A LA RONDE
We visited A La Ronde as a lunchtime break en route to Dartmouth, it is 15 minutes from the M5. It is a perfect place to spend two to three hours. The house, set in its own meadow, has superb views over the river Exe.
First the house itself, which is unique in its hexagonal construction, looks of modest proportions on the outside but is surprisingly spacious inside. The rooms are mostly triangular but the high ceilings downstairs and beautiful diamond shaped widows with their ingenious folding blinds give an airy feel. Upstairs, accessed by tiny winding staircases, is entirely different. The roof was originally thatched and windowless but the house's only male owner, the Reverend, had dormer windows installed doubling the room sizes to make bedrooms and a bathroom. Lots of quirky things to see here, the exposed mechanism for the dumb waiter particularly intrigued me.
On entering the house it is best to explore from the left, first visiting the kitchen then the lounge with its huge original radiator before making your way upstairs. When you descend there is the dining room to see. This was my favourite room. If you wonder why it feels warmer here, look above the table to the original gas lighting still in use. The walls have several prints depicting Rome before the advent of the camera. I was fascinated to see familiar architecture in an overgrown and run down state, obviously the Romans have tidied it up a bit.
The outer rooms all face into a naturally lit vestibule, above in the eaves is a shell gallery which can be seen but not visited. The room next to the dining room has two touch screens giving you a 360 degree view on which you can zoom in.
The interior is dominated by collections and the decor is very crafty, look out for the real feather borders. I commented that I imagined I was in a dolls house, the room guide replied "well it was designed by two girls".
You leave the house and descend into the tea room, very quaint with low, round doorways and a nice view of the meadow and the Exe beyond. A limited but tasty menu is available. A lovely arts and crafts clock is a nice feature here.
Before leaving don't miss the meadow walk, it only takes about 20 minutes on a well maintained path, to see A La Ronde from a different perspective.
It was a real treat to visit, a lunch stop became an afternoon adventure. Also great to see younger members at this property among the many volunteer room guides.
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