Monday, March 23, 2009

A perfect Sunday ...

... consists of ....

Seeing the oldest bench in England at Ham House - a receipt records it was made by one Henry Harlow in 1674. Those who know me will realise just what this meant to me. I only just restrained myself from texting my kids, feeling rather like I did when I went to Coldplay and rang them so they could hear 'Fix Me' play live. Yep, folks, this is a bench with rock star glory (and about ten times the glamour of Chris Martin, let's be honest)

BUT... I'm whispering so the bench doesn't hear, the possible tinglings of a new obsession - stone pineapples. The traditional sign of friendship, a lovely thing for any house.

Exploring the Privy Gardens at Hampton Court Palace with my garden history class, no one asking if it was time to go yet, where was the cafe or complaining about just how many photographs I needed to take. But more than that, seeing something I've only just seen in books or slides actually laid out in front of me, and being able to put into context just what the river meant in relation to the house, how the designs would have looked from the main windows and the surprising restfulness of it all.

In comparison at least to this part of the garden which looks peaceful now but would have housed a collection of heraldic beasts on poles designed to show Henry VIII's power. I had thought of the impact as just being visual before, but Brian Dix (who was showing us round) talked about the creaking noises the metal beasts would have made as they swung round in the wind, and the formidable impression this noise, mixed with the smells of meat roasting from the kitchens, would have had on visitors arriving to the palace by boat ... even before they saw anything. The garden as a deliberate sign of strength and status ... I'm excited how this keeps coming up in my reading. I had thought about them just being places of tranquility and escape mostly.

So a whole other dimension to my thoughts about gardens.

And last but not least, meeting and spending some time with one of my aboslute blog idols, gardenhistorygirl. She is just as lovely as her blog and of course, I got my picture taken with her - but I didn't ask for her autograph. Oh yes, I still retain a little bit of coolness.

Admittedly, not much, but some...


Alex said...

The oldest bench? Are you sure?

Interesting to see GHG. She has been very helpful re. garden building bibliography for Shedworking. And as you say, her blog is really quite exceptional.

Captcha: mismesse - rather nice

Sarah Salway said...

That's what we were told. Do you know another? I must admit I haven't researched it - too star-struck.