Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Parish Church in Bere Regis, Dorset - listed in
Domesday book, 1085

What is it about literary pilgrims?
I refuse to believe it's about collecting another check
on some literary tourism life-list.

I believe it's a drive in folks who love an author's work to connect with what might have inspired that person to create it, to leave a thank you.

That was certainly the case in 1981
when LOML and I toured  Dorset.

Hardy's birthplace, Higher Bockhampton (1800)
at the edge of Puddletown Heath

I lived, breathed and ate Thomas Hardy on that trip, making pilgrimages to locales associated with his life and work.

The little church at Bere Regis (inspiration for Tess of the D'Urbervilles), the tiny village streets, conjured the claustrophobic and unforgiving hard world where Tess fell and found no soft place to land. I was there.

much of the house is early c.17, Lakeland
vernacular architecture

Next trip, 1987, in love with the enchanting works of Beatrix Potter,and fascinated by her life, I entered "modestly famous" Sawrey, Cumbria to visit Hilltop, the home the writer bought for herself with the proceeds of her writing, when she finally escaped her repressive and conventional Victorian parents. create, to garden and commune with the little creatures in the country she loved.

ah, the Princess Diana years

Touring the house, her sanctuary, seeing first-hand the country furniture portrayed in the water-colours in her books, drinking in the same vistas over stonewalled fields tipping gently to Lake Windermere that she saw... imagining her life there, it was all very exciting and very sweet.

So many of those beautiful lakeland scenes remain, saved from development by Beatrix Potter. She bought and donated many farms to the National Trust, so even today, we are able to enjoy what she enjoyed.

Another visit, to Wordsworth's cottage nearby in Grasmere.....

...a "meh" reaction. I was...there, but nothing stirred. My fault, not Bill's. I have just never taken the time to get inside his poetry or his time.

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