Friday, 1 May 2015

The Manor at Hemingford Grey and Lucy Boston


I knew we would go back to Hemingford Grey.  The name itself has snagged on my imagination for so long now, and the associations it has with the wonderfully evocative children's books about the Children of Green Knowe, written by Lucy Boston and set in this lovely ancient Manor House, were always going to call me back.  It's a place that haunts me.  Once called The Poltergeist House and much feared by the locals, it was brought back to life by Lucy Boston and is now lived in and loved by her daughter-in-law Diana, its spirit at peace.

The story goes that, many years ago, Lucy heard there was an old house for sale in one of the Hemingfords in Cambridgeshire and remembering the neglected old Manor House by the River Ouse she had noticed years earlier, was sure it must be that one, so she turned up on the doorstep one Sunday and announced she would like to buy it. The owners were very surprised as they had only that morning decided to put the house on the market and had not yet told anyone.  She did buy the house and never did find out which house it was that was actually for sale.  It is that kind of house and exercises a strong pull on the imagination.




This time, we were more organised and joined a tour of the house which is still lived in as Diana Boston's home and it is very much a time warp.  Built around 1130 it has thick Norman walls and gorgeous quilts in place of curtains in some of the rooms and is full of colourful paintings some of which were painted by Lucy.  She was also a keen quilter and spent the winters writing her books and making a wonderful and varied array of quilts, and the summers creating and working in her garden. The quilts are well worth the visit, as is the bedroom described in the Children of Green Knowe and the 900 year old Music Room where Lucy gave musical evenings for RAF servicemen during the war and which is sometimes used for reading ghost stories in the winter.


But today, the sun was shining and the garden in all its Spring glory drew me out of the house.  I can't wait to go back again to see the old roses when they are in flower.

It is well worth the detour so do try and visit if you are ever in the area and I promise you won't come away empty handed as Diana sells an assortment of colourful cards featuring the house, garden and Lucy's quilts as well as scarves, handmade jewellery and plants from the garden.  She has copies of all the Green Knowe children's books for sale and a fascinating book she wrote herself about Lucy Boston's amazing quilts and she would love you to visit.

But do contact her first if you would like a tour of the house as this is by appointment only.  www.greenknowe.co.uk

 










21 comments:

  1. I went to Hemingford gray for the first time last year and it was absolutely marvellous - and very memorable. Diana is such a nice person. It is a rare place these days -really not commercial, and yet there is such a lot to see.

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  2. I went to Hemingford gray for the first time last year and it was absolutely marvellous - and very memorable. Diana is such a nice person. It is a rare place these days -really not commercial, and yet there is such a lot to see.

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    1. It is very special and I know Diana is struggling to keep it going and would love to draw more people in. Houses like this are unique and will lose what makes them so special if they cannot be maintained, which would be very sad. Thank you for visiting!

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  3. Since I live in a relatively new country, I am always thrilled when I can find a three hundred year old house to visit. How wonderful that you have the opportunity to visit someplace so lovely that dates back almost 900 years.

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    1. We are lucky that so much survives and although houses that are still lived in after 900 years are pretty rare I think. I once lived in a Wealden hall house in Kent whcih dated back to the 14th century, which was pretty special. Thank you for visiting x

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  4. Gorgeous! What a splendid day you must have had there, all the history soaked into the buildings and then those lovely grounds. I've heard of the books but don't think I ever read them. I suppose I could remedy that with one of the grandchildren. . .

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    1. It is very special mf and I do love it there and will be back. I hope you can find copies of the books and that your grandchildren will appreciate them xx

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  5. Love the story of Lucy Boston's house - a beautiful place.

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    1. Glad to hear that Molly - pass the word on.

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  6. A beautiful house, on gorgeous grounds, and an intriguing history, Marianne~! What a gracious hostess Diana is; I sincerely hope that she is able to keep the property up and running, as so many people would appreciate visiting it.

    Poppy

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    1. So glad we found the time to visit - it is a real gem Poppy. It would be a huge loss if she cannot keep it all going, but it is certainly not easy for her.

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  7. That's certainly a special property - nothing whatsoever like it here. The generosity of the owner in keeping it open is wonderful. After reading the previous post I looked the books up for my grandsons.

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    1. We are lucky to have such a rich history in such a small country, Pondside. I don't know if your grandsons would be interested in the books, but I hope so.

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  8. I hadn’t heard of the manor nor of Lucy Boston. Such gems are often well hidden and only an accidental visit (or a mention like yours) bring them to one’s notice. A fascinating house and garden and well worth a visit.

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    1. Yes, that's so true Friko - despite all attempts to publicise a place, it can so easily fall through the cracks of public consciousness. Lovely to see you again.

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  9. Hi Marianne, how lovely to find another East Anglian blogger! I will enjoy reading back through your archive. I had not heard of Hemingford Grey, but will certainly add it to my list of local places to visit. Have a lovely weekend and enjoy the photography course!

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    1. Lovely to find you too and I shall keep an eye out for your posts. I should be delighted if you visit Hemingford Grey as it is a much overlooked gem - everyone heads straight for National Trust properties unfortunately and the small individual places struggle. Enjoy your weekend too!

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  10. It sounds superb, a chance to discover the reality of children's books, that was once more real to us than our own lives. I am eyeing my quilts now and thinking "curtains, curtains,,,?"

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  11. It is a wonderfully romantic place and I too love the idea of using quilts as curtains. Note to self - first learn to make quilts - yet another thing for the to-do list. Thanks for coming by Mise.

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  12. I've been to Hemingford Grey twice and love it, both the house and garden are quite magical. Love the Green Knowe books too.

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    1. It is so special Rowan, the books too. I am re-reading them as an adult and still enjoying them - quite a feat to write for children and adults too.

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