Saturday, 19 October 2013
Not quite the clear and crisp autumnal morning I had hoped for as I made the walk up the steep incline to 'Old John'. Instead a low mist and persistant driving rain was the order of the day. This Folly or Prospect Tower was built in 1784 by the 5th Earl of Stamford. The circular stone tower replaced a former wooden windmill (which had been made unsafe in an earlier storm) and stands on Bradgate’s tallest hill and one of Leicestershire’s highest points – some 690 feet above sea level. Lord Stamford and his guests would have used the Folly to watch his horses gallop around the racecourse laid out at the base of the Hill. By 1792 an archway was attached to the Tower and the legend of Old John Tower’s beer mug outline was born. Bradgate is Leicestershires largest Country Park and most popular visitor attraction, extending to some 830 acres and welcoming 900,000 visitors every year. Steeped in History, the Park was the birthplace and early home of Lady Jane Grey - 9 days Queen of England. Fully refreshed after a toasted tea-cake, bacon roll and a large slice of coffee and walnut cake I set off for a spot of deer stalking. Bradgate Park’s red and fallow deer are some of the finest herds of parkland deer in the country. The average number of deer kept at Bradgate is some 370 – there are slightly more fallow than red deer. Other notable features of the Park include the Ruins of Bradgate House – a Tudor mansion (built in the early 16th century) and which was the birthplace and early home of Lady Jane Grey (9 days Queen of England in 1553) It was a real mixture of weather and between the showers the sun made an appearance and it was quite humid and sultry. It all made for some interesting photography conditions. Before leaving for home there was just enough time to audition for the role of the next Doctor Who.