This is my newspaper column, in print today in the Cambs Times and Wisbech Standard:
Sir William Cordell acquired Melford Hall after the Dissolution of the Monasteries and entertained Queen Elizabeth 1 there in 1578, a stained glass window now marks her visit.
Since 1786 Melford Hall has been the home of the Hyde Parkers, a distinguished naval family who fought hard and died for their country, naval art and spoils of battles fill the house.
In 1942 fire struck Melford but recovery was quick and a repaired Melford was transferred to the National Trust in 1960. Sir Richard Hyde Parker grew up at Melford, with memories dating back as far as 1942, watching the house burning as a child of five years, he speaks so warmly of Melford and one feels a true 'family' atmosphere within his words. I am sorry to say I did not feel this warmth at Melford, the house, despite it's treasures and memories, felt empty and cold. Doorways were roped off forbidding access to the very few rooms on show making it difficult to see anything among the crowds that piled in together as the large Tudor doors were opened.
Beatrix Potter was a cousin of Ethel, Lady Hyde Parker, the Grandmother of the present Baronet. Lady Ulla Hyde Parker refers to her as 'Cousin Beattie' and remembers her drawing some of the Jeremy Fisher illustrations at Melford.
To be able to look upon many original watercolours and notebooks in her hand was fabulous.
Potter's work has such amazing detail and character, perfection gained from a timeless study of nature.
I felt Melford needed more, it watched as visitors filled it and still longed for a family to feed it's walls with love. However, the treasures within are well worth the visit.
Melford Hall, Suffolk : 01787 376395