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Bristol , United Kingdom
I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

A visit to Wightwick Manor

You wait thirty years for the chance to revisit an iconic Arts and Crafts House and then another trundles over the horizon eight days later.

First, though, before I even clapped eyes on the Manor, I picked up this jay feather in the grounds. Yes, it's a bit tatty, but it only proves it's been both beautiful and useful in its time.

As you would expect, Wightwick is full of William Morris designs, beautiful Morris & Co furniture, and exquisite Pre-Raphaelite art, and like Standen, there are lots of books and websites with excellent photographs of its decoration and contents, whereas mine are mostly dark, peering-around-the-corner pictures, or of details that caught my eye and were less overwhelming than the entirety of the place ...

... because it is overwhelming, Wightwick, in a way that Standen isn't. In fact, I always think it would be the perfect place to hibernate in (as long as you could afford to keep it warm, and had the energy to get around somewhere that big), but I wouldn't like to live somewhere like that all year round. I think it's to do with the ornate ceilings that are beautiful but somewhat oppressive, and also the dark feel of the house. Of course, this is due in part to the need to protect the handblocked Morris & Co wallpapers and rugs, and the eye-wateringly valuable paintings and drawings from sunlight, but I wish the National Trust could come up with a way of lighting the rooms to give you a better idea of what they would look like if they didn't have to be so heavily curtained. 

Actually there probably is, but the need to make such a system as unobtrusive as possible would doubtless make it very expensive.

There is a room that takes my breath away, though, and it's the Great Parlour. 

The Kelmscott Chaucer

The dining room

The upstairs isn't open to visitors at the moment, which is a shame as I really love the nursery, but the behind-the-scenes part of the downstairs is, where there is less grandeur to detract from the detail ... 

... and familiar sights and smells from what is suddenly a long time ago.

Wooden tongs, wooden clothes horse, mangle ... 

... carbolic soap!

When I arrived at the Manor, the volunteer on the door told me I'd found nothing had changed over the last 30 years, but that's not the case, as the de Morgan Gallery in the Malthouse certainly wasn't there back in the early 1990s, though it's far too much of a feast to convey here. 

Every time I see Evelyn de Morgan's portrait of her husband, William, my initial and immediate impression is that he's holding the world in his hands, rather than a piece of lustreware, and in terms of creativity, I suppose that's so.

There were still a couple of hours to while away in the gardens and grounds, which were beautiful.

In addition to my jay feather, I found some others I'm struggling to identify. (Feathers are tricky.) The one with straight bars looks quite cuckoo-ey to me, although they should be long gone. (That said, I did hear one late last summer in Bristol.) 

Oh and these I think are mallard feathers, not least because of nearby evidence.

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