Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Visit to Hemmingford Grey and Wimpole Hall

Last Saturday 25 of us went on a coach trip! Ruth had kindly organised a fabulous day for us, and arranged for fabulous weather too! The day was warm, but not too sunny, and Ruth even scheduled the only shower for while we were on the coach!
Our first stop was for coffee and biscuits at The Cock Inn at Hemmingford Grey (and a toilet break!) which was very welcome, since the Lutterworth and Rugby contingents had left home around 8 am.
Then a short stroll along country lanes to The Manor, former home of famous author, gardener and patchworker Lucy Boston. The house is the oldest continuously inhabited house in the country, the old part dating from the 1100s and the new part from the 1600s. Here are a group of members in front of the house waiting to begin the tour.
The garden was absolutely magnificent, and seemed to go on and on. It was an old fashioned cottage garden, with lots of paths, nooks, crannies, lawns and magnificent herbaceous borders. Here are Muriel and Chris being dwarfed by plants I have no idea of the name of! Incidentally, they haven't just struck out amongst the plants, but are on a path, albeit a narrow one!
Here is Chris, seemingly being left behind by her friends - I'm sure it wasn't quite as it looks!
While everyone enjoyed the garden, it was the patchworks which really interested us. We were not to be disappointed. Diana, Lucy's daughter-in-law, told us that when Lucy had first moved to The Manor with her husband, she had bought a couple of hexagon patchwork quilts which were the perfect size for blocking draughts from the lounge windows. One of the quilts had a label saying 'started in 1801, finished in 1803' and due to their age, the draughts and smoke from the fire, the quilts eventually started to wear. Lucy repaired the quilts and this started her interest in making patchworks of her own. Unfortunately Diana did not want me to take photos of the quilts,
but I have found this picture of her most famous design, The Patchwork of the Crosses. The block is completely made over papers, and consists of lozenges and squares (some on point). Due to Lucy's clever use of value and pattern, no two blocks look alike, and several are almost unrecognisable as being the same design. If you would like to look at some interpretations of this block, look here. Lucy's coverlets were made over papers last century, but retained a vibrancy and modernity which excited us all (especially Sylvia, of which more later!). This quilt was made for The Astronomer Royal, and used lots of celestial motifs. If you would like to find out more about Lucy Boston and Hemmingford Grey, I can recommend a visit, or if all else fails, look at Celia Eddy's wonderful article here. After a very pleasant lunch overlooking the water, it was back on the coach to visit Wimpole Hall, a stately National Trust property.While we enjoyed the house, the gardens and surroundings, it was again the patchwork (this time an exhibition) which had drawn us. No photographs allowed again but we enjoyed looking at others' work, although some pieces were a bit arty for our tastes, and some of the prices were a bit mind boggling! Still, we decided that it was the time which had gone into the pieces (mainly wall-hangings) which was important.

By this time, many of us were taking refreshments in the courtyard. Ann was determined to make the most of her day and was on her way to scan the second hand books! Many thanks to Ruth for organising the day, and we look forward to the next trip!

1 comment:

Catherine said...

Wow -- thank you for posting and sharing your visit to Lucy Boston's home. I'm in the process of making a Patchwork of the Crosses quilt and am absolutely fascinated by her and her quilts!