Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Inspiration, Association and The Manor at Hemingford Grey


It is strange how a chain of thought can trigger events.  Life in Suffolk these last few years has been punctuated by regular trips along the A14 to visit my partner's father in Staffordshire, and we have always meant to stop off one day and visit the Manor House at Hemingford Grey, the setting for Lucy Boston's Green Knowe children's stories and one of the most romantic place names I have ever come across, but time pressures have always intervened.  I recently came across a reference to the Manor and the Green Knowe books when reading Elizabeth's blog post recently about the delights of her wood burning stove and comfort reading at Welsh Hills Again which struck a chord.

So it was that yesterday afternoon, a beautiful, cold, sunny early Spring day this particular wish was granted. Our trips cross-country have ended this week as the family gathered on Monday to say goodbye to John, who celebrated his 98th birthday only three short weeks ago.  A local legend, he was still driving, swimming and taking regular walks until last September and will be much missed. The end of an era for his family.  But after the tears and the laughter, the reunions and reminiscences and so very many cups of tea, we set out once more to our Suffolk home and, this time, we had time and I am so glad we did.  


We parked the car in the pretty village street and walked a short distance along the banks of the River Ouse, opened the gate into the Manor garden and walked down the path between the clipped yew hedges towards this beautiful house, Green Knowe the oldest continuously occupied house in England and every bit as enchanting as I had hoped.  The house is only open by prior arrangement or for special events, but the garden was open and, having been greeted by the owner, we had it all to ourselves and spent a happy hour exploring, admiring the intense vivid blue carpet of chionodoxa intermingled with late snowdrops, winter aconites, primroses and hellebores.  Lovely even at this time of the year, it will be stunning in the summer when the roses are out and we must visit again, many more times I hope.  And what a wonderful place to come and remember John as now this place will always be associated with him in our hearts.  


Rest in Peace.

18 comments:

  1. It is, indeed, a beautiful place name.....but then England is full of enchanting names that make one want to take a side trip. I will have to search out the book that both you and Elizabeth have mentionned.

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    1. It was a trip to another world Pondside and I hope you will love the books and maybe read them to your grandchildren x

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  2. So lovely to see a post from you, Marianne. Thank you for sharing your wonderful visit to The Manor; it indeed, looks like a most beautiful and enchanting place, and knowing that you had been longing to visit it, I'm sure your time there was precious.

    May John rest in peace.

    Poppy

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    1. How wonderful that you are still there for me Poppy, after so much time with so little to share! Thank you for the kind words x

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  3. What a nice tribute to John. And Hemingford Gray is indeed a lovely place. It's worth going when the owner is available to take you round the house, what a fascinating place, so unlike the rather sterile surroundings of many famous houses. It might not last too much longer, as the present owner said to us that she was not sure who would take over and live there in the same way after her. Definitely worth a visit to see inside, with the beautiful needlework and curious and unique atmosphere of this amazing old house.

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    1. Thanks Jenny Woolf and I would love to see the inside one day. So many of our old houses are just museums now and it is always refreshing to visit one which is still a home. I do hope it will continue.

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  4. DId you see my comment? I wrote quite a long one but it came up with Service Unavailable when I pressed "PUblish"!

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  6. So sorry to hear of the death of your partner's father. He sounded a wonderful old man who lived life to the full. May he rest in peace.

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    1. That's kind Molly. He was a great character x

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  7. To live that long and still be active and enjoying life is a complete life. I know you will miss him, but what wonderful memories you will have of him.

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    1. Yes, indeed, not many of us will have such wonderful, long well-lived lives. He was special.

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  8. Lovely to see a post from you again -- condolences on the loss of your father-in-law. How wonderful that he had such a rich, long life, active until the end.
    And I loved your description of your visit to the Manor House, but I was especially, and oddly, caught by the vision of the chionodoxa -- I was instantly reminded of the ones in my parents' garden -- glory of the snow -- and their pleasure in them. . . and realized that the few they'd transplanted here for me haven't been seen for a few years. Perhaps it's time to plant some myself. . . Thanks for the memory.

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    1. Silence - there doesn't seem to have been much to share this winter, or maybe I have just been hibernating. Lovely to see you again and thanks for the condolences. I do hope you will plant chionodoxa - I have some here in my garden and they are very pretty x

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  9. I loved this post and the later one. It was so delightful to see the garden of the house in Spring as we saw it in midsummer when it looked really quite different!.

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    1. It is gorgeous and I have decided to visit it in every season. Very special.

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  10. I saw a link to your site just now as I have a news alert for Hemingford Grey. Like you, the name itself was a strong attraction. I saw the sign when travelling from Cambridge many years ago, and decided to go back there one day, eventually calling in when travelling to buy a synthesizer in that part of the country. As a result I wrote a piece called Hemingford Meadows, and later another called Rainfall at Hemingford Grey. I'll be back there again when I can. The music's here, BTW, numbers 40 and 42 in the music player: http://www.musicbysweep.com

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    1. Lovely to 'meet' you. There is something about the name and the manor itself which exerts a strong pull. I shall check out the music and thank you for visiting

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