Saturday, 23 June 2012

Coombe Lodge, Croydon

Every now and then I find myself staying or visiting somewhere a little out of the ordinary and this week included one of those little highlights.

I've been all over the place the last few weeks and this week has been another 4-day trek, starting with a couple of days in Newcastle with my colleagues from JISC infoNet at the University of Northumbria.

I'm not sure that Hadrian House has anything of special architectural merit apart from being one of those fun places where if you stand still long enough the lights go out...

From there I went to Nottingham, staying at the Castle Marina Premier Inn and spending a day at the University's East Midlands Conference Centre. This was for an "eFair" hosted by the JISC Regional Support Centre for the East Midlands region - a celebration of the uses of technology in teaching and learning and a chance for delegates to see what others are doing and to hear from a few experts and pundits.

Despite all the experts who were there, they decided I should run a session and I led my gathering of delegates through a few exercises around the implementation of change in organisations. They were kind in their feedback considering I made them do so much work!

Then from Nottingham I went down to Croydon, staying at another Premier Inn (I haven't quite got the "full set" yet but I must be getting close...) and it was here I came across my architectural highlight.

This was the Beefeater restaurant next to the hotel. Coombe Lodge was built in 1761 (thank you Wikipedia) and was part of a large estate comprising Coombe Lodge, Coombe Farm and Coombe House whch was a somewhat older ediface owned by the brothers of William Harvey who not only was the first man ever to describe how blood circulates, but who dug tunnels all over the grounds so he could sit in the dark and meditate. Wikipedia doesn't record what his brothers - the house owners - thought of this...

As I had my breakfast yesterday morning I found myself in this panelled room with a little gallery of arches and carved panels and little turned finials, some hanging others standing.

Next to my table at the side of the impressive fireplace was a brass bell push for summoning the servants. I toyed with the idea of ordering another fried egg, but when you are in hotels as much as I am, you try to avoid too many huge breakfasts! The fireplace itself had a huge grate and a full set of unspoilt, uncracked blue and white tiles to each side of the opening. A remarkable room that seemed to catch the attention of not another single person in the room... I thought it was wonderful.

The photos were all taken on my phone and wouldn't stand being enlarged any more than this. I'm now back in Blackpool amidst torrential rain and gale force winds. Ahhhhh.... home!

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