Learning new things at Knightshayes and Killerton

Knightshayes – a celebration of family success.

You never know quite what you are going to learn when when you visit a National Trust property. Today was all about Ludites, suffragists, suffragettes, ladybirds and a bear. We were visiting Knightshayes  and Killerton in Devon. So stunning walled gardens, very impressive houses, woodland walks and a very tasty National Trust lunch were also part of a sunny day out.


John Heathcote was the man who designed a machine to make lace. The Ludites were a movement who where trying to protect their traditional ways of doing things at a time when machines were changing everything. They destroyed John Heathcote’s original factory in Loughborough. So he moved to Devon to start again. A couple of generations later, the family decided that they needed to build Knightshayes as a celebration of their success.

Killerton Family Chapel
The Family Chapel at Killerton.


Killerton, on the other hand, was home to two ladies who had very different ideas about a woman’s place in society. The exhibition here brings to life the very forceful discussions about women, politics and votes that took place here.

If you wander up the hill you will also find “the bear house”. Apparently bringing a bear home as a souvenir was OK then – even if you did have to build a special house when you got back. I can’t help feeling that a fridge magnet would have been simpler! Except, of course, they had not invented fridges then. That is why you will find the Ice house behind the bear house!

And the ladybirds? according to Google, this time of year is prime real estate season for ladybirds. They are all searching for that special cosy place for winter. If they find one, they give off a chemical signal, and, a bit like Facebook, thousands of their friends turn up! As we started to walk through the swarms, they obviously thought that, in our hair, down our shirts, up our trousers all showed great potential in their real estate search!

So if you are going to visit some National Trust properties like Knightshayes and Killerton, I have two tips for you. First, be open to learning all sorts of new things and second have a look at their membership scheme. Once you are a member, there are over 500 properties to visit (and park at) for free. You might be surprised how quickly membership starts to look like exceptionally good value.

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