A La Ronde is a sixteen-sided cottage built in the late 18th century, created by two cousins, Jane and Mary Parminter. Many sources describe these cousins as spinsters; in my opinion, the word should be retired. In today's parlance, I will think of them as two women 'living their best life'. They took part in the Grand Tour, which consisted of almost ten years of travel around Europe. Their extensive travels inspired the cottage's unique form, particularly the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy. They built A La Ronde to be their home on their return; Jane Parminter designed it with the help of architect John Lowder. The house was completed in 1795, and the cousins set about filling it with their collection from their travels.
Every inch of the home has been thoughtfully decorated; the smaller rooms between the bigger rooms offer up such exquisite corners of storage, while the styling of the more formal quarters is exacting yet personal. The windows of A La Ronde come in all different shapes and sizes, providing vast amounts of natural light and helping with the ladies' recreational activities; they would move around the house following the sun and ending their days in the West facing Oval Room.
As you can probably tell, both women were very creative, and they used their skills to decorate the house. *'The cousins, decorative frieze made from feathers of local game birds, all painstakingly attached with a gelatin-like natural substance called isinglass. A similar labour of love is the shell-encrusted upper gallery, where 25,000 fragile shells have survived and can be viewed on the clever closed-circuit cameras.'
It is said that during the life of the two cousins, no man was permitted to enter the grounds of A La Ronde. Their will stated that *' that only "unmarried kinswomen" could inherit the property, which held for nearly one hundred years.' In 1991 it was handed over to the National Trust, which happily welcomes men on the grounds.