Previously, I mentioned that one of the many reasons I thoroughly enjoy
“The Supersizers Go Regency” series of videos is because the two travelers
waltzing through centuries of British foodways “live” in the truly sumptuous
Trafalgar House. Now, having admitted this, perhaps you’re wondering,
“Have you ever been there?”
In a word: “YES!”
Even I’m amazed.
So, how did I end up at this grand and glorious Georgian-era country
house? Well, it took some doing, and it wasn’t easy.
Beginning in 1998 (through 2001), I had the marvelous opportunity
(thanks Mom!) to go to England for about one week or so during
the summer. At the time, my passion was seeing the country houses
and other buildings and locations that were used in all those various
Jane Austen-based films. Each year, with London as my home base,
I would take the train out into the countryside to see as many sites
as possible in a day. I had some marvelous experiences every time.
As to Trafalgar House, well…it’s nigh impossible to find! It’s not part
of Britain’s National Trust. It’s not on any map or any list of “places
to visit.” It’s not mentioned in any guide books. Or, at least, it wasn’t
at the time. And yet, I sooooooo wanted to see it. The House stood in
for Barton Park in the Emma Thompson-penned Sense & Sensibility
and for Hartfield in the version of Emma starring Kate Beckinsale.
I vaguely knew it was somewhere in Wiltshire and kinda, sorta, near
Salisbury. But where, exactly? How do I find it? More importantly,
how do I get there?!
Then one day in the summer of 1999, I got on a train in London and
headed out to Salisbury, Wiltshire, in order to tour Wilton House:
It’s where the famous Cube and Double Cube rooms are located. Both
are often used for ballroom scenes. I got off the train and nabbed a taxi
outside the station. The driver and I got to talking, and I mentioned my
quest to see Trafalgar House. Well, lo and behold, bless my lucky stars,
and praise dear Jane for my serendipitous good fortune, this chap KNEW
of it. Not only that, he knew EXACTLY WHERE it was located and HOW
to get there. Even better, he was willing to drive me!
I’d just won the lottery. Several times over!
So, we agreed, I’d first visit Wilton House; then when ready, “ring”
him and he’d return to drive me to Trafalgar House. He gave me his
“mo-bile” number, and off I went. When I’d had enough of Wilton and
its grounds, I called him, and shortly we were on the way to see my
holy grail of country houses. THE Number One on my “must-see” list.
I was excited beyond words!
Trafalgar House is off the beaten path, that’s for sure. It’s buried deep
in that lovely verdant English countryside. We drove for quite some time
until, finally, we pulled into a driveway. Yee-Haa! We’re here! Oh, wait.
There’s a gate. And it’s locked. dagnabit. Ahh, but my intrepid driver says,
“Guess we’ll try the other entrance.” Say what?! There’s a second way in?
And you KNOW IT?! So, he drives a little farther, pulls into another drive,
where, wouldn’t you know it, was yet ANOTHER gate. And it was closed.
But wait, at least it didn’t appear to be locked. “What do you want to do?”
the driver asked. Well, I certainly hadn’t come all this way to be stopped
by some silly gate. No way. I was going to SEE Trafalgar House. So, I said,
“I’ll get out, open the gate, you drive on in, then I’ll close it, get back in,
and we’ll drive on up to the house.”
And so we did. The driver stayed in the car, but warned me to be careful
and to watch out for any dogs. I told him I would, but if he heard any shots,
or me screaming, he’d know I’d been caught! I got out and walked all around,
front and back, taking photos, soaking up the atmosphere, and just reveling
in being there. It was absolutely wonderful. Well worth “sneaking in.”
Finally, it was time to go. As we followed the above procedure, only in reverse,
and drove away, the driver warmly proclaimed, “You’re one plucky lady!”
Below, Trafalgar House:
I had arrived.
It was heavenly.
[NOTE: It's 2010, so of course, NOW Trafalgar House, or Trafalgar Park,
as it's now known, has a website. You, too, can visit. Or even rent it!]