Anyone For Croquet?

A drowsy morning was necessary for me after yesterday’s exertions, although the Head Gardener did plant a number of seeds in the greenhouse.

This afternoon – cold with sunny intervals – we took a drive into the forest.

A game of croquet was in progress on the green at Nomansland. The players were unfazed by my attention, although one woman claimed in jest that I had put her off her stroke. I suggested to the others that they let her play again. They responded with a good laugh.

Our next stop was at Hale, a village surrounded by trees bearing mistletoe.

The verges of the high-banked lane running from Hale to Woodgreen bear many wild flowers including primroses, violets, bluebells; and plenty of mossy roots.

Splendid avenues of varied daffodils line the approach to Hale Park House. ‘Hale was recorded, although not by name, as a manor in Domesday Book. It passed through the hands of a number of owners, with a manor house being built by the C14, until in the C16 it was leased and then purchased by the Penruddock family. Sir John Penruddock died c 1600-01, leaving Hale to his son Thomas whose own son, John, commissioned a new house in 1637 from the architect John Webb (1611-72). A deer park is also recorded as established at Hale by 1638 (Debois 1990). In 1715, Hale was sold by the Penruddocks to Thomas Archer (1668-1743), Groom Porter to Queen Anne and architect, amongst whose works were the banqueting house at Wrest Park (qv) in Bedfordshire and the Cascade House at Chatsworth (qv), Derbyshire. Archer began the present house in 1715, most probably planted the avenues through the park (ibid), and is most likely to have been responsible for laying out the surrounding formal gardens and wooded pleasure grounds to the south-west and north-west of the house, as shown on a survey of Hale made by Thomas Richardson in 1789. He also largely rebuilt the church. Hale remained with the Archer family until the 1780s, the house being remodelled in the 1770s by Henry Holland (1745-1806) and then purchased by Joseph May for whom it was further remodelled by Popes of Poole (Booth-Jones 1953). In 1837, the estate was bought by Joseph Goff and during the C19 and early C20, the pleasure grounds were simplified and new formal features added to the gardens. The Goff family remained at Hale until the early C20 after which the ownership passed to Major Wright and then to the Booth-Jones family before being purchased in 1973 by Mr and Mrs Hickman. Hale remains (1998) in private ownership.’ This information comes from which contains much more.

Beside Wootton Common I stopped to photograph a heron blending nicely with a birch tree among the gorse. Needless to say, when I approached for a closer viewpoint the bird flapped up and away.

This evening we dined on succulent roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes, parsnips and Yorkshire pudding; herby sausages, firm carrots and cauliflower, with which Jackie drank Peroni and I drank SΓ©guret Cotes du Rhone 2019.


  1. Haven’t played croquet in years. We used to play it at Library picnics. It was on an Army base so some officers played what they called Combat Croquet which entailed hitting your opponent’s ball as far off the course possible. I didn’t like those rules.

  2. The heron looks stunning against that backdrop Derrick. I was watching herons and egrets in their nests across the Looe River on Saturday. If I only had your photography skills!

  3. You had quite an exciting day yesterday. I can certainly understand why you needed some rest. Fun to come upon on all those people playing croquet. What a beautiful manor house! What style would you call it?

  4. Such wonderful photos, Derrick. I love the tree and cloud photos and the daffodils lining the path of the manor house. It’s amazing that the property was recorded in the Doomsday Book. It’s a lovely shot of the heron, too, even if you couldn’t get too close.

  5. I liked the chap who was not letting standards slip and was playing in hos blazer while everyone else was well wrapped up.

    We are waiting impatiently for our bluebells.

  6. We had a croquet set, as kids, and played a lot. ‘Twas fun! πŸ™‚
    The lad in all blue, stripe-y, too, is playing croquet fashionably!!! πŸ˜‰
    LOVE your clouds and skies peeking through the trees majestic branches photos! Gorgeous! πŸ™‚
    The shady lane and the mistletoe trees are a joy! Oh, and Mr. Heron is quite regal looking! πŸ™‚
    Hope you all got some good rest today.
    (((HUGS))) πŸ™‚

  7. What beautiful photos from your day, Derrick and Jackie! I especially love the violets, and the lane down to Hale Park House looks like something out of Poldark.

    I played croquet when I was growing up. My friend across the street had a croquet set and a big front yard.

  8. Croquet? Goodness gracious. They still play it? Spent a lot of my childhood playing it. There was a full set at the Normandy house for many years.
    CΓ΄tes du RhΓ΄ne? Good choice. (though the quality may depend on how far North or South it is made.)
    Cheers. ?

      1. Maybe exports are selected. The ones from the very South are a bit stronger. Also. it doesn’t travel well, so the ones we get here in Mexico can – on rare occasions – be disappointing.

  9. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone playing croquet. We played a lot when I was younger, and I liked it a lot. We kept the set for years, but of course it disappeared ‘somewhere’ along the line, and no one can remember quite how. That home is beautiful, and the daffodils are glorious. I’d play croquet on its lawn any time!

    1. Thank you very much, Linda. In Newark, Nottinghamshire, we had a lawn big enough surrounded by shrubbery into which my late wife delighted in knocking competitors’ balls.

  10. A beautifully observed and recorded afternoon out. Spring has so many floral surprises in your parts of the world! It was interesting to see a croquet game in progress – a few of us used to play it on a rather bumpy lawn in Mafeking, later changed to Mafikeng and now called Mahikeng. A rose by any other name, one might say! I too enjoyed reading about the background of Hale Park House, so thank you for including that.

      1. You are probably aware that during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1901) the small town of Mafeking was besieged by Boer forces for 215 days. A small British force commanded by Lord Baden-Powell in the town at the time. News of the morale-boosting Relief of Mafeking was greeted in Britain with widespread celebration and gave rise to a new word, maffick, meaning ‘to celebrate with boisterous rejoicing and hilarious behaviour’.

  11. Out of the blue, it seemed to my Dad, my Mum joined the local croquet club – and they wore whites from top to toe. I don’t think she played for many years but we all thought it was intriguing because she wasn’t really into anything sort of “follow the rules” and be “proper” in that way….

  12. looks like a crisp, sunny day in Spring! love those daffodils on both sides of the road leading to Hale Park House. interesting history. πŸ™‚

  13. We used to have a croquet set in the side lawn when our children were young, I’d love to have that again.

  14. Ah yes, Derrick, your croquet photos brought back many happy memories. We used to play croquet in our back yard when I was a youngster – and we inherited my mom & dad’s croquet set. I think my son has it now. Great fun! Thanks for the memories. <3

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