Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Mixed Emotions

A short while ago I read a piece about Quex House and the Powell Cotton Museum. With the WEB now available it was easy to find out the opening times and the directions to get there and this afternoon we visited Quex Park for the first time.

The Museum isn't particularly attractive from the outside, but it is set in the park and next to the Regency House.

There has been a house at Quex for 600 years, housing various families. The name Quex comes from the Quekes family in the 16th Century who were wealthy from the wool industry in Kent. The current Regency House was built be John Powell-Powell who inherited the estate in 1813.

The museum house the collection of animals collected by Major Percy Horace Gordon Powell-Cotton is both fascinating, and to some degree horrifying. In an age when shooting animals in Africa is done with a Canon Camera, not a fire arm it is hard to accept that until comparatively recently collecting specimens for museums was the norm. Once one gets over the shock, the skill of the taxidermist and the beauty of the displays is stunning. Other galleries include Ceramics and an outline of Roman activity on Thanet. Certainly one afternoon, or day is not enough to take in all that is on offer!

The museum links to the house and there are several rooms open to the public. It is certainly worth a visit.

Outside the gardens, including the walled greenhouse area are open to the public. September is probably not the best time, but still interesting. A visit in June or July would be sure to see these gardens at their best.

One noisy visitor that wouldn't have been around in the time of John Powell-Powell is the Ring-necked parakeet. There were quite a few in the grounds and for them the time of year is perfect. I was standing under a rather diseased looking Horde Chestnut tree when conkers stared dropping around me. They were being opened by the Parakeets, but whether or not they were actually eating the hard interior, so beloved by school boys until Health and Safety came along, I couldn't see.

One thing that they were managing to open and eat with no trouble was Beech Mast.

They were easier to see in the beech trees as the leaves didn't obscure then as much as the Horse Chestnut leaves.

The damage to the conker trees is caused by a small moth, the Horse chestnut leaf miner (Cameraria ohridella). It was first recorded in the UK in 2002 and has now spread rapidly.

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