumberland as ballast in one of the coal boats belonging to the Blacketts, the great coaland lead-mining family that owned Wallington Hall.(3) It is not known when exactly this was but certainly by 1789 the heads were part of the motley array of objects decorating Rothley Castle, the eighteenth-century Gothic eyecatcher and viewing-point which David Garrett designed for Sir Walter Calverley c.1755 to stand in his newly laid-out deerpark at Rothley Park, five miles to the north of Wallington.
In 1928 the heads were moved from Rothley Castle to Wallington.
The book in my previous post describes Virgile as he is setting out into wine production in 2001. At the back of the book the author Patrick provides an update stating that much has changed since 2001, Virgil has now become successful in the Languedoc wine industry. But his success has taken him away from something close to his heart; the production of wines for the enjoyment and pleasure of wine drinkers:
Happily, a recent collaboration with a UK internet-based business called Naked Wines has played a significant role in rekindling this primary enthusiasm. Their unusual arrangement encourages customers to subscribe on a monthly basis, effectively sponsoring the making of special, limited edition cuvees, which they are then able to purchase using the investment which they have accumulated, (They call them ‘angels’, like theatrical angels.)
Meanwhile, for Virgile, like other wine-makers, this sponsorship allows him an outlet for his creativity, which is entirely separate from his own domaine, creating wines which he would never normally be able to contemplate. While some of the wines that he has made for his angels use grapes from his own vines, the arrangement also allows him to operate effectively as a ‘flying wine-maker’ (albeit without the glamour of the flights!), producing wines with grapes that are grown and picked by other landowners, under his supervision, but using their cellar facilities.
This has, for instance, given him the opportunity to make several wines in the Ventoux in the Rhone Valley, using partly the grapes grown on his late grandfather’s land – something he had never previously permitted himself to dream of doing. I has also allowed him to try his hand at Merlot and a Sauvignon Blanc (taking him back to his early experiences in Chile) without the need to replant or invest in additional parcelles which offer those varieties, or indeed to commit himself to those particular winds in the long term at all. To all of these he brings the same essential values and philosophy: above all, wines made for the pleasure of drinking them. and the proof of his success must be the fact that one of his Naked Wines offers sold all of its 3,000 six-bottle cases in just three days and another exhausted a 500 case supply in a mere three hours!
Being angels we received the book with a wine order and it arrived just in time for my birthday last year.
… A year in the Languedoc wine country
Synopsis (from the author’s website):
In Virgile’s Vineyard, Patrick Moon explores the world of Languedoc wine. Among the cast of characters that Patrick meets during his year of discovery is Virgile, a young local wine-maker who offers to initiate him into the mysteries of each seasons work in the fields and in the cellar. Virgile is passionately committed to perfection, even though his limited means afford him just a handful of hectares and the smallest cellar imaginable.
At the other extreme is Manu, Patricks dipsomaniac neighbour, a diehard traditionalist producing a private wine-lake of unspeakable rouge. With Manu as his self-appointed guide, Patrick embarks on a quest for the revolutions leading lights a succession of lively encounters with growers as diverse as the wines themselves interwoven with entertaining digressions into the history of the regions wine-making.
Meanwhile the author struggles to deal with his long-neglected French home an unfamiliar and unpredictable world where the brambles have grown as tall as the olive trees, the water supply has just dried up and there is a ferocious animal under the roof tiles…
The book is set out in months of the year, giving insight into what typically occurs in each season. I found the book delightfully refreshing and full of humour.
I warmed to the many characters who were described in the book and also learned a lot about wine making and the exacting requirements for appellation controle rather vin de table…
The author’s adventures reminded me of my visit to Carcassonne and left me with the feeling of wanting to live in that area of France…
PS: I have received a gift of the sequel (Arrazat’s Aubergines) from Mr C. I am looking forward to reading it on our upcoming long weekend away. Our Christmas present to each other
The further one travels, the less one knows.
A few shots of Nelly’s Moss Lake before we leave the Cragside Estate for our next destination.
This installation was created by Wolfgang Weileder. A plaque by the side of the lake provided the following information:
On Nelly’s Moss Lake the artist has installed three dinghies to remind us of the power of wind and water and offers us a new visual experience and interpretation of Lord Armstrong’s inventive and visionary spirit.
The images on the sails are direct replicas of photographs to be found in Armstrong’s book, Electric Movement in Air and Water (1897) – the title of this work.
These electrical discharges were a product of Armstrong’s continued passion for discovery as he embarked upon electrical experimentation later in life.
When we visited one of the dinghies had capsized and was at the side of the lake. It must has succumbed to some excessive air and water movement.
For those who are curious about the fourth installation that I did not manage to photograph, it was entitled Give and Take and was the creation of Jo Coupe. It was situated in the Electrical Room which has not been open to the public for a number of years pending renovation. The Cragside House Blog shows photos of the exhibit being installed and provides the following information:
This piece consists of 5 tanks filled with copper sulphate solution which will, over the course of the rest of the season, copper plate long-stemmed roses – a live electrical experiment! This one really represents the space it fills. The Electrical Room was the area purpose-built for Lord Armstrong to conduct his own Electrical experiments, although none quite like this.