Phil Spencer’s Stately and sometimes Crumbly Homes

We watched an episode of Phil Spencer’s Stately Homes this evening. The title says it all: mild-mannered property hunter, Phil Spencer,  goes a-visiting some of Britain’s best-loved stately homes and uncovers the history, the quirks, and the building costs of each one. (The final episode looks set to be the best one. Phil will be paying a visit to Kirstie Allsopp‘s palace 🙂 )

Tonight’s stately home was Woburn Abbey, family seat of the various dukes and earls of Bedford. Even though it’s a shadow of its former self (a big chunk of it was demolished long ago because of wet rot, dry rot, and probably lukewarm rot too) it’s still not bad. Award for understatement of the year there maybe?

Many generations ago, one of the dukes (or it might’ve been an earl. I wasn’t taking notes, as you may gather) used local stone to face some of the walls. Good move, you might imagine, what with local stone meaning less transportation required and less of all the associated pollution etc that getting stone from further away might have caused.

But no, this particular duke (or earl) wasn’t bothered about the environment. He was just being a cheapskate.

Trouble is, all this local stone was rubbish and turns to powder and blows away on the wind as soon as you even look at it. Which means the poor old current owners have to repair al the stonework. Phil explained that English Heritage had, in their wisdom, ruled that any repairs must be made using the same RUBBISH stone that the original earl (or duke) used.

Which means sorting out Woburn Abbey will be like painting the Forth Bridge, in that, as soon as it’s finished, it will all need doing again. Me? I’d just pebbledash the whole lot and have done with it. (Note: if you think this is a daft idea, then I should admit, it was actually Shana’s 🙂 )


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