Thursday, July 17, 2008

Woburn Abbey (& history lesson)

On the road again with the AWC, this time to Woburn Abbey!

Set on 3,000 acres, Woburn Abbey has been the home to Dukes of Bedford for over 300 years and is now occupied by the 15th Duke and his young family. The reason it is called the Abbey is because... (if you have read all the Philippa Gregory books as I have, remember the Pope would not grant an annulment for Henry VII first wife, Catherine of Aragon), Henry VIII dissolved the Catholic monasteries and in this case gave the Abbey and its estates to John Russell of Chenies who became the first Earl of Bedford. This "home" has one of the most beautiful collections of portraits, silver and china I have seen so far.

One of the attractions was the Woburn Abbey Antiques Center. I think the only purchases on this trip were a silver toast rack and silver napkin rings. Everyone has started a collection of something but I am still trying to I really want more silver to polish?

After our private tour we enjoyed afternoon tea in the Duchess' Tea Room. This tradition is said to have been started by Duchess Anna Maria, wife of the 7th Duke, in the 1840's. She felt that it was a long time between lunch and dinner and that taking tea and sandwiches, cakes and biscuits at 5 o'clock helped to bridge the gap. A woman I can relate to but next time I am going to skip the scones - they are so delicious with clotted cream and jam but I can never make it to the top where all the sweets are waiting!

We ended our trip back to London humming the song Doris Day made famous "Che Sara, Sara"! Who Knew that was the motto written on the Duke of Bedford's family crest!

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