Notes from a Warwickshire Pilot
PUBLISHED: 12:39 02 January 2014 | UPDATED: 16:54 02 January 2014
Rachel McCombie gets an aerial view of one of Warwickshire's great landmarks
On the right wingtip on the final approach to runway 18 at Wellesbourne Mountford Airfield lies a true gem of the Warwickshire countryside: Charlecote Park, a beautiful 16th century country house run by the National Trust.
Built in 1558, Charlecote has many links with notable figures in English history. Elizabeth I stayed there in the room that is now the drawing room, while none other than William Shakespeare is said to have poached rabbits and deer in the park’s Capability Brown-inspired landscaped grounds.
From the air, it’s clear that the estate today is as brimming with visitors as it is with the fallow deer that have resided in its extensive deer park since Tudor times. It’s also easy to appreciate its link with St Leonard’s church, a tree-lined path appearing to join the church and house in a way that isn’t quite so obvious on the ground. As I potter off for a Sunday flight, I imagine the Lucy family, who owned the land from as early as the 12th century up until it was presented to the National Trust in 1945, making their way up this elegant path to the church each Sunday.
I wonder what they would have thought to all the aeroplanes that now buzz round the skies above their former home? When runway 18 is in use at Wellesbourne Airfield, pilots come in low over Charlecote village, seeming to just miss the church spire as we line up and descend ready to land. With Charlecote Park so close you could almost reach out and touch it, it can be difficult to concentrate on the task of getting the plane safely on the ground.
For me, Charlecote has become a delightfully familiar sight and one that says “we’re home”. If you’d like to visit, go to the National Trust website to find out more: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/charlecote-park.
Rachel McCombie is a freelance copywriter living in Stratford-upon-Avon and flying from Wellesbourne Mountford Airfield. She also runs the aviation gift experiences website Air Experiences, and can be contacted via her website, Rachel’s Writings