Presents Of A Lifetime

Perhaps it was the two dogs in this picture that prompted me, about a dozen years ago, to say to my mother “Mum, I’m not going to buy you anything else that I wouldn’t want back eventually”. It would have been more than thirty years ago that I bought her these Balinese carvings from a friend of Jessica who shipped them over here., along with the reindeer whose story is told in “Surprise”, from a friend of Jessica who shipped them over here. These artefacts were very in vogue at the time. I knew Mum would like them. I don’t. They remained on either side of her fireplace until she moved to Woodpecker’s Care Home.

It had long been her custom to stick a label beneath each of her store of ornaments and other treasures indicating whoever had given them to her and consequently to whom they should pass at her death. There has been a limit to what she has been able to to take with her to Woodpeckers so she and Elizabeth have begun decanting them now.

I have quite forgotten donating many of these gifts, some of which were given with Vivien who died in 1965. I suspect the ceramic basket is one of those.

The copper bowl and ceramic vase both bear the name of Jessica who died in 2007.

The glowing, perfectly fitting, treen container was bought with Jackie at Chichester’s Christmas market c2011.

Apparently my daughter, Louisa, bought the china dish, and I bought the Royal Grafton thimble.

This collection was brought over by Elizabeth yesterday. It is the first batch of my share of the presents of a lifetime.

This evening we dined on succulent roast pork; sage and onion stuffing; crisp roast potatoes; firm carrots and cauliflower; tender runner beans, and meaty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Repasse de Montagne 2019.

An English Country House


Fulbeck Hall 2

Yesterday I featured a porcelain restoration class held at Fulbeck Hall. tells us that

‘Fulbeck Hall is a fine country house dating from the early 17th-century, but largely rebuilt in 1733 by Francis Fane whose family had lived there since 1632.

The house, now a Grade II* listed building, was completely refurbished following World War II, by Henry and Dorothy Fane, having been left in a desperate state of repair by the army who had requisitioned it during the conflict.

The house, with 11 acres of formal gardens, has beeen restored back to its former glory and is now a private residence. It is not open to the public.

Visitors to the nearby Church of St. Nicholas will see monuments to the Fane family, residents of Fulbeck Hall for nearly 400 years.’

A more detailed history is provided by Wikipedia. From the following extracts I have deleted those sections in need of reference citations.

‘The hall was purchased, in 1622, by Francis Fane, 1st Earl of Westmorland, 8th Baron le Despenser and de jure 8th and 6th Baron Bergavenny, of Apethorpe Hall, Northamtonshire, from Sir George Manners, who remained in residence until he became the 7th Earl of Rutland in 1632.[11] The hall then went to the Earl of Westmorland‘s son, Sir Francis Fane,[11] a courtier, Royalist and commander of the King’s forces at Doncaster and Lincoln.

Under the Commonwealth, the estate was confiscated, however, Sir Francis Fane was allowed to buy it back, and before the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, he and his wife Elizabeth Darcy, daughter of Sir Edward Darcy MP, grandson of the executed traitor Thomas Darcy, 1st Baron Darcy de Darcy, occupied much of their time in rebuilding the Hall in Restoration style. It was burned down 30 December 1731,[11] and was rebuilt 1732-1733. His son, also Sir Francis, married Hannah Rushworth daughter of John Rushworth MP and private secretary to Oliver Cromwell .

In 1767 Fulbeck Hall was left to Henry Fane of Brympton owner of Brympton d’Evercy who was a grandson of Sir Francis Fane, the second of Fulbeck and Hannah Rushworth. Henry Fane of Brymton made a fortune as a successful Bristol privateer and he left his Wormesley estates in Oxfordshire to his younger son Henry and his estates in Somerset, Dorset, and Lincolnshire were left to his eldest son Thomas Fane, 8th Earl of Westmorland Thomas, 8th earl inherited the estates of his father and his cousin the 7th Earl making him one of the richest landowners in England. He left Fulbeck Hall to his younger son the Hon Henry Fane MP in 1783. (This man) followed a long list of Fanes as Members of Parliament for Lyme Regis the famil[y’]s pocket borough inherited from an uncle, John Scrope MP, Secretary to the Treasury and grandson of the executed regicide Colonel Adrian Scrope. The constituency at times provided the Fanes with two members of parliament at the same time and between 1753 and 1832 twelve separate members of the family represented Lyme Regis in the Tory interest. Throughout this period the Fane family also represented Constituencies in Somerset, Lincolnshire, Kent, Hampshire, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire. In 1777 Henry Fane married Anne Buckley Batson, heiress of the Avon Tyrrell estate in Hampshire, by whom he had 14 children. 

During the 19th century the house was home to General Sir Henry Fane MP for Lyme Regis who was Commander-in-Chief, India as well as his brother General Mildmay Fane. Sir Henry bequeathed a life interest in the estate to his eldest son Col. Henry Fane(d.1836).[12] His nephew General Walter Fane who raised Fane’s Horse a regiment of volunteers to fight in China during the Second Opium War succeeded him at Fulbeck Hall. This regiment still exists as part of Pakistan’s armed forces. General Walter Fane is not to be confused with his brother Colonel Francis Fane of Fulbeck Manor, who raised the Peshawar Light Horse in 1857 as an irregular cavalry unit to fight against the mutineers during the Indian Mutiny. This regiment was disbanded in 1903.

