Sunday, 8 March 2009
A step back in time
There are times when I think I was born in the wrong era, and most definitely in the wrong class. It's all very well reading about people with big houses, holding wonderful soirees, having my portrait painted by John Singer Sargent or Joshua Reynolds. There are some wonderful houses in literature - Jane Austen has some fantastic examples, as do the Brontes, Henry James, Edwith Wharton and not forgetting some of our more recent authors, Agatha Christie, Evelyn Waugh, Daphne du Maurier and Kazuo Ishiguro - however, none of these compare to those in reality, and sometimes the stories that issue forth from places like Chatsworth are far more intriguing than anything an author could dream up.
Such a place is Cliveden - home of Waldorf and Nancy Astor, and the place where the infamous Profumo affair started. I went to lunch there yesterday (it's now a hotel) and feel that I can only belong in a place like Cliveden.
This is the entrance hall - not your usual setting for hanging your hats - and with Nancy Astor overseeing your every move, in the left hand corner, you wouldn't be cavorting too much.
A view from the upper terrace
This is Nancy Astor's butler - theirs was a volatile relationship, and on one occasion of his giving his notice (a regular occurrence) Nancy replied 'Where are you going to, for I shall follow you there.' Needless to state, he didn't go anywhere.
We sat in the middle window - a wonderful view ...
As can be seen below ....
One day - all this shall be yours*
It is, I think you will agree, beautiful and completely beyond most of our grasps. So it's back to the novels to give us what we want. Which literary mansion would you wish to live in? For my part, I think Dartington Hall, from 'The Remains of the Day' would be perfect!
*What, the curtains? (ten points for telling me where that's from!)