Down in Wiltshire, just north of Tisbury, there's a country estate. It is currently in the possession of the third Baron Margadale. In the heart of the estate is Fonthill House. Surprisingly it is a fairly modern property - built as recently as the nineteen seventies. There were other grander versions of Fonthill House in the past but one burnt down and two others were demolished.
Normally Fonthill House and the lanes that wind up to it are not open to the public but on Sunday the estate hosted a charity event, raising money for young carers. Shirley and I decided to go along.
We saw Alastair Morrison - Baron Margadale (see right). In fact, I nearly told him to shift himself when he stood in front of me and Shirley as we were watching a fine performance by bubbly soprano singer Poppy Neame. Fortunately for his lordship, he moved along just as I was rising out of my garden chair to give him a hefty clout round the back of his aristocratic skull.
Back in 2016, he and his daughter Nancy were in the news in a bad way when numerous local residents complained about the din wafting over the fields and hedgerows from Nancy's twenty first birthday bash. There were big speakers, a live band and the all night event finished at eight thirty in the morning.
On Sunday, as Poppy's set was coming to an end, Lord Margadale made a special request that visitors should rise to sing the national anthem in honour of Her Majesty and in celebration of her Platinum Jubilee. It was all so terribly twee - like an echo of all our yesterdays.
As we looked around and caught snatches of conversations, we felt that we had arrived in a very different England from the authentic one we know. This was an England of privilege and chocolate coloured hunting dogs, of "Barbour" jackets, panama hats and floral fabrics by Laura Ashley, of received pronunciation and financial security. "Did you ski this winter?", "Yes we're going up to Scotland in July", "Are they delphiniums or hollyhocks?"
Following a walk in Little Ridge Woods, behind Fonthill House, we drove on to a thatched country pub in the village of Swallowcliffe. I had spotted it during my morning walk. Sitting at an oaken table in front of "The Royal Oak", we met Lori and John from Edmonton, Canada. They are over here on a guided ten day walking holiday with all arrangements covered by a niche holiday firm. They seemed generally thrilled to be here and it was nice to chat with them for an hour before they wandered back inside the pub for dinner.
I love the rich purple color of the flowers in that one photo. In fact, it's now my background picture.ReplyDelete
The event certainly doesn't sound like the kind of thing you would typically enjoy. It sounds oh-so-snobbish. I'm sure "his lordship" thinks he and his family are far above the average person.
You are right Jennifer. Not really "our thing" but even so we loved Poppy Neame's voice and her enthusiasm.Delete
Doesn't that all sound like a lovely English day?ReplyDelete
Except for Baron Margadale and his backside.
I would have loved to have a fight with Baron Margadale. I swear I would have beaten the shit out of him.Delete
Oh, those flowers, Neil! What a glorious photo!ReplyDelete
The well-tended garden was in perfect condition. His lordship employs two gardeners,Delete
That was an interesting place to visit. You had some entertainment and most of all you met some cool Canadians.ReplyDelete
They said they knew Red Deer quite well but had never heard of an ex-teacher called Keith Kline! Are you sure you exist?Delete
The Baron seems like a perfectly decent chap, even if he was minus a proper necktie. And Poppy has quite the voice. I wonder if she's a friend of the Baron or how much her appearance set him back.ReplyDelete
Barons tend to have mistresses. Maybe Poppy is one.Delete
It's a parallel universe, isn't it, but can be fun to visit for a day or even just for a couple of hours.ReplyDelete
How the other half live. Perhaps that was the "real" England.Delete
It looks like a lovely place for an afternoon tea party. I'm surprised at people not knowing the difference between delphiniums and hollyhocks. The delphiniums shown here are a beautiful shade of blue.ReplyDelete
Not everyone is a horticultural genius - like you Madam River!Delete
Well, Ms. Neame is certainly an amazing soprano. So there is that.ReplyDelete
With training, I believe that you could sound like that too Mary.Delete
What an amazing voice Poppy has. The gardens are lovely but the whole thing seems slightly off putting. You met people from Edmonton ! How exciting for you. Maybe I know them, 😆ReplyDelete
Maybe you do. I told them that one of my blog friends was from Edmonton but I couldn't remember your real name. Shirley thought that they may be retired health professionals - probably doctors.Delete
You're turning into a Wiltshire Pudding.ReplyDelete
It's not as good as Yorkshire but still a good county.Delete
Interesting that the house is so new. It's probably a lot easier and more economical to care for than those old, drafty relics from hundreds of years ago.ReplyDelete