Nicola is not actively blogging at this time, but archived all this rich content here for you to enjoy. She also has posts over at Word Wenches and Historical and Regency Romance UK, too.

Basildon Park and a Blog Contest!

Today on my way to do an interview at the BBC I dropped into Basildon Park, a glorious 18th century house in Berkshire. Back in 1796 when the architect took his nieces to to see the house one of them wrote: “Very singular and beautiful. You ascend into the principal storey by a double flight of steps under a beautiful Loggio of Columns.” It does make the visitor feel very special to be ascending those stairs just as an 18th century guest would have done! Beyond the doors are a series of rooms designed for grand entertainment, all richly and fabulously furnished and decorated. Basildon feels very opulent but at the same time quite intimate for a grand house. It has a lovely warmth to it and as I strolled through the Library, the grand dining room and the stunning Octagon Drawing Room I could easily imagine myself at home there!

The house had originally been built for Sir Francis Sykes, a nabob who had amassed a fortune working for the East India Company. However it was never completely finished as Sykes faced a series of corruption charges relating to his time with the Company and it quickly started to show signs of decline. Sykes died in 1804 and the two succeeding baronets had little interest in the place, letting it to a series of tenants. In 1829 it was put up for sale but because the family refused to sell for less than £100 000 it was not bought until 1838 by which time it was “in a wretched condition.” The house and grounds were restored by James Morrison, who had made his money in the haberdashery trade. It remained in the Morrison family throughout the 19th century but once more fell into decline in the early 20th, to rise like a phoenix under the care of Lord and Lady Iliffe. Today, surrounded by its pleasure gardens and with a delightful parterre it is once again as stunning as it must have been in its earlier heyday.

Basildon Park was the setting for Netherfield in Pride and Prejudice and also features in Julie Cohen’s fabulous book The Summer of Living Dangerously. I have a charming giveaway of National Trust bluebell soap and hand lotion plus lots of other little National Trust gifts to give to one commenter on the blog today. All you have to do to enter is to tell me your favourite flower (I’m still thinking of the gorgeous rose gardens at Basildon!) and please make sure I have your contact details in case you win!


  1. Coming from a family of avid gardeners, I have been exposed to hundreds of variety of flowers, some of which have been, quite frankly, weird! After thinking about my roses and the fact that they are perennial, I have nevertheless veered towards my sweet williams.

    I love their large range of colours and the fabulous display they give with very little upkeep. I haven’t had a problem of greenfly with them either. Add to that that they smell delightful, make great cut flowers, reappear each year without any intervention on my part and are thornless – well, how can I not make them my favourite flower?
    So, the dear, ‘Sweet Williams’ have it!

  2. I absolutely love multi-colored tulips. They are just beautiful when they bloom. Thanks for this opportunity.
    Carol L.
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  3. It is hard to beat a beautiful red rose, but for my yard, I have to go with freesias. They come in such gorgeous colors, often two-toned. They multiply from year to year and one has even more beautiful blooms.

    1. I would love to be able to grow freesias, Gladys. I think their scent is one of hte most beautiful. My mother loves them and I think I have inherited her preference for them if not her ability to grow them!

  4. I love violets. Don’t see them very often here in
    CA – this is not the right climate for them.

    1. Violets are the most beautiful and delicate little flower, aren’t they, Betty. They flourish in my garden in the cool damp conditions we have here – very unlike CA!

  5. My favorite flower has always been tulips. I have always loved them.

    In recent years though, I have grown to love sunflowers. I had always hated them for some reason, and my grandfather would always tease me about them. He always had them growing each year and would “name” the first one after me. After he got sick, and then passed away, I grew to love them.

    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

    1. That’s a lovely story about the sunflowers, June! They are stunning plants and it’s nice to have that personal connection to them.

  6. To pick just one flower is like asking which is my favorite child! Every month of the flowering season provides a new choice. I love lavender for it’s fragrance, roses for their delicate layers of petals, hollyhocks and foxglove for their tall stateliness, tulips and daffodils just because they are among the first flowers of Spring and a whole host of other flowers just because they’re beautiful. I don’t think I’ve met a flower I didn’t love.

  7. My favorite flower is the Stargazer Lily.
    I have them in my yard and they were also in my wedding bouquet years ago. I also have a rose bed and the Queen Elizabeth rose is my favorite rose. I am very partial to any flower that is pink or any shade of purple.

    I do love to read and see the pictures you post in your blog of the lovely homes you visit. I am so glad to see that Basildon Park found wonderful caretakers.

    1. How fabulous to grow stargazer lilies, Gigi! I love hearing from everyone about their flowers because there is such a variety, depending on where people live.

      I’m so glad you enjoy the blog posts. Thank you! The gardens at Basildon Park were stunning, even in the rain. I’m very glad that it was saved by Lord and Lady Iliffe because it is such a beautiful house and it would have been a tragedy if it had fallen down.

    1. LOL! They are so opulent, aren’t they! We had a bush of the most gorgeous pink peonies in our last garden. I’ve never been able to grow them since though.

  8. I love daffodils and I shocked my husband 25 years ago (he was my boyfriend then) when I told him they were my fave flowers.

    He started laughing, he had no idea what they looked like.

    Daffodils mean hot desire. They were a hint of my true passionate nature 😉

    1. Gosh, do they, Carla! Wow! I had no idea. I have a book somewhere on the meaning of flowers. I will go and check out the others!

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