Saturday, 19 July 2014

Favourite Poems - Dirge Without Music

As the years draw on, I seem to be attending more and more funerals and have to write more obituaries and eulogies. There are many ways of treating death as it mercifully passes us by, but this poem by one of my favourite poets, Eda St Vincent Millay, is especially poignant

Dirge Without Music

So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. 
Crowned with lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.
The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
—They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. 
Elegant and curled is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. 
But I do not approve.

More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned. 
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

See also recent obituaries

and other favourite poems by Edna St Vincent Millay

Monday, 7 July 2014

Drapers' 650th Anniversary Summer Fayre

The courtyard
Stands in the Hall illustrating the many organisations with which the Drapers are involved.
The Drapers' Livery Company held a Summer Fayre for its members (Freemen and Liveryman) at Drapers' Hall on 5th July 2014 to commemorate the 650th anniversary of the first grant of Letters Patent in 1364 from Edward III.

The Fayre was opened by the Master, Admiral The Lord Boyce and included displays and stands illustrating the Company's founding or long association with schools such as Bancrofts, Pembroke College, Cambridge, Hertford College and St Anne's College, Oxford, Thomas Adam's School, Wem, Blundell's, Howell's School, Llandaff, St Paul's Cathedral School as well as the Drapers' Academy, opened by the Queen in 2012.

In addition, the Company has long association with and supports the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal the College of Music, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the City & Guilds London Art School as well as the 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards and HMS Monmouth.

The Company's properties include Drapers' Gardens and several other major City buildings, and three almshouse complexes housing almost 200 residents at Edmanson's Close, Tottenham, Queen Elizabeth's College, Greenwich and Walter's Close, Southwark.

There was also an excellent  display of art created by members of the Company, including this lovely Cornish scene by Sophi Beharrell

At the end of the day, a picnic tea was taken in a marquee on Throgmorton Avenue, next to the Company's barge, the 'Royal Thamesis'.

The Company's Barge, the 'Royal Thamesis'

Monday, 30 June 2014

Old Swan House Garden in June 1

Some photos of the end of the garden and a video talking about some of the planting
Another post will have photos of the top of the garden nearer the house

The grass garden
Part of the old border being slowly replanted
The borrowed landscape over the west garden wall

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Favourite Gardens - Ashtall Manor

Ashtall Manor - photo from the Telegraph Magazine
On Sunday 22nd June I found myself at Ashtall Manor where Rosie Pearson was holding her biennial sculpture exhibition On Form in the glorious gardens designed by Isabel and Julian Bannerman. I had long wanted to visit the house as it was rented by my step-grandfather, Sir Alfred Herbert, for some years until WW1, after which he arranged for it to be used as a home for injured servicemen. After the war it was returned to the owner, Lord Redesdale, who moved in in 1917 and there brought up his daughters, the famous Mitford sisters.

Another reason for attending was that one of the exhibitors is my cousin, Luke Dickinson.

William Peers 'Wild Albert' and Paul Vanstone's 'Senator'
  Click here for more photos of the garden and the sculptures

Favourite Gardens - Adwell

Adwell gardens are open each year for charity, this time supporting Tikkli Bottom School and St Mary's Church, Adwell.  For more photos, click here

See also Adwell Fair 2011

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Favourite Books - As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning

Laurie Lee's wonderful book has been read on BBC4 for the past few days, and its descriptions of the country he travels through are some of the most evocative ever written. 
He begins to walk towards the Wiltshire Downs on country roads that
"…still followed their original tracks, drawn by packhorse or lumbering cartwheel, hugging the curve of a valley or yielding to a promontory like the wandering line of a stream. It was not, after all, so very long ago, but no one could make that journey today. Most of the old roads have gone, and the motor car, since then, has begun to cut the landscape to pieces, through which the hunched-up traveller races at gutter height, seeing less than a dog in a ditch."
A30 near Chilbolton

And in Spain
"The violence of the heat seemed to bruise the whole earth and turn its crust into one huge scar. One's blood dried up and all juices vanished; the sun struck upwards, sideways, and down, while the wheat went buckling across the fields like a solid sheet of copper. I kept on walking because there was no shade to hide in, and because it seemed the only way to agitate the air around me...I walked on as though keeping a vow, till I was conscious only of the hot red dust grinding like pepper between my toes."

Contrast the gentle evening gold of ripening grain-fields near Winchester

and the soft shade near Wilton

Winchester Match 2014

Winchester Match has replaced Eton Match and Wykeham Day as the main event for Old Wykehamists to return to the school and meet old friends. Lords now play a team of OWs and a some interesting exhibitions are held while a fine lunch is given in a marquee beside Hunter Tent. This year saw the retirement of David Fellowes who has had ten very good years as director of Win Coll Soc, and he and the retiring Warden, Sir David Clementi gave amusing addresses.

For more photos, click here 

Monday, 16 June 2014

Favourite Gardens - Bramdean House

The famous mirror borders at Bramdean House

The fine eighteenth-century red-brick house is protected from the A272 road by a huge undulating cloud hedge of yew and box. Behind the house five acres of garden slope up through the famous mirror-image herbaceous borders, planted with over one hundred types of plants with nepetas, geraniums, tradescantias and Clematis x diversifolia ‘Hendersonii’.  A broad path bordered by dianthus and roses leads to wrought-iron gates surrounding the walled kitchen garden.  Beyond a second wrought-iron gate lies the orchard with a curving tapestry hedge of alternating box and yew, flowering cherries, and fruit trees underplanted with daffodils. 

Click here for some more photos, taken on rather a dull day

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Favourite Gardens - Stockbridge

Old Rectory garden
Four Stockbridge gardens are open under the National Gardens Scheme in June. Click here for some more photos.

Shepherd's House

Monday, 9 June 2014

The Secret Gardens of Spitalfields

Six gardens in Fournier, Princelet and Wilkes streets were open to the public on 7th June through the National Gardens Scheme, and though all were necessarily small, they were beautifully done. My attention was drawn to them by my favourite Blog, Spitalfields Life. The photos in his post as much better than mine.