Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Jamaica, Mells Manor, Rossetti and Baobab Fruit...

I have just spent a lovely weekend in Somerset. I went down by train with my friend Clare to support Andrew who was giving a talk about his family’s connections with Jamaica and the village of Comerton.  The talk was held in the lovely little village church  (which had some interesting effigies). The entire village population had seemingly turned out and there was cake and coffee in the interval- I felt as if had walked into an old Agatha Christie film, it was all so very charming and English. Andrew was on great form and spoke eloquently about Jamaica; the Kerr-Jarretts and the Jarrett-Kerr’s – yes, one branch of the family is called one thing and the other branch is called the other, for some reason which I never quite fathomed...
Clare’s family home where we stayed is the wonderful 16th century Mells Manor. I had always wanted to see it, because my beloved friend and mentor Princess Lulie  often spoken about it. She used to go and stay, and described it as ‘the coldest house in England’. Her connection with the family was ‘Trim’, Julian Asquith, Earl of Oxford and Asquith with whom she danced at the Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo during the war. (See January 8,  2013: my obituary of Lulie  from the Independent )
Sadly  both Lulie and ‘Trim’ are now gone, and I never had the pleasure of meeting him. The new Earl and Countess are Clare’s brother Raymond and his wife, also called Clare. They were the kindest of hosts and we had a lovely time. I slept in ‘the Oak Room’ where I was watched over by a version of Rossetti’s La Donna della Finestra which looked almost like this picture- I am so annoyed that I managed to forget to bring a camera! The Manor has lots of exciting things to look at, such as the embroidered scarf that Mary Queen of Scots wore when she heard her death sentence, as well as a many Burne-Jones paintings. It has a choice of lovely fireplaces which all seemed to be lit; this was welcome since the weather was pretty grey and cold. But Lulie would no longer be able to describe Mells as ‘the coldest house in England’ for it has been totally refurbished and is now warm and comfortable. It is a very friendly and cosy house, luckily devoid of any ghosts (I did remember to ask before going to bed just in case...)


Blogger Susan Scheid said...

Though you may have forgotten your camera, you've given us a lovely picture here in words. I did laugh at the coldest house in England comment--there must be have been so many contenders for that, at least in the past!

5:45 PM  

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