Friday, May 4, 2012


"Low Rising Manor House still looked like the farmer's home which it had been for several hundred years..."


"The Knoxes' house stood apart, down a turning of its own which led nowhere in particular, and behind it fields stretched away to the slopes of the hills".  ...   "At the far end stood the Knoxes' house, lonely among the water-meadows, often surrounded by thick white mists, a little sinister...  ...The front door, ordinarily left open, was shut this evening, and Laura had to ring".

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Angela Thirkell and the three reasons why she wrote.


"Music!" shouted George Knox, emerging from his teacup, which was a special cup of Gargantuan size with FATHER in Gothic lettering on it, one of those presents given by his loving child before her taste was formed, and which had outlived all more valuable crockery."


Although Angela Thirkell's Bartsetshire novels are mostly set in 'normal size' country houses and even some cottages, there are some old piles to contend with and this song is a good depiction of their plight after WWII.  This song became a great favorite with the beleaguered upper classes.  "...the post-war stately homes were 'rather in the lurch'.  Many had been requisitioned in the war, invaded by evacuees from London and the big industrial cities, occupied by schoolchildren transferred from public boarding schools in vulnerable areas, used as military headquarters and hospitals and finally, towards the end of the fighting, taken over as billets for the foreign troops temporarily based in Britain.  ... "Requisitioned country houses were always knocked about a bit.  Judging by the horror stories circulating in the fifties of Van Dycks used as dartboards, Grinling Gibbons carvings ripped out and burned for firewood, Parham Park was relatively lucky.  The wartime depredations in many other English country houses had been even worse."
                                                                                               Fiona MacCarty, Last Curtsey
 "One thing is for certain.  The country-house way of life as some of us have known it, will never be revived."
                                                                       James Lees-Milne


The stately homes of England
How beautiful they stand
To prove the upper classes
Have still the upper hand.
Though the fact that they have to be rebuilt
And frequently mortgaged to the hilt
Is inclined to take the gilt
Off the gingerbread -- 
And certainly damps the fun
Of the eldest son.
But still we won't be beaten,
We'll scrimp and screw and save.
The playing fields of Eton
Have made us frightfully brave -- 
And though if the Van Dycks have to go
And we pawn the Bechstein grand,
We'll stand by the stately homes of England.
                                                                                                                           Noel Coward