SNV30239

SNV30239

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Sunday, 2 September 2012

The day five went to Green Knowe

Last week we went to Cambridgeshire for the day. When I say we....I mean  the five of us. We're all children's writers, but more about us later...


We were there to  visit The Manor at Hemingford Grey, the atmospheric setting for a wonderful series of children's books written in the 1950's by Lucy Boston.

 We approached the house, as most must do, from the River Great Ouse....



Turn left , and then we caught our first glimpse of the Manor.....it's one of the oldest houses in Britain that has been continuously lived in ...it was built in the 1130's and still retains many of its orginal features. It's a house famous in its own right, but the four acre acres of gardens also attract many visitors each year.

Pictures of the gardens coming up, but first, The Manor.





In Lucy Boston's books the house becomes Green Knowe. In the first a young boy called Toseland ( Tolly for short) goes to stay with his great grandmother, and meets the spirits of three children who lived in the houses during the reign of King Charles 11.

It's a wonderfully imaginative book, where the house is one of the major characters., and the five of us were entranced as soon as  we walk through the doors. Our guide was the welcoming , knowledgeable and humorous Diana Boston, Lucy's daughter in law. But this is no ordinary guided tour of a historical house .., there were stories and anecdotes at every turn, of how different rooms in the house inspired scenes in her books, of life in the Manor through the ages , of how Diana's husband Peter illustrated his mother's books, and of a labour of love to preserve the house. This is still a lived in home, with photographs, coats, and the muddle of everyday  life everywhere. I love it.

Lucy Boston moved into the Manor in 1939, just before war broke out. The RAF were based nearby , and during the war, Lucy entertained hundreds of airman...who would come over for record recitals , played on an old gramophone with bamboo needles...


As we sat in that room the ghosts of the past seemed to be everywhere. Uniformed airman about to go on dangerous missions ,perhaps for the last time...to Norman knights.....I can't explain the shadows that seemed to flit around the room as Diana played us a song on the gramophone...Merrie England, sung by Gladys Ripley.



(This photo above was taken by Julia Hedgecoe)

An inspiring hour's tour, and then it was time for the gardens....




This is the view from the children's bedroom in the attic looking over the path to the river.....

When Lucy bought The Manor, the surrounding four acres were mostly fields but one of the most striking things she did was to create the topiary coronation and chess pieces you can see in the picture.



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There's also lots of old roses and irises among the herbaceous plants.




There's plenty to explore in the gardens....this is Alex Gutteridge  wandering through to the side of the house



On another side of the house is this statue of St Christopher, which features in the Green Knowe books....




The Manor's garden isn't grand at all,  there's some quaint nooks and crannies  to delight in the utilty areas of the garden too....
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All in all, a fascinating morning at the Manor...it's the sort of place that you can't forget, and can't wait to return to...

And I'm not the only one to feel that way....the five of us who went to the Manor have all read the Green Knowe books, and we all felt the magic....

From left to right....Josephine Feeney, Pippa Goodhart, Debbie White, Alex Gutteridge and me...




I urge you to check them all out on google, wikipedia...whatever. They are all brilliant writers and I love their work.... but you won't be able to check mine out, because my time slip novel hasn't been published yet, unlike all theirs....


All too soon, it was time to leave the Manor, back by the River....what a day, such emotions....and such a lovely time with such a truly great gang of friends....






Today's track? I couldn't play any track apart from this ...it's Gladys Ripley singing Merrie England...a song that gives me a sense of place, a sense of time, which makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up....

1 comment:

  1. It does sound like a fabulous day. Sorry I couldn't join you.

    ReplyDelete