Thursday, July 26, 2012

Norton Conyers

I couldn't believe it. I was going to a place where Les Norton was bound to have ancestors. No doubt most of you have no idea who Les Norton is, so a brief explanation is probably necessary. Les is the hero in a series of books by an Aussie bloke (former butcher) called Robert Barrett. Les is quite a scallywag and solves unusual mysteries or gets into all sorts of adventures. I usually find the books really funny and every year when I go to Oz I usually try to find the latest book to read.

So here we are at Norton Conyers. And this building would form the mystery part of the Norton book since there is legend about a mad woman confined in the attic. Charlotte Bronte stayed at the house and used the legend in Jayne Eyre.

But we were not here to visit the house, we were here to visit the walled garden.

The garden does have a wall that encloses an area of 150 yards by 75 yards. 

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If you zoom in on the above map you can see the garden just to the west of the house. It dates from the 18th century. This is one of those blogs where I won't write much commentary. Just scroll down through the photos and enjoy.

This photo does not do justice to the beauty of this path down to the gate. This garden was wild and woolly compared to the gardens at Arundel Castle and Michelham Priory but it was just as beautiful.

Looking back up the path to the Orangery.

With all the rain that England gets you would wonder why they have a hose, but then again, they probably don't use it to water plants but to clean dirt off things.

The sort of heavy roller that made those ultra smooth English greens.

Inside the Orangery.

The garden is tended by three gardeners, one male and two females. The two ladies were pruning a huge bush but found time to talk to us.

Our friend, who is a much better photographer than I will ever be, often comes here and know the owners. We met the wife and when I mentioned that my mother would have really enjoyed this garden, she was so pleased. Like many of these old estates, it is difficult to keep them going and they rely on visitors and wedding receptions to keep going.

We left the garden and walked back to the car via the house. It had many out buildings including the pig sties that are now used to store mulch. 

When you see worn stone steps you get a sense for how old this place is.

Horse barn with no horses. You can get a sense of just how much money it took to run these country estates and of course how much man power.

So if Robert Barrett ever turns up here, look out for a new Les Norton book. It's a pity the author is sick and can't travel here because I think Les in rural England would be a riot.

Here is a link to the photos that Catherine took. Go about half way down the blog. A good camera helps but you need to be a really good photographer to do work like this. It was fascinating one evening to watch her review her photos for the day. She is quite ruthless and deletes most of the photos she takes. She does work on them digitally to crop, remove dust and to enhance the colours a little.

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