During the Second World War 1939-1945 the house was requisitioned by the British Armed Forces and it was the location of the 1st Airborne Division before they left the United Kingdom for the Battle of Arnhem.

Many of the contents of Fulbeck Hall were sold by Sotheby’s in October 2002.’

Soon after the porcelain restoration event, in February 1993, I returned to make photographs to feature in a brochure for Mary Fry, the then owner. Today I scanned a selection of the prints.

Mary Fry in doorway

Here Mary stands at her open door

Entrance Hall

leading to the entrance hall,

Mary Fry in reception room

off which is found the reception room.

Sundial and entrance drive

A sundial can be seen standing before the main door in the initial picture. The avenue drive  leads the eye from this to the gates.

Mary Fry in drawing room 1Drawing room 2Mary Fry in drawing room 3

The elegant drawing room is beautifully furnished with fine furniture, ornaments, paintings,

Drawing room pianoPiano open

and a grand piano.

Drawing room detail

Here is one corner of the room.


My accompanying text is written in the present tense, as in 1993, but I have no idea whether this vase, seen beneath the mirror above;


this painting; or any of the other contents in my pictures, survived the sale of 2002.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausage casserole, perfect roast potatoes, and crisp cauliflower. I drank more of the malbec.





Gusting 50+ miles per hour winds wreaked havoc overnight and today. They are due to continue until tomorrow morning.

Fallen chairs and potFallen chair and potFallen potFallen pot on decking

Pots and chairs, even the new heavy wooden ones, were blown down,

Nicotiana bent

and the taller plants, such as the nicotiana staked up a few days ago,  were bent over once more.


Some stems were broken off and, like this beautiful begonia, found their way into vases known as accident pots. These containers are so called because of the occasional mishaps occurring during ordinary maintenance, not the results of elemental vengeance.

Struggling to steer our own course in the face of the gusting blasts, we did a little recovery work, including tying up roses, and laying down items, such as hanging baskets and more chairs, that were likely to suffer. We left the nicotiana because the cane snapped as I tried to insert it, and I couldn’t be bothered to search out another. Especially for the Head Gardener, this was all rather dispiriting. We don’t, just yet, want to be reminded that Autumn is around the corner.

This evening, for dinner, we consoled ourselves with Jackie’s delicious sausage casserole, crunchy carrots, crisp cauliflower and cabbage, followed by steamed suet pudding and cream. I drank more of the Alentejano, and Jackie drank fruit juice.

‘I’m Sorry About The Chip’

This afternoon, we set off on a series of visits in and around West End.

Bee on Daffodil 1

In order to prepare for the first, to Margery and Paul at Bitterne, I gathered up the before and after albums of the work on our garden, and made a random selection of close-up prints of the flowers and insects, in order to discuss my contribution to the next The First Gallery exhibition.

We spent quite some time with these friends, and John, who was also visiting. I left the albums and photographs with them, for further discussion nearer the exhibition planned for 1st April, co-incidentally exactly two years since we moved into Downton.

From there, we went on to Mum’s in West End, where we chatted for a while. I have already mentioned how our mother is preparing for the future by labelling all the belongings she has been given by us all in the past, so that we receive them when she dies. She has also begun to pre-empt this event by handing out items in advance. Today she presented us with a box of bubble-wrapped goodies.

Vase, teapot, mug, dish

There is a hand-painted vase bought for her by Jackie; a cut-glass silver-rimmed dish given by Jessica; and a Chinese teapot and lidded mug from Jessica and me. ‘I’m sorry about the chip’, said my apologetic parent. There was a chip in the lid of the drinking vessel. I replied that since she has owned each one of these treasures for at least forty years, she could consider herself excused.

From Mum’s we drove to Elizabeth’s. My sister followed us to Brockenhurst, where the three of us dined at Dynasty. In keeping with our intention to eat more lentils, we shared a side dish of dhal and vegetables. My main course was fish jalfrezi. Jackie and I drank Kingfisher, and Elizabeth drank a Chilean merlot. Despite the fact that the restaurant was packed out, we received the usual warm welcome and friendly service.

Canal Holidays

Lilies in Becky's vaseWhen Errol brought the children down for the weekend on 1st, he gave us a large bunch of lilies. Each day since, we have watched for the opening of the petals. We were rewarded today. They now have quite a heady scent. The treasured stoneware vase containing them, was made for Jessica and me by Becky when she was studying art at Newark College in the 1990s.
Jessica and ImogenAnother memento of a wonderful weekend has been placed on her Facebook page by Louisa, who took this amazing iPhone photograph. The perfectly framed image shows Jessica and Imogen finishing off the sparklers they took home with them. Hebe

Hebes are blooming again in our garden.

