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Saturday, 2 November 2013

Half term,dark skies and spooky goings on at Charlecote

I have popped over to Charlecote a couple of times this week, at both times the sky turned a little dark and I thought it would rain but amazingly it stayed dry for me. I did wonder if the sky was that colour to give a little more atmosphere to the week, well it was Halloween :)

I noticed lots of children running around excitedly trying to find the pumpkins on the 'Pumpkin Hunt' even found a few myself . The picture above was one I took on Wednesday from the top of the Gatehouse at around 4pm, the skies were dark from the weather but daylight was also starting to fail. When I got home and looked at the photos, I seemed to have a shadow on them....I realised they were actually ghostly figures! Has Charlecote got ghosts?? It is an old house so it is very possible..spooky goings on I think......Ok I lied but it's Halloween :):) Saying that, I did read a blog on the very same thing on Charlecote's page this week and found it very interesting. Here is the link

This was just as the Sun was coming down behind me lighting up the house but look at that sky, very spooky and no rain! I don't actually like this picture much but I wanted to show you the sky.

I was really pleased with my visit on Wednesday, I came away really happy. In all the years I have been visiting this place, I have never ever been inside the gatehouse and I have always wanted to see the view from the top. I don't know why but I always seemed to miss it . I guess I was always somewhere else on the estate as I am often there on a Wednesday. This week, just as I was about to leave, I saw a couple of people hanging around the gatehouse waiting to go up. It said on the board, last entrance was 3.30pm but it was already 3.45pm. The people waiting said they had arrived there at 3.30 but the gentleman had already taken someone up. We didn't know if we would be able to go up or not but we waited anyway.When the gentleman came down from the top, he saw us, smiled and said 'quick before the light fails' I thought that was so kind of him. I have to go back again on a brighter day to take some photos of inside the gatehouse and from the top but I did get a few from this day. Click on them to make them large if you wish.

I stitched three photos together to get these but couldn't decide on sepia or black and white. What do you think?

I love old photos and through researching my own family tree, have learnt to fix them so they look like new again. It's something that takes time but that I really enjoy doing. Some photos given to me to scan have been either slightly torn, creased or have other marks on them but they are very old photos, I try when possible to fix them. I guess my love of photography and history started years ago, sat in my Great Aunt's house in a village called Radford Semele just outside Royal Leamington Spa. I always remember as a little girl being allowed to fetch the box of old photos out. I wanted to know everything, who these people were? where were they when the photo's was taken? What did they do? Where did they live and what relationship were they to me? I remember doing this very same thing to my Grandmother too, she knew the look on my face and would say 'go on then, get the photos out' thinking back now, I probably bored them constantly with all the questions but I guess even back then, at such an early age, my love of Photography and History was there.
When walking around old houses, I always think about the history they have inside them and if only the 'wall's could talk' , what stories they would tell. There are some amazing rooms in Charlecote house. Just think how many people have worked in this big kitchen through the years, catering for the family but also for the estate,big parties and events.

I bet the staff in the old days weren't as happy in their work as this lovely lady.

I have far too many photos and far too much to say so I think I will have to finish the inside of Charlecote in my next blog .

My Great Aunt told me a few stories from the past and about a connection with Royalty. These stories over the years have been the triggers in the back of my head to research my own family tree. This is a painting I edited in photoshop for fun and put my son's face there instead, do you think there is a likeness? One of the stories my Great aunt told me was that we were related to Charles II and Nell Gwyn.

My Great Aunt also loved History and knew so many stories about our family and about our very own history, but nothing was ever written down and unfortunately, she died before I could write it down. As a young child, I listened as though it was story telling time and loved it. It was only as I got older, I wanted to know if these stories were true and how much had been lost or changed as the stories had been passed on from generation to generation. It is these stories never the less, that started my interest in history and especially my own. As I have mentioned before, I was not born here in England but My Mother, Grandmother and all their line before them were. The English side of my family were quite easy to trace as they did not move very far. From Leamington Spa, I traced them to Radford Semele, then earlier to Offchurch and then back even further to Alveston and Tiddington, which for those who don't know, are just at the back of the Charlecote Estate. As you can see from the google  map below, they didn't move far. Click on it to make it bigger.

