There is no doubt that when you are a harpist, you get to visit and play in some beautiful and, more often than not, historic buildings and grounds. As I sat playing for a midweek wedding today at the intimate and somewhat secret venue, The Reading Rooms in Alby, I was adding to a list of stunning places I have been lucky enough to play at. However, it also struck me, that I have gained a little historic knowledge of these beauty marks as I have travelled from church to castle, to abbey, to barn, to stately home, to hotel and even, to brewery! I feel as if I have actually also completed an undergraduate history degree in historical buildings of the UK; in particular, East Anglia and Norfolk. Apparently there were many of these reading rooms all over Norfolk as a place for local villagers to come and read and learn.
I have an insight to the Coke family of Holkham Hall in North Norfolk, I have admired the many gorgeous barn conversions that have become wedding and concert venues; including The Chaucer Barns, Southwood Hall and The Elms Barn in Toftmonks. I have learnt how The Boathouse in Ormesby had to in fact own two venues just to have the rights to the Broads where they use a boat for the Bride. I have enjoyed encapsulating the natural peacefulness at ‘Hush’ woodland weddings, and absorbed the medieval history of Leez Priory and Hengrave Hall, as well as Oxnead Hall and Norwich Castle, to name a few. I have even played in what was once St Peter’s Brewery, which aided Henry VIII’s idea for the wholesale dissolution of the monasteries.
Each interesting venue has it’s own history to unveil and story to learn of from the current owners; I do find myself quite privileged to ‘dip my toes’, (or should that be fingers), in to some of our country’s most curious and attractive heritage… maybe I should enroll to do my post graduate in historic buildings!