Thursday, February 21

fences & gates

The old country estate where I live is now owned by the National Trust.
There are lots of public tours and footpaths but for my
early morning walk I choose the hidden trails
where wildflowers and ferns grow without restraint
and badgers turn the banks into a quarry-scape of deeply dug setts
which the NT consider too hazardous for the general public.
On my walk this morning I was noticing
fences that keep us out and gates that let us in
(or is it the other way round?) 
from natural barricades cut and laid, as they have been for centuries
to stout holly hedges neatly shorn- no longer by an army
of estate workers but by tractor and flail.
Fences hastily erected
using whatever comes to hand
and fences double constructed- the old with the new.
Fences to keep people out
keep trees in. . .
keep posh trees in. . .
and gates to welcome people in
even if they're a bit hard to find!
this (my most favourite hidden place) is Lady Gate
where the Lady of The Big House used to walk through the woods to church.
The symmetry of barbed wire
straining at it's posts
and rusty old iron railings that gave up the fight a long long time ago!
And the grandest?
these gates erected in 1879, through which carriages once swept
on their way to the Big House.
Standing as silent witness to society's comings-&-goings
 until road access was altered in the early 1970s.
When the Gentleman of the Big House died in 1981 it was the largest bequest
the National Trust had ever received.
Walls hung with priceless paintings, library shelves lined with rare manuscripts,
inherited Grand Tour artifacts shipped from the mysterious East,
 vast houses, endless acres of fields and woods, beaches and cliffs-
even a real life ruined castle.
He fell out of love with it all, became a recluse and shut himself away
in two rooms with just a housekeeper for company.
I think of him sometimes when I'm walking; admire the trees he planted,
the vistas he viewed, the land he squired, the herd of pedigree cattle
in which he took such interest
and wonder how he could've been so unhappy?


Carol said...

How lucky you are to live in such a beautiful place. And I know just what you mean, wondering how the gentleman could've have been so unhappy with so much beauty around him. Only recently a friend of ours who seemingly has everything, health, wealth, a family who love him, attempted suicide by jumping from a window. Fortunately he only sprained an ankle, amazing really but so sad. He suffers from depression, so sad.

Vintage Jane said...

What a lovely place to be able to walk.
Perhaps the responsibility of being custodian of so many grand things just became too much of a millstone around his neck. Perhaps his simpler life was less of a burden and carried less expectation? M x

KC'sCourt! said...

I love those sort of walks. Thank you for the virtual walk. As a member of the National Trust which house is that?
Julie xxxxxxx

Lazy Daisy Jones said...

You are very lucky to live where you do...we all wave to you now when we pass!
i imagine you at the window sitting with your and laptop waving back?
Daisy J

Vintage Tea Time said...

I enjoyed that 'walk' - thank you! I love gates and fences - in fact I did a photography project on them at college, many moons ago. I wonder why and how the Squire became so despondent? Rejected in love? You can live in the most beautiful places and yet still be so unhappy; I know that from experience (not currently!). Thanks for your comment - I like the idea of the mobile, but sad that it shattered!

Sue said...

A wonderful set of pictures. I enjoyed that walk around 'your' estate :-)

Sometimes the people you think have got it all have something missing from their lives that we know nothing about and are the unhappiest and the folk we see with with apparently 'nothing' are the happiest with their lot.

Sue xx

Molly said...

This is a lovely blog and I enjoyed the virtual walk with you so much. All that history - amazing.

Trixie@ the vintage bothy said...

I nearly called in to see the snowdrops but the seaside won me over....

sandiart said...

I love all these photos, especially the gates they remind me of my most favourite gate that belonged to my Aunt and Uncle on their farm, brings back so many happy memories and the smell of the tree ferns and the little creek that ran through the front of the property. I used to ride the horse when I stayed there, they had ducks and chooks too, it was heaven for me.
Your little robin sounds gorgeous, singing for his breakfast!
xx Sandi

Sylvia said...

Looks like a lovely morning walk, Elaine, interesting collection of fences and gates, I love the rusty ones !
Nice evening,

lettice leaf said...

Makes me go all funny when I see farm gates, thoughts of gates in disrepair, tied with baler twine, the strain of having to lift them open, on top of a hard, hard day.

Boy am I happy I'm now a fully paid up, card carrying lotus eater.


Nostalgia at the Stone House said...

Hi Elaine,
Thank you so much for your kind comment on my blog...

Your local walk is stunning...I guess some of these grand homes become a bit a noose around their owners necks and a huge financial burden...But with such natural beauty around him, you would think the owner of this estate could have made the best of things!

Lets hope for more signs of spring this week...
Niki x

delia hornbook said...

I think it just goes to prove that money doesn't buy you happiness. Being peaceful with oneself does. Love the grounds you have some beautiful places to walk and admire. I would love to have seen inside his home and been a fly on the wall at his parties in times past. dee xx

nilly said...

Lucky you! I wonder if you are allowed to wander anywhere you wish? Free entry to the house? We hope to see those Grand Tour artifacts this year some time - right up Mr N's street!

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