Sir Edward Heath – at home

Sir Edward Heath – at home in Salisbury

Arundells - Entrance Front

Arundells – Entrance Front

Standing in the wonderful environs of Salisbury’s Cathedral Close is Arundells a beautiful house of Georgian appearance which in part dates back to the mid-thirteenth century.  It was from 1985 to 2005 the home of the former politician and Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath and although he had a long political career the house is very much a personal home which reflects all facets of his life. It is important to remember as you go round it that it remains very much as it was when he lived there.

The Entrance Hall

The Entrance Hall

Immediately on arrival at the entrance hall you get the welcoming flavour of the house and an idea of how the strands of his interests are skilfully woven together. This he achieved with the help of the designer Derek Frost. Many of the paintings in the hall reflect his love of sailing through depictions and models of the five Morning Cloud yachts he sailed and interspersed among them are Napoleonic prisoner-of-war ship models made from bone and rigged with fine strands of hair.  The maritime-inspired combined clock and barometer was a gift from President Nixon.  There are also drawings by Sickert and Augustus and Gwen John.

Sir Edward seated at the piano in the Drawing Room

Sir Edward seated at the piano in the Drawing Room

A photograph of a young Sir Edward with Augustus John and Dorelia can be seen in the adjoining drawing room which is dominated by a Steinway grand piano which Sir Edward played and upon which are photographs of politicians and world leaders.  Among the many artworks in the room are paintings by L S Lowry, Ken Howard RA, Derek Hill and a painting of Heath’s home town ‘Broadstairs’ by Sir Robert Ponsonby-Staples which was a gift from Sir John Betjeman, given as Sir Edward had so often admired it when visiting Betjeman. Two pieces of sculpture one of Sir Winston and Lady Churchill by Oscar Nemon and a bust of Sir Edward by Martin Jennings are worthy of inspection as are the carved Chinese pieces on the mantelpiece and to its right the display of blue and white porcelain including a large pair of bottle vases which were a gift from Chairman Mao.

Portocarrero ‘Girl in a Fantastic Costume Cuba’

Portocarrero
‘Girl in a Fantastic Costume Cuba’

Pictures in the corridor towards the dining room and library include two paintings by Sir Winston Churchill which he gave to Heath.  There is also a fine group of etchings by William Wyllie, two Singer Sargent’s and a painting by the Cuban artist Portocarrero which was a gift from Fidel Castro.

The Dining Room

The Dining Room

The dining room is hung with pictures by John Piper, including two Sir Edward commissioned himself.  The table is set for lunch which was one of his favourite ways of entertaining – roast lamb followed by Stilton cheese, halibut and lemon pudding were among his favourites as were Brussels sprouts – and from the place cards on view when I was there one gets an idea of the wide range of people he invited which included Princess Margaret, Sting and Sir Harold Wilson.  Dame Maggie Smith, Terry Wogan and Yehudi Menuhin are among other well-known guests. There is also a large group of ceramic pieces on display including Tang pottery, Sevres, Chelsea and Worcester porcelain as well as some Copenhagen Flora Danica.

A view of some of the ceramics in the Dining Room

A view of some of the ceramics in the Dining Room

The Library overlooking the garden contains the high wing-back chair Sir Edward favoured and it was where he would entertain and chat to colleagues and friends from all political parties and walks of life. The walls are adorned with 18th and 19th century Japanese prints which perfectly suit the room. One of the major achievements of his political life was a growing rapport between the UK and China which is also reflected throughout the house but he also obviously had an interest in their arts and culture which is particularly apparent in the panels of specially commissioned wallpaper on the staircase which relates the popular Chinese legend of the Monkey King. They were a house-warming present from two of his former Private Secretaries.

The Library

The Library

Upstairs is Sir Edward’s study which was his private sanctum and where he worked at a Georgian writing desk which had previously belonged to David Lloyd-George. Heath’s army career is also recalled in another room with uniforms and other memorabilia on show from when he was with the Royal Artillery during the War and later on with the Honourable Artillery Company. His Garter Banner hangs on an upstairs corridor wall.

The Study

The Study

Downstairs just beyond the stair hall is a short corridor which is hung with political cartoons by leading cartoonists such as Giles, Jak, Low and Trog, many of which feature Sir Edward.  He enjoyed sharing them with his visitors although sometimes I imagine it may have been a wry chuckle.

