More Forms, A Manor House, and a Giant

Our second port was Portland, England. On our unexpected sea day we received a notice that we had to complete a form on line, receive a QR Code and print it to enter England. The form was designed for air or car travel, but they gave instructions on how to fill it in for our case. This would be pretty doable if I was in my office, but was impossible with neither wifi or a printer. The only option was customer service and they were quickly overwhelmed. I was lucky that I only spent about an hour there as others were in line for several hours and were then sitting around trying to complete the form on their phones. My customer service agent said it would be faster if she did the form for me, printed it, and delivered it to our room. I readily accepted that offer.

The night before we arrived we were advised that everyone on the ship, whether going ashore or not, was required to have a face to face meeting with British immigration early the next morning. When we went down for our turn, the line extended more than half the length of the ship (it’s a big 2500 passenger ship). Fortunately, we had a late morning tour; so we went to the cafeteria and were processed quickly after a leisurely breakfast. It was quick because all they did was see that the passport picture matched our face. At no time did anyone look at the form we all worked so hard to create! Nevertheless, this was our favorite port.

Our primary destination was Athelhampton, a Tudor manor house dating back to 1485 located in Dorset, England. The original manor had a Great hall, Solar and Buttery. A Solar was located on the upper level of the manor and was the living quarters for the owner and his family, while a Buttery was a service room located near the Great Hall that held the liquor (wine or ale). The person in charge of the Buttery was called the Butler. In a royal household the same officer was titled, Marshall of the Buttery. This officer was responsible to serve the wine to the head of the household and his guests.

Athelhampton, a Tudor manor house.
While the manor house was impressive, we particularly liked the extensive gardens which featured many fountains, ponds, and trees. The topiary in this garden was particularly impressive.

Athelhampton is now considered one of the most haunted places in England. The Buttery that adjoins the Great Hall is said to experience a tapping noise (on barrels) from a ghost that is referred to as “Cooper.” Various other occupants and visitors of the manor have all seen a “grey lady.” She has been seen by some to wander through the bedrooms (and walls) of the east wing of the house during the early hours of the day.

The most well-known of all the apparitions at the manor house is the pet ape. The ape was owned by Nicholas Martyn and when he passed away in 1595 the ape was somehow accidentally entombed in a secret passage behind the Great Chamber during construction on the house. While he has never been seen it is said you can hear scratching from the behind the panels of the Great Chamber as if he is trying to escape his tomb. For the record, we experienced no signs of ghosts on our visit.

A dovecote adjoining the main house.
The billiard room and library.
The dining room.

The remainder of this blog is rated PG13. Another stop on the tour was the Cerne Abbas Giant, a hill figure near the village of Cerne Abbas.

The figure is about 180 feet high. The people on the path to the left give some scale. The image was created by digging a shallow trench and backfilling it with chalk rubble. The chalk is renewed every ten years. The age of the figure is unknown with estimates ranging from 700 CE to the 17th century.
The significance of the figure is also unknown. A popular belief is that it is some kind of fertility symbol. According to our guide, couples used to attempt to have children in the shadow of the figure to increase their chances of success. The top part of the figure is obscure in this photo. If you want to see some better aerial photos, Google “Cerne Abbas Giant”.

2 thoughts on “More Forms, A Manor House, and a Giant”

  1. I live vicariously through your trips! You have such fun. We are hunkered down with me fighting giant cell arteritis ,an autoimmune disease. I well remember our trip on Sea Cloud! and
    you two!

    1. Hi Peggy and Dave, It is so good to hear from you. We were talking about Sea Cloud just a few weeks ago. It was a fabulous trip and we really enjoyed the time we spent together. We are sorry to hear about your autoimmune disease and wish you the best in your recovery. I hope we can meet again some day.

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