The Tatton Park estate is one of Cheshire's great treasures. For four hundred years it was the home of the Egerton family, who, in the late Seventeenth century built the sumptious but not over-large classical mansion at its centre. They commissioned Lancelot Brown - Capability to his friends - to landscape the thousand-acre park - within which he created one of the largest and most beautifully set meres in the county.
More than a hundred events are held at Tatton every year, and you have until September 30 to catch the third Tatton Park Biennial celebration of modern art. The brief to contributing artists this year was that "Each work will respond to the Biennial theme, ‘Flights of Fancy', addressing the mechanics of flight, Tatton's aeronautical legacies and the human ambition to fly, figuratively or metaphorically."
The penultimate Lord Egerton of Tatton was an aviation pioneer early in the Twentieth century, and a close friend of Charles Rolls - co-founder of Rolls Royce - who died in an air crash in 1910; the first Briton to die in a plane crash. The park was used at the start of World War Two for the training of Britain's very first paratroopers, and there is a memorial in the park to the men who died in that service. Appropriately enough, one of this year's sponsors is Manchester Airport, which is just a few miles to the north-east.
There's a hint as to what you are about to see as you approach the kiosk at the entrance to the Biennial; commissioned from the design firm Pointfive, it's an over-size model of an aircraft flight recorder.
We can't claim that there is anything quite so dramatic in the self-catering cottages at Combermere Abbey, but each one is decorated with original art. They are also beautifully and individually designed, and have been awarded a full five stars for their outstanding quality.
Set in parkland just as glorious as Tatton's (but private, rather than open to the public!) and delightful walled gardens, they are the perfect base for exploring Cheshire and Shropshire. For more information and details on availability, click here. For more on the Tatton Park Biennial click here.