Emmwood ©The Daily Mail

Emmwood
©The Daily Mail

Outside the beautiful garden, an intriguing combination of open spaces and secluded areas, is very much as created for Sir Edward.  It stretches down to the confluence of the Rivers Nadder and Avon and reveals a wonderful view across to the meadows. In one corner is the restored bow of Morning Cloud III which was sunk by a freak wave in September 1974, and whose two crew members Nigel Cummings and Christopher Chadd (Sir Edward’s godson) tragically lost their lives.

The view from the end of the garden

The view from the end of the garden

At the front of the house with its view into the Close and of the Cathedral is an exhibition space in a building which used to house Sir Edward’s archive.  At present (until mid-August) there is a display focusing on ‘World Leaders of the 1970s: A Decade of Turmoil’ which features President Nixon, Leonard Brezhnev, Chairman Mao Zedong, Willy Brandt, Indira Gandhi, President Pompidou, Kakuei Tanaka, Pierre Trudeau and Henry Kissinger.  Interestingly enough the latter will be giving a lecture in London in October as part of a series of celebrations organised by the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation to celebrate the centenary of Sir Edward’s birth (9th July, 2016). The following exhibition which runs until May 2017 is ‘Heath at 100: A Political Life in Cartoons’ which promises to be a fascinating way of remembering the major events of his time in politics.

Tang Dynasty Horse

Tang Dynasty Horse

My visit made a lasting impression and I would readily accept an offer to live there just as it is, because it’s a happy house of taste, comfort and history.  I can quite understand why Sir Edward fell in love with it at first sight and for us visitors today it is extremely fortunate that he was able to acquire the lease in 1992 and that he formed a charitable trust which allows us to share in the delights of Arundells and to remember Sir Edward, the man.

Sir Edward in the garden. The spire of Salisbury Cathedral can be seen in the background.

Sir Edward in the garden. The spire of Salisbury Cathedral can be seen in the background.

http://www.arundells.org

Hiroshi Yoshida The Inland Sea Series

Hiroshi Yoshida
The Inland Sea Series

British Views

Green and Pleasant Land, Jonathan Cooper, 20 Park Walk, London SW10, until 23rd July 2016

Taha Afshar Cedar Hayes Oil on canvas over panel 21 x 24.5ins (53.3 x 62.2cm)

Taha Afshar
Cedar Hayes
Oil on canvas over panel
21 x 24.5ins (53.3 x 62.2cm)

This show is a celebration of Visit England’s naming 2016 the ‘Year of the English Garden’ and the fact that it is the 300th anniversary of ‘Capability’ Brown’s birth.  Six contemporary artists – Taha Afshar, Roland Corbin, Julia Hawkins, Tom Mabon, Jane Wormell, and John Worthington – evocatively depict the glories of the British landscape, gardens and wildlife whether rural or urban.

John Worthington Trusty and True Oil on aluminium 29.5 x 39.38ins (75 x 100cm)

John Worthington
Trusty and True
Oil on aluminium
29.5 x 39.38ins (75 x 100cm)

http://www.jonathancooper.co.uk

Jane Wormell Blackberry Hedge II Oil on linen 12 x 20ins (30.5 x 50.8cm)

Jane Wormell
Blackberry Hedge II
Oil on linen
12 x 20ins (30.5 x 50.8cm)

 

Julia Hawkins Quiet Evening at Pyrford Lock Oil on canvas 14 x 18ins (35.6 x 45.7cm)

Julia Hawkins
Quiet Evening at Pyrford Lock
Oil on canvas
14 x 18ins (35.6 x 45.7cm)

 

Tom Mabon Bird and Rising Moon Oil on linen 18 x 18ins (45.7 x 45.7cm)

Tom Mabon
Bird and Rising Moon
Oil on linen
18 x 18ins (45.7 x 45.7cm)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roland Corbin On the Water Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico paper 22.5 x 29.5ins (57.1 x 74.9cm)

Roland Corbin
On the Water
Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico paper
22.5 x 29.5ins (57.1 x 74.9cm)

The Empress and the Gardener

The Empress and the Gardener, Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court, Surrey KT8 9AU, until 4th September 2016

The West Front of Hampton Court Palace © State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

The West Front of Hampton Court Palace
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

This is a fine exhibition which combines ‘Capability’ Brown’s role as gardener to King George III and Catherine the Great’s love of things English.  The sixty watercolours and drawings on show reveal the gardens of Hampton Court as they were when Brown was in charge of them but ironically he did not transform them out of respect to these who had created these Baroque-style gardens.

