Despite the wealth of 17th Century historical material available, I still find it difficult to picture everyday life in the great houses of George Herbert's time. Half the attraction of visiting National Trust properties is imagining what it must have been like to live there - to cook in those enormous kitchens, without so much as an electric whisk, let alone a gas oven.
Fortunately many National Trust gardens still look much as they did in Herbert's day. We went to the Rose Garden at Mottisfont Abbey again this year, and it really is quite a show! And not so many roses, but plenty else at our own 'Open Gardens” event in Lower Bemerton last month. Thanks to a fine afternoon, and to ten generous households, we raised nearly £2000 towards turning St.Johns Church into a shared community centre and worship space.
The architect's plans are now with English Heritage, before going to the planners, and all being well we will go the village to ask for their financial support in the autumn. George Herbert drew inspiration from nature all the time, so one only needs to see a daffodil to be reminded his poem 'The Flower', or others like 'Posy', 'Wreath', or 'The Rose'. It's hard to work out whether it's a miracle we share anything in common with the 17th Century or lamentable that we don’t share more. Flowers and poetry are fine, but not sure I’d want their toilets or lack of telephones!
I’ve thought of a new chapter for The Country Parson, but can’t decide which title to use - its not about betting on the horses or getting elected! With both our children now at our lovely primary school, the annual sports day event and picnic became one of those great work/play overlaps.
So let me simply say that at the grand old age of 47, probably inspired by the Olympics last year, I’ve finally come first in something. I was part of the winning team in the parents race at school sports day! There wasn’t a strong field (we were the only men’s team) and let’s just say everyone was on the podium. You can see me in action, using a special technique to keep the bean bag on my head. I’ve now outlived Herbert by 6 years here and one can only imagine what he would have been inspired to write, had he been part of his nephew’s school days!
Incidentally, for those of you who just can’t get enough I’m now on Twitter - revwoodley.
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