Sunny summer Sundays. You’ve gotta love them. And there’s nothing better than slipping off into the countryside to find a new National Trust estate to explore. This week? The Vyne, near Basingstoke. Which is home to a fantasy story within a fantasy world of yore. The Vyne is one of the best estates we’ve visited. That the weather was so fine always helps. There’s a fabulous lake, manicured lawns, a walled kitchen garden, a summer house with a refreshingly cool interior and the obligatory flower beds.
Of course, there’s also a grand old piece of architecture – the centrepiece of the whole estate. This particular example of Tudor bricks and mortar dates back to the 16th century and has seen many famous folk plant their footsteps down its hallowed halls. Even Henry VIII, god bless his rather twisted soul.
But the Vyne has more than the normal batch of tales of treachery, lust and loot. In one corner of the home is a glass display cabinet, slowly rotating. Inside the twirling case sits a ring. It’s an old ring, but that isn’t what makes it famous. It’s a Roman ring, but that’s still secondary to this ring’s importance. That it is solid gold makes it worth something, but adds naught to the story.
Once upon a long ago, when the ring was found, it had a story. It had a curse placed on it. But that it had a story is still not why the ring has such a prominent place in the public eye. It was the story it would inspire that is the key to its fame. Well, allegedly. What we do know is that a young chap by the name of JRR Tolkein, at the time a professor at Oxford University, studied this very ring and the story of the curse. Two years later he published a book. the Lord of the Rings.
Was the Vyne’s Roman ring the inspiration for Tolkeins ring? Who can say for sure. Mr Tolkein kept it to himself. So it’s a nice story that may or may not be true. I like to think that there’s at least an element of truth to the tale. There’s some photos of our day out at the Vyne below. But there’s plenty more on Flickr – click here. Did you notice how I didn’t use any filters? I thought I’d give them a miss for once. Then a few minutes later, I changed my mind and knocked up a few filters shots in a different set.