Memories of Insole Court
I am very happy to see the transformation and continual longevity of this beautiful, historic house and its surroundings. I am originally from Llandaff and lived around the corner from Insole Court. I have had many a happy time playing, laughing and sometimes crying (usually from falling from climbing a tree or scuffing my knees from running around!). I took my first steps at Insole Court. My sisters, brother, Mum & Dad (and our family dog) enjoyed lots of walks, hide & seek games and fun times at the park. Years ago we used the children’s library that was on the ground floor of the house. We loved going and hunting for our favourite coloured plastic chair and our books of choice. I was often found reading out aloud or talking and my poor mother was asked to keep me quiet!
A romantic stroll with boyfriends, first kisses, break-ups and being locked in the park with friends, on our way back from one party or another, are some of the good memories I have. The park was a good shortcut to our friends’ houses around Llandaff. Another memory is running through the park with my sisters and some of our friends, in our pyjamas, one late evening, to get to another friend’s house party, whilst their parents were away! A well-renowned photographer in Cardiff took our family portrait photos in the gardens many years ago and some were taken of us on the lions at the top of the steps around the back of the mighty house. The lions were and will remain iconic pets of stone for all who meet them. We even named them King Parsley & Lord Sage. I always imagined living in the beautiful house and the backdrop, looking from the bottom of the steps beside the big elm trees, always made me smile and I would imagine the people who lived there. Inside the house, I would sometimes close my eyes and hear sounds of laughter, music and song from the many impressive rooms and hallway. Back in the days, I am sure the driveway to the house must have had many a coach and horses majestically trot up and down the hill.
Mum used to organise a few fashion shows in the main house with her friends years ago and we often helped out, and modelled when required! The house and grounds were very versatile and were used on many occasions for weddings, fayres, book and cake sales and children’s parties. I believe a few charity events may have also taken place.
My siblings and I have memories of being haunted by a large doll or mannequin of an old lady sitting and rocking on a chair up in the turret window in part of the old house. We always looked up at the window to scare ourselves, scream loudly and without hesitance, run off home, or to our safe tree. There was another eerie part to the park which was to the right of the driveway to the house, which leads to Insole Gardens’ residential homes. Beyond the little gates and steps down, there was some sort of entrance, nestled amongst trees, brambles and shrubs. There stood a cobwebbed rusty aged gate which looked as though it led to the basement of the house. We were told that this secret passage once kept evil people and children who misbehaved! I am guessing parents relished in this and this hoax was to put fear into their young ones, so as to become better behaved, at all times. I know the four of us believed it at the time!
Four generations of our family from grandparents, parents, siblings and grandchildren, nephews and nieces, all have used both the house and gardens in some way or another. We all used to attend friends tea parties back in the day, as youngsters and relished in skipping up to the huge wooden front door, in awe and slowly entering the overwhelming hallway with its marble steps and decorated bannisters.
My sister’s wedding photographs were taken in and around the gardens (she and her childhood sweetheart used to take many a stroll around the rose garden under the stars) – they are now married 22 years this year!
For many years I have attended evening yoga classes before the refurbishment started and I still do. It was a pleasure to use the new outbuildings last term for our Monday evening class. We are currently in The Green Room, which has stunning wood panelling, a beautiful fireplace and views of the rolling lawns to the gardens.
So, as you can see, I have many fond memories of Insole Court and I remain very proud of it and it will always have a place in my heart.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to write my piece of history and I hope you have enjoyed reading it.
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