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The Return of Ulysses - a new book by local author Professor Edith Hall

The Return of Ulysses: A Cultural History of Homer's Odyssey - written by local author Professor Edith Hall and published by I B Tauris & Co. Limited.

Marathon Bible Reading - Shipston on Stour

Bible. Image (c) FreeFoto.com

Thursday September 20th - St.

100 Years of Hidcote Manor Gardens - Restoring the garden to its heyday


Following on from July's article...

After Lawrence Johnston's death on 27 April 1958, the National Trust sought to let the manor house in order to raise some funds to help to maintain Hidcote Manor garden and had a freer hand to manage the garden. The furnishings in the house had already been sold at a sale at the property in late 1956 and then work was done to bring the house into a suitable state for letting.

Several prospective tenants were interviewed in September 1958 by the secretary of the National Trust. This resulted in a fourteen year tenancy at a rental of £250 a year being offered to Sir Gawain Bell who accepted it and undertook to furnish Hidcote as soon as possible. His intention was to make Hidcote his home when he retired from the Foreign Office in 1960.

It was evident in these early years that the National Trust had an annual deficit of some £1,000 to £2,000 each year in the running of Hidcote and this shortfall had to be found from the gardens fund. Consequently, when structures in the garden, such as the plant house by the lily pond, fell into disrepair consideration was given to whether to repair or demolish it. Although it was initially decided to repair it, the lack of funds led to a decision to demolish it. Sir Edward Salisbury, director of Kew, visited to identify which plants should be retained in a smaller plant shelter elsewhere in the garden.

100 years of Hidcote Manor Garden continued


In the June Bulletin, the events of 100 years ago when Lawrence Johnston and his mother, Mrs Gertrude Winthrop, came to Hidcote Manor and then the subsequent creation of Hidcote Manor garden leading up to its heyday in the 1930s were recalled. In this article, the transfer to the National Trust in 1948 and subsequent developments at Hidcote up to Lawrence Johnston's death in 1958 are covered.

In the 1930s, Lawrence Johnston was actively engaged in seeking plants for Hidcote or for his garden at Serre de la Madone at Menton on the south coast of France. He was both a sponsor of, and went on, plant hunting expeditions to places such as Formosa (Taiwan) and to Yunnan in China. When he was at Hidcote, he led an active social life as his diaries for 1929 and 1932 show that there were many coming to see the garden or to play tennis. Towards the end of the 1930s when he was in his late 60s, he spent his summers at Hidcote and the winter months at Serre de la Madone.

During the second World War he was concerned about the taxation associated with living in England and began to consider what he should do about Hidcote. James Lees-Milne, whose parents used to live at Wickhamford, records in his diary that in February 1943 at a luncheon organised by Sibyl Colefax, an influential figure in London society who is mentioned a few times in Lawrence Johnston's diaries, Johnston took him aside to ask if the National Trust would take over Hidcote without endowment after the war when he intended to live in the south of France for good.

Following the end of the war, Sibyl Colefax wrote in April 1947 to James Lees-Milne who was then working for the National Trust to say "I was over at Hidcote with Vivien Leigh Saturday. Laurie Johnston wants to give Hidcote to the N. T. now. So do get him tied up. You see he is not gaga but has no memory. He told me, indeed took me away specially to talk of this."

100 years of Hidcote Manor Garden


It is one hundred years ago since Lawrence Johnston and his mother, Mrs Gertrude Winthrop, came to Hidcote Manor. On 22 June 1907. The Times advertised the Hidcote Manor estate, described as a valuable freehold farm comprising some 287 acres and 34 perches to-be sold by auction at the Noel Arms in Chipping Campden on Tuesday 2nd July 1907, with possession on 29th September 1907 - Michaelmas day, when most agricultural leases began and ended. The advertisement said that the farm would be sold together with the: very substantial and picturesque farm house, stone built, with, entrance hall, fine oak staircase, three sitting rooms, eight bedrooms, two box rooms, and usual offices, with lawns and large kitchen garden.

It went on to note that: the farm is particularly healthy, being situate on a spur of the Cotswolds at an elevation of from 500 to 800 feet above sea level and from it extensive views of the counties of Warwick, Worcester and Gloucester can be obtained. Meets of the Warwickshire, North Cotswold and Haythrop [sic] Hounds are within easy distance, and the partridge shooting on the estate is good.

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