Solstice monkey

I received this lovely email a few weeks ago:
I found another Monkey… but I can’t decide whether to keep it a secret and take you there in real life on a Solstice walk…
It’s in Northwich and well worth the drive over :-)
Ah… the lure of a new monkey. We – Agent Gemma and I – decide that it is indeed worth the drive over and arrange to visit Marbury Country Park.
Marbury Country Park, Gemma and Samson (puppy).

Marbury Country Park, Gemma and Samson (puppy).

It’s not actually quite solstice as we’re doing this on Monday 15th December.

We begin our walk in a splendid Lime Avenue.

We begin our walk in a splendid Lime Avenue.

We have lunch and then begin the walk to ‘spot the monkey’.

Walking across to 'Big Wood'.

Walking across to ‘Big Wood’.

Marbury Country Park was the estate of Marbury Hall which was demolished in 1968. I had expected us to be hunting for a monkey in the area where the house stood – but we are striding out into woodland.

With a very eager five month old Samson.

With a very eager five month old Samson.

On the estate hedges have been recently laid.

On the estate hedges have been recently laid.

And I am told to be on full ‘monkey alert’!

And here it is!

And here it is!

Strangely located in a broadleaf woodland… DSC03144 Here is an enormous monkey in a most unusual setting. But thanks to an information panel in the bird hide which is next to the monkey, I can tell you that ‘Big Wood’ is a semi-natural ancient woodland, largely oak, sycamore and ash. The monkey puzzle tree was planted as part of the landscaping in the 1840s. The bird hide stands on the site of the summerhouse where the Smith Barry family would have relaxed away from the hall. Ah yes, just imagine, the stress of being so wealthy that you own both Marbury Hall and adjacent Belmont Hall near Great Budworth – the owner of both in the 1840s was James Hugh Smith Barry’s son – his father was an avid art collector of Greek and Roman art. His ‘collection’ included part of the Parthenon Frieze no less (now in the British Museum). In 1932 the house was sold and became a country club, and then in the war requisitioned for war use. After the war ICI bought the house, it deteriorated and was demolished in 1968. It was quite a house:

Marbury Hall, photo from Lost Heritage website.

Marbury Hall, photo from Lost Heritage website.

So, here we have a ‘statement of wealth’ monkey of the highest order.

CW11.

CW11.

Near to the monkey are the remains of an ice house – something you find in the grounds of wealthy houses, after all you need considerable ‘staff’ to manage one of these. DSC03149 There’s also an information panel that shows how this would have been used – I was especially interested to read this, as I hadn’t know exactly how ice houses work, this one is a ‘hen’s egg’ shape:

Marbury ice house.

Marbury ice house.

We are here just at the edge of Budworth Mere, which would have been the source of the ice. This is our walk: CW11 map We continue back along another Lime Avenue. DSC03156

Winter trees.

Winter trees.

And as we approach the site of the hall, there are remnants visible.

Fragments of the hall.

Fragments of the hall.

Always

A bit of left behind history.

And a splendid wall.

And a splendid wall.

Exploring further along the wall.

Exploring further along the wall.

I find it impossible not to ‘explore the wall’…. and find that it has an opening. And is, in fact, a plant nursery.

Containing one of the finest collections of Wollemi pines I've seen (for sale).

Containing one of the finest collections of Wollemi pines I’ve seen (for sale).

And of course, seasonal fare.

And of course, seasonal fare.

The day is dwindling now and we’ve nearly done.

The lovely wall.

The lovely wall.

Samson leds the way.

Samson leds the way.

And, we’re surprised to find this:

Viewed through a crack in the fence - a swimming pool.

Viewed through a crack in the fence – a swimming pool.

This is Marbury Pool, a little oasis set in woodlands, an unheated open-air pool open from May to October. Well. Time to head home.

A last look up the drive to where the hall would have been.

A last look up the drive to where the hall was located.

xx

And a rural country park, yet so close to Cheshire’s chemical industries.

So, a happy solstice and thank

Solstice greetings from our day out.

Well done monkey hunting Gemma! So, a happy solstice to all and thanks to Gemma for a lovely day out in Cheshire.

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5 thoughts on “Solstice monkey

  1. Pingback: Balm | Monkey Map

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