The Privy Garden © State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

The Privy Garden
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

In Russia Catherine had created an ‘English palace’ and ‘English Park’ but lacked a gardener of Brown’s capabilities. However seeing an opportunity Brown’s assistant John Spyers sold two albums of his drawings which he had removed from Brown’s house at Hampton Court to the Empress for a thousand roubles. A huge amount for images that did not show any of Brown’s work and the drawings were lost in the Hermitage collections until their rediscovery in 2002.

The Fountain in the East Front Garden © State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

The Fountain in the East Front Garden
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

Other items on show include portraits of Brown and the Empress, drawings of her English Palace and pieces from the famous Wedgwood Frog Service, made for the Empress, which depict some of the famous English landscapes Brown created.

Portrait of Lancelot 'Capability' Brown, by Richard Cosway (C) Private Collection - Bridgeman Images

Portrait of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, by Richard Cosway
(C) Private Collection – Bridgeman Images

 http://www.hrp.org.uk/

East South Front © State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

East South Front
© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show: Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU, 5th – 10th July 2016

 

 Le Clos d'Hastings ©Stéphane Marie.

Le Clos d’Hastings
©Stéphane Marie.

 World Gardens are a major theme at this year’s show with six gardens reflecting their particular part of the globe and bringing a flavour of why these are popular travel destinations.

The Oregon Garden, The Charleston Garden and The Austin Garden bring these differing areas very much to life while Journey Latin America’s Inca Garden celebrates the Incas and evokes the excitement Hiram Bingham must have felt in 1911 on discovering the lost Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.  Europe is celebrated in The Route of the Camellia Garden a route which took pilgrims through Galicia on their way to the shrine of St James at Santiago de Compostela.  The last historic garden is the ‘Le Clos d’Hastings’ – 1066 Country Medieval Garden. 

Designed by Stephane Marie, this garden which marks the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings is a joint collaboration between the Parks and Gardens of Normandy and the District of Hastings.  It consists of two sections one recalling medieval meadows with barley, flax, marguerites and wildflowers while the other more densely planted section is a riot of plants from around the world which both the Normans and English enjoy today, united by their shared love of botany and gardening.

It won a Bronze!

 

 

http://www.rhs.org.uk/hamptoncourt

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RHS show information: http://www.rhs.org.uk/shows

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 RHS Garden Holidays (http://www.rhsgardenholidays.com)

WP_20160704_14_59_07_Pro

BOOK REVIEW: A Brush with Brown

A Brush with Brown

The Landscapes of ‘Capability’ Brown

Tim Scott Bolton

Dovecote Press
ISBN 978-0-9929151-3-1
£25.00

 

 51hVcKFUYPL

In his thoughtful introduction Prince Charles reminds us that Brown was made Chief Master Gardener at Hampton Court Palace by George III and that he restructured the grounds of Buckingham House  ‘the foundations of which survive today as the gardens of Buckingham Palace’.

For this really enjoyable celebration of ‘Capability’ Brown’s genius the accomplished artist Tim Scott Bolton visited and recorded nearly a third of the gardens Brown is known to have been involved with from the north of England to the south.  The text is also enriched by Scott Bolton’s observations on the thoughts and processes behind his pictures.

I shall leave you with this thought:

A contemporary of ‘Capability’ Brown’s once said to him, ‘I very earnestly wish I may die before you, Mr Brown.’

‘Why so?’ he replied.

‘Because I would like to see Heaven before you have improved it.’”

 

 

http://www.dovecotepress.com

Capability Brown

Capability Brown at Compton Verney

 

(C) Stuart Thomas

(C) Stuart Thomas

This year marks the the 300th anniversary of the birth of the truly great English gardener Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and it is being marked by many events in the wonderful landscapes he created for his patrons around the country. It is fitting for me to begin my occasional coverage with Compton Verney where an important restoration project is taking place, thanks to a £2.5 million Heritage Lottery Fund Grant.

Meadow

Meadow

Brown would say to prospective clients when viewing their estates that the place had “capabilities” – thus earning his soubriquet.  By moving hills, damming rivers to create lakes, and planting trees he literally remade the gardens into what is now celebrated as the quintessential idyllic English landscape. Among the features Brown introduced at Compton Verney were the ice house and a new chapel to replace the old one he had pulled down as it spoilt the view.

West Lawn Cedar DJ 2008

West Lawn Cedar
DJ 2008

 

Ice house © 2013 John Cleary Photography

Ice house
© 2013 John Cleary Photography

 

 

 

http://www.comptonverney.org.uk