Written by Danni McDonald ’19 . This post was written while studying abroad in the United Kingdom with Professors Rick Hyde and Paul Gaffney during the Spring 2017 3-week.
While we were away in England, as a group I know that my classmates and I all agree on this one special thing- one place holds a large piece of our hearts: Wilderhope Manor.
Along wiggly roads and tunnels of natural green, we were on our way from exciting Chester to our second location. Fields of sheep heightened our excitement as our Professors laughed, saying that we’ve seen nothin’ yet. Tucked away in the hills of Shropshire, the hidden place of Wilderhope manor instantly struck awe and images of fantasy into our hearts as we pulled up the drive. Rolling fields traced with stone and pine, yellow fields of rapeseed and the air thrummed with the birdsong, punctuated by howling dogs, baaing sheep and mooing cows.
The old manor house was a part of the youth hostel organization. It was an old farm house with drifting hills, strolling sheep and leaping lambs. Within the house, the chatter of the surrounding farm noises could still be heard- a piece of nature within the time-worn walls amongst the creaking of the ancient floorboards, slamming of doors with no knobs and the echoes of our excitement off the old Tudor walls.
To attempt a perfect description? We named it as our own little Downton Abbey, our home.
Adoring the halls, the interesting challenges of watching our step came to all of us as we tripped over the raised thresholds, slipped down the thick-timbered spiral stairs or got stuck behind the doors and their lift latches. All while doting on the setting and showering it with remarks of admiration- no matter how many times the creaky timbers woke us up when someone left to find the bathroom at night or the one time I slipped and nearly got my toe stuck under one… it was great fun- honestly.
Old windows swing out to our picturesque landscape. And outside, is where we spent our time. The Manor hosted a huge stone porch and there we all lounged around writing or performing Shakespeare in the yard. Soon, group activities of tag, tug of war and more pulled the children out of us and we ran loose- enjoying every little bit of it. Constantly giving the sheep some dialogue, we watched them in the evenings get herded by border collies and luckily, one morning, the cows were let out in the pasture next door and they all ran over- calfs and all- mooing, and sticking their heads onto the ledge of our yard.
We spent our evenings outside until it was either too dark to read scripts aloud or the bugs began to bite. Then, the evening would only begin as we all gathered in the lounge around the fireplace- fascinated by the plastered patterns on the ceiling.
Wilderhope will always hold a special place in our hearts. It was only our fourth day of the trip and we were all shocked at this fact. If I was told that I had been in those hills for a month, I would believe them without a doubt. We loved the manor and made the most out of every minute, the reality of being there for only 2 ½ days was incredible. The manor stayed as a constant favorite on trip and like a home base, it prepared us for the traveling we had ahead.