Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pockets of England II

I take that back.

Having previously written that it's the unknown treasures of the south-east of England that have most fascinated me over the last few weeks, I now think that the south-west has as much - if not more - to offer the cultural traveller.

Devon seems to have everything, from the vast expanses of Dartmoor to small towns and villages such as Sidmouth and Budleigh Salterton. What's equally amazing is that the tranquil countryside is so easily accessible: within five minutes of leaving Exeter airport, for example, you find yourself driving through country lanes past traditional English pubs - a world away from the hustle and bustle of Paris, where our journey had started just over an hour earlier.

South Devon is graced with a generous collection of small manor houses, many of them privately-owned and seldom-visited.

Mothecombe, blessed with an estate running down to the sea, is a perfect Queen Anne doll's house with later additions by Sir Edwin Lutyens, whilst Sharpham, set in a Capability Brown landscape overlooking the River Dart, is an exquisite Palladian villa by Sir Robert Taylor.

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