Exploring Historic England – Bradgate Park

Howdy everyone! I hope you’re having a great Friday, wherever you are in the world!

Today I’m sharing with you my lovely walk through Bradgate Park on Wednesday. I went with Jon’s parents and sister, and what began as a cloudy day turned very sunny and warm and just plain gorgeous. We drove past beautiful thatched-roof cottages with lush gardens, the type of houses I’d only ever seen before in pictures, and began our leisurely walk through the paved section of the park.

This rocky, rugged moorland was first made into a deer hunting park about 800 years ago, full of rough grass and bracken and beautiful ancient forest. There are gnarled old oaks everywhere, most of them utterly massive, and they can be as old as 500 years. The River Lin winds through the park, which is teeming with life.

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It has one of the first brick-built country houses in all of England; the childhood home of Lady Jane Grey, who was the Queen of England for Nine Days in 1553 before she was executed for high treason. The house was completed in the early 1520s and went into decay in the 1700s, after it was abandoned. All that remains is a ghostly outline of what was once a huge, grand house (there was once even a yard for jousting!).

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The only part of the house that is still complete is the chapel, which unfortunately was closed for renovations so I couldn’t go in and explore. There were some beautiful white doves on the roof, and some deadly nightshade growing near the walls. A group of fallow deer grazed peacefully until we came along, then they warily moved off.

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The huge herds of red and fallow deer have probably been here in uninterrupted occupancy since medieval days.

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There are also dozens of species of birds abound, and there are even roaming peacocks. I wish I could have gotten a good close up view of the white peacock! I really  need a telephoto lens. Ah well, one day 😉

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We stopped off at the Deer Barn, which is now a nice cafe by the visitors centre, and had tea and sandwiches (hellooooo, corned beef & pickle toastie!). We sat with these views around us:

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Spot the tiny white dots in the distance — another group of fallow deer!

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And then I had to jump up and get a few pictures as three red deer stags with velvet antlers passed by across the carriageway. Again I wished for a telephoto lens!!

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We were going to walk up to Old John Tower, which stands on Leicestershire’s second highest point. Resembling a beer tankard with its attached archway, it was built in 1784 and used to watch horses on a race track at the base of the hill, to view the spectacular landscape, and to spectate fox hunting. Legend says that the tower is in memorial to an estate worker named John who was killed in a bonfire accident, and the distinct beer tankard shape may have been intentional. In this photo, a war memorial can also be seen to the left.

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But we were all hot and tired, so we decided we’ll come back and go up to Old John Tower another day! On the way back through the park, we met these guys relaxing by the carriageway, not seeming to mind people being so close to them:

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It was a fabulous day and a fabulous walk, but after four hours I was more than happy to get back in the car and go home!! Haha!

 

 

 

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