I spent most of the day scanning fifteen very poor prints from 1980 and ’81. These were of varying shapes and sizes, often out of focus, and many had been produced with the use of ageing chemicals. None was larger than 9 x 11 cm. You could probably say it was a labour of love.

Our nephew Mark, fondly remembering canal holidays shared by my sister Jacqueline’s family and Jackie, Matthew, Becky and Ian Stockley, had, at Chris’s funeral on 31st October, asked for copies of Jackie’s thirty plus year old collection. The two families had very happy times on narrow boats. Matthew, Becky, Little Jack, Mark, Alex, James 5.80 May of 1980 was the bobble hat month. Matthew, Becky, and their cousins James, Mark, Little Jack and Alex, all bought hand-knitted hats from the woman Becky, Matthew, Little Jack & Mark 5.80who had made them, then Becky, Mat, Little Jack, and Mark re-enacted the iconic Beatles 1969  ‘Abbey Road’ album cover along the canal bank.

Becky, Mark & Alex 5.80That same year Becky wasn’t too confident when the boat got up to the maximum 4 mph. Mark & Becky 5.81 001By May 1981, she must have been more so, but fell in the water and was fished out by Mark.

Jacqueline & Jack 5.81Jacqueline 5.81My sister Jacqueline was happier being photographed on entering the boat with her husband Jack, than when emerging from the public convenience.

Becky and Flo 1997Before producing the canal holiday print, I carried out a tester on an equally small but better preserved tender photograph of Becky and Flo who, albeit on tiptoe, had only been walking for about a month. This is quite heavily cropped. It was taken at the end of 1997 by Jackie, who, of course, had produced all the canal trip pictures.

This evening we dined at The Crown in Everton. I enjoyed my customary steak and kidney pudding, ball of winter vegetables encased in a skin of cabbage, chips and gravy; as did Jackie her scampi, chips and salad. We both chose steamed syrup sponge pudding and custard, and certainly didn’t regret it. Jackie’s drink was Peroni and mine was Doom Bar.

Cleaning And Hanging

This morning’s test confirmed that Matthew has successfully cleared our shower soak away. Goodness knows what the blockage was, but Bullitt had not penetrated it.
To begin the day, Jackie and I each carried out a fairly extensive cleaning task. Personally, I think I drew the short straw. My task was the removal of the third lavatory seat, the scouring of the porcelain, and the fitting of a replacement. Mat and Tess had brought us the replacement yesterday. we had actually given it to them for Christmas, but it didn’t fit their colour scheme, so they bought another, and we bought this one back off them. That way they still had a present from us. Should anyone wish to read a description of the seat replacement process, I would refer you to ‘Beyond Rancid’ posted on 8th of this month.

Jackie chose to clean and polish the refurbished clock given to Jessica and me by Michael thirty three years ago. And a very good job she made of it too. It is a much lighter wood than I have known for years.
This afternoon hanging was the task. Whilst Jackie hung a pair of curtains she hand bought in B & Q on a length of dowelling from Knights ironmongers, I paid attention to a couple of pictures.

The curtains frame the kitchen window rather nicely, and happily blend with the cloth that happened to be on the dining table. On the bottom left of the window-sill stands a stoneware vase that Becky made for Jessica and me when she was an art student in the early 1990s. Suspended from the ceiling at top right are a set of wind chimes made from silver-plated cutlery given to me by Michael’s children when they were all quite small. They are on the list for a polish.
Towards the end of the last decade, when I was living in Sutherland Place, I printed a large number of A3+ size prints of my colour slides, and began a practice of changing those on display each week. I bought two large frames with perspex windows having magnets at each corner. It was a simple process to slip out on photo and insert another. Now we have a suitable property in which to begin again.
We had a diversion to B & Q in Christchurch, where we bought a spirit level, the like of which has been a stranger to our house for many years. My pictures are held by two nails, so a means of ensuring they went up in a straight line was a definite requirement.
I have chosen to reproduce the framed hangings as they are in situ. This means that the observant viewer will be able to work out where they are in the house.

The portrait of Michael in the kitchen sink, taken by me at Ashcombe Road whilst Vivien was bathing him, is from August 1965. Is there anyone who has at no time bathed their child in the kitchen sink?
By September 1967 when the next photograph was taken, Vivien had died and Jackie and I had met. One pleasant outing was taken with Jackie, her mother, and her sister Helen.

This picture was in a carriage of the Romney, Hythe, and Dymchurch steam railway. It has always remained one of my favourites. I have never returned to that tourist attraction, but Jackie, who has, tells me that the view we had enjoyed on that day is now obscured by houses.
Giles Darvill is one of my oldest friends, and, by virtue of living in Milford on Sea, is now a neighbour. This evening Jackie and I visited him and Jean, his lady friend, and dined on an individual curry carefully selected by Giles for each of us. Jackie drank Kronenberg and the rest of us two different red wines. Giles had not seen Jackie since 1972, but the years just rolled away and we enjoyed very pleasant company.
The stained glass piece my friend made for my fiftieth birthday has already been mentioned. Other works of his also adorn our home. The fascinating fact is that, of my possessions brought to our joint home, Jackie selected those for display without knowing their pedigree.