Most of the family line is Godfrey, Wall and Davenport from Alveston and Tiddington in the 1700's and the 1800's. I do go back further but not on this line. Now it's been awhile since I researched the family tree but I do remember coming across a few entries in the old records as working at the 'Big house' or on the 'Estate' I wonder if they meant Charlecote? More research is needed I think! The picture below is of My Great Grandmother Emily Rowley nee Godfrey and My Great Grandfather Stanley Rowley. I think old photos are great, Emily's own Grandparent's came from the village at the back of Charlecote.

Back to Charlecote and half term.... It was a little strange this week, after the weeks before when the deer have been mostly over the other side of the river in West Park and the bucks being very active and jumpy, The Fallow Deer were very quiet this week and there were plenty of them walking about over the rest of the park and by the lake. I even had a couple of bucks standing guard at the gate as I left. It was quiet funny really, a member of staff or a volunteer I think, was walking up the main path towards the gate to go home and she had these two bucks walking with her, a little like body guards. Then as she left they stood there like bouncers, making sure everyone was leaving. I have added a couple of photos from that moment but excuse the quality as it was starting to get dark and I had already packed my camera away so they are just very quick shots but funny so worth adding. I did notice though, that one of the bucks looked a little worse for wear, too much fighting I think. I guess the rutting season really takes it out of them..or maybe playing at being bouncers at the gate did!

                     The two bucks escorting the lady to the gate

The bouncers at Charlecote Park :) I wouldn't mess with these!

                                        Patrolling the gate

Yesterday I popped back to Charlecote for a short walk and a little fresh air and again the skies turned dark but again I was lucky, no rain. I was able to get some lovely Autumn shots of a couple of bucks sat in the Autumn leaves. Strangely they let me get closer than I thought and didn't move like they normally do. I was aware of the danger of going too close, especially as last week they were still very active and standing their ground but yesterday, they were not really moving much. I guessed they were all shattered after the Rutt, or maybe these were the losers as I did still see some of the bigger bucks strutting around a little on the other side of the river. It wasn't until I got the photos home and blew them up on my computer screen, that I saw how battered these poor bucks were. Some must have been in some really bad fights like the one below, guess if he was human he would have a very bad black eye. He looks like he has been in the wars a bit and he wasn't the only one. I know it doesn't like good but it is all part of natures and their mating cycle. I am just thankful humans don't have to fight each time they want to mate!

He did make a pretty picture though sat in the autumn leaves. I think everything looks so much prettier in autumn, so colourful.

Think he is telling me off here.

This white buck didn't look quite as bad as the other buck but they all looked shattered.

Grazing in the main park.

These sheep get everywhere, my daughter said they look like little cow's, guess it's the colour :)

A few other snapshots from half term,some does, bucks and sheep. I thought the next photo was cute.


I thought this buck looked very posh with his nose in the air!

Taking it easy after a mad few weeks.

Mother and youngster.

sheep up by the lake

Just over the river in West Parks orchard

Another deer sticking her tongue out to me, guess they don't like their photos taken.

That itch you just can't get!

I had to get on my knees for the next two shot's but I really like them.

The next blog explores inside Charlecote


  1. Jana, you always seem to be lucky with the deer - I'm sure they must know you now, and pose for you! When I went to Charlecote last week I only saw one, all the rest must've been over the other side. I will keep trying!
    I've never been in the gatehouse either, I will make a point of going!

  2. hahahahha maybe they do know me by now Bobbie :)

    The deer have been over the other side a lot lately. I have been a few times and not seen anything by the lake at all but the last couple of days, they seem to be moving around a little more again, especially towards the end of the day. Good luck with your next visit. As for the gatehouse, try Wednesday from midday x

  3. Hi Jana, lovely blog and great photos. I love spending time at Charlecote and was there early yesterday morning just before sun rise. Cold but beautiful morning. Can I ask what camera and lens combination you use?

  4. Hi Kieran, Thank you, pleased you like it. I really like the video of your photos, it's really nice to see them like that.

