It was an open day at Mannington Hall today, the home of Robert Walpole, 10th Baron Walpole. It's a family home and alongside seventeenth- and eighteenth-century portraits, hung in the wood-panelled rooms, there are mantelpieces filled with recent family photos, too. Snaps. Wedding photos. Children smiling. It's a fourteenth-century house with substantial add-ons (you can't quite call them extensions). Outside one lounge of sagging sofas and a serious plaster ceiling, there were ranks of CDs: classical composers alphabetised, English church music and, the entire CD collection of This Sceptred Isle, the 90 part history of the British Empire from the BBC. It is a charming, intimate hall, lived in, slightly fusty — looking through some French windows you see the moat (it has one). What struck me was the sense of another England, a continuous, untouched, living stem of something planted in the 1400s. Perhaps the things central to the Tory core of small C conservatism: preservation, continuity, religious and royal bedrock. For the first time, I really could see it. See it in the gardens. In the children's clubs they run. The Observer’s Guides to Weather, Insects, Birds tucked away in the shelves. It was another England that occupied the one I was standing in. Something forever separate from me and millions like me, parallel, absolute and other.