Saturday, 7 April 2012

A round trip from Budleigh Salterton


A la Ronde, the sixteen-sided house located just outside Exmouth, is probably the only other building open to the public in East Devon that bears comparison with Fairlynch for quirkiness. 

It's a lot bigger of course and the National Trust has done a wonderful job in conserving its unique features such as the interior decoration which includes this feather frieze, gathered from native game birds and chickens, and laboriously stuck down with isinglass.  Another must-see is the fragile shell-encrusted gallery, said to contain nearly 25,000 shells.

Built for two spinster cousins, Jane and Mary Parminter, on their return from a grand tour of Europe in the late 18th century it's said to have been inspired by the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy. You can read all about it at

Unique though it is, A la Ronde shares other features with Fairlynch apart from its quirkiness. Both can boast of having a square piano on display to visitors, though it was decided long ago that the one in A La Ronde could never be played as steward Maureen Cook explained. 

Above: The Dining Room at A La Ronde

Outside the building there's this primitive high-backed garden chair which might well have inspired the one at Fairlynch, or vice versa.


Like Fairlynch, this extraordinary building and its contents are in constant need of maintenance and the National Trust has to work hard at fund-raising. The second-hand books room has obviously been a successful initiative.

A trip to A La Ronde can be recommended as a great day out for the family, with plenty of thoughtful entertainments laid on for children. One simple but successful idea has been the wooden model of the building which comes to pieces as a puzzle.


Then there's the activities room, obviously inspired by what the Misses Parminter achieved as interior decorators, with its collections of shells and paper cut-outs specially provided to encourage creativity.

And of course there's the garden, all 15 acres of it with more activities including the Easter Saturday egg scrambling that was a hit with the kids today.  And dominating everything, that amazing view over the River Exe which you can enjoy with your picnic, unless you decide to choose from the varied menu in the tea-room.   

1 comment:

  1. I really love to explore beautiful places. And I really appreciate beautiful places like this.

    Exmouth tours