    I was also there yesterday but at the other end of the day to watch the Sun come down :)

    My main camera is a canon 60d but I do use 2 others when I don't want to carry the big one around. The conkers photo was taken with an older 350d which I carry sometimes with the 28-135 lens when I have the bigger lens on my main camera. Just easier than changing lenses and the 350d fit's nicely into a bumbag. Most of the inside shots are taken with a sigma 10-20mm lens. Outside I use that one plus the canon 28-135mm and a Canon 100--400mm, which is the only L lens I have and I love it, ideal for Charlecote. I haven't had it long but that and my wide lens are slowly becoming my favourites.
    Which camera and lenses do you use? Also do you have a blog?

  5. Hi Jana,

    Thanks, I was really surprised they did the slideshow, but very happy.

    My two favourite times of the day at Charlecote are sunrise and sunset, it can transform the house and parkland :-) I spent an hour or so in West Park yesterday as well, just watching the deer and walking around. Didnt take that many photos as they were being really lazy and just lying around.

    You have some good lenses there, and nice choice of cameras. The 60d is a good bit of kit, dont know much about the 350d but I would think its similar to my sons 300d. I also have the Sigma 10-20 and Canon 100-400 and they are both great lenses and are the ones I use the most. My walk-about lens is a Canon 24-105 which was my first L lens. I have the 50mm 1.8 but I tend not to use it too much. My camera is an 1100d but I really want to upgrade to something with better high iso control as I cant really go beyond 1600 on the 1100d without noise being a real issue.

    I dont have a blog, yet, but its something I want to start soon. Just trying to decide when and how :-)

  6. Hi Kieran,
    I too have a 50mm 1.8 , well actually it's my hubbies but I use it more than him :) Yes I think the 300d and the 350d are very similar, still very good camera's.
    I had the same problem with the iso the other day while using the 350d, I was in a thick wood and struggled to get my shots. The 60d is a lovely camera, I really do like it and the iso goes from 100-6400. I have never used it that high but have gone to 3200 inside National Trust properties and the images are not gritty at all. My husband has just upgraded to the 600d and to be honest, it does much of what the 60d does and the iso is the same. I haven't used his yet but he uses mine and said there is not a lot of difference.

    I want to catch Charlecote at Sunrise one day, Sometimes if I go early I take a walk along the public footpath but it's never that early as it's usually after the school run. I have to wait for weekends to go out at that time.

    I haven't had my blog for long, just started this in September this year. I had been moaned at for years to do one, got there in the end :)

  7. Hi Jana,
    I think the 50mm 1.8 is such a good lens but its the one I use least. Most of photography is out doors so I find the others are better. Shame though, because when I do use it, I love it. I photographed my cousins wedding in August, and the 50mm was great in low light, some great effects as well. I limited the iso to 800 and that was fine for most photos but a few did need a tweak in Photoshop.

    I bought my son the 350d for his 6th birthday in March, he loves it and often 'borrows' my lenses (not L's). We photographed the lambing at Charlecote and he even got one of his photos on Charlecote's website, I think its still there under Alex S-M. He was one proud little boy. I've tried to get my wife to get a dSLR so we could go out as a family but just me and my son so far.

    I took my son to Charlecote for sunset in the summer holidays. He loved it!! We were on the far side of the lake taking photos of the lake and moon reflection when he suddenly realised how dark it was. It can be quite a fright seeing the eye-shine from the deers in torch light. You cant really see anything except the eyes but you can hear them. I must admit, even I get a little nervous when its the middle of the night in West Park and its just me and a load of deer :-)

    I too head to Charlecote after the school run sometimes, its a great way to start the day, and this time of year the deer are usually still active enough by the time I get there, but usually I get up a silly o'clock and head there over the weekend.

    Hehehe, my wife has been trying to get me to write a blog for a while so I thought I might as well look at my options then take the plunge. Maybe I will start one before the year is out :-)

  8. To be honest I don't use the 50mm much but I do really like the lens. Like you I too take most of my photos outside.

    I have seen your son's picture, I think Ruth put it on Facebook sometime ago. It's great that he is keen and enjoys taking photos too. Don't blame you not allowing him to use the 'L' lenses :) One of our son's comes with me sometimes and uses the 350d, he is still learning his way around it but I think he likes it.

    Your brave being there in the dark, not just with the deer but the ground isn't exactly level there, then there is the water too! I do know what you mean about the dark creeping up on you. It takes awhile to go dark but when it does, it's hard to see, so easy to get distracted with a camera.

    I will be waiting to see your blog :)