Queen Anne's Summerhouse

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A right royal place to take afternoon tea in the woods

[ A close view of Queen Anne's Summerhouse near Old Warden ]

This charming folly is tucked away in the woods near the idyllic village of Old Warden. One might surmise that it was originally a summer retreat for Queen Anne, but this is unclear, although the rich landowner of what would later become The Shuttleworth Estate was knighted by Her in 1712. The Shuttleworth family renovated it in 1878 as a weekend hunting lodge but it later fell into disrepair. It was lovingly restored in 2009 by The Landmark Trust who nowadays maintain it and rent it out to guests (hopefully only those with royal blue blood, although unwanted guests are not unknown!), just like the nearby Warden Abbey and Keeper's Cottage. In June 2010, Lorna and I visited it on one of their Open Days and took these pictures. Behind a grand front door reminiscent of 10 Downing Street, the architecture is elegant in its simplicity, consisting solely of a single open-plan high-celinged octagonal main room with a central octagonal table and bed in one corner and fireplace in another. One of the cylindrical corner towers has a cleverly concealed kitchen, and another has a spiral staircase leading down to the bathroom in the basement and up to the rooftop which has sheltered seats in the tops of the turrets; this is a marvellously elevated place to breathe in the forest air surrounded by the treetops.

[ Queen Anne's Summerhouse amidst the trees | The Queen relaxing on Her roof terrace | The Queen ascends Her staircase to the roof ]

[ Queen Anne's majestic bedchamber | Queen Anne's living room | The Queen came to tea | Queen Anne's kitchen cleverly concealed in cupboard doors ]

[ Queen Anne's bathroom in the basement | Queen Anne's bathroom door | Queen Anne's toilette | The basement hallway | The Queen ascends the staircase from the basement ]

[ Mary Hampton singing 'Hoax and Benison', June 2011 ]STOP PRESS! I just found out that the magical folk-noir singer Mary Hampton will be performing here this Friday 2011-06-14 at 7:30pm, as part of her "Secret Gardens and Enchanted Follies" UK tour! See you there! [UPDATE: This gig was amazing! :]

© copyright Malcolm Smith 2011-03-12 - last updated 2011-06-18