Saturday 1 June 2013


"Wittick", they say. Much easier, less pompous. But it doesn't really do justice to Wightwick Manor, which we visited this morning. From the front,  as you look up from the sundial…

you can see the styles that a well-heeled, aesthetically-minded Victorian felt appropriate to grace his family home.

For this was built around 1890, for Theodore Mander. What is particularly fascinating is the contrast, and yet the harmony, with the interior, which we weren't allowed to photograph. In spite of his wealth having originated in the industrial revolution via a successful paint and varnish manufacturing business, Mander had bought into the philosophy of the Arts and Crafts movement, and the interior is full of William Morris. It is also full of interesting design details from the period – contrasts of lighting as you move between different areas, nooks and crannies (which, I discovered today, were a particularly Victorian feature), a very particular attention to what objets d'art should adorn the walls and shelves. All this in the context of a house very clearly designed for a wealthy Victorian household. I found it hard to judge whether the fact that the attention to aesthetics extended only in part to the children's rooms, and hardly at all to the kitchens and laundry, was due to practical considerations or to a lack of idealism about whether it could be appreciated.

Whatever, we found this a very enjoyable visit. Walking back to Erin Mae, we wanted to buy some potatoes to go with a roast chicken, and had heard there was a small Co-op somewhere. We asked directions from a couple who lived in one of the houses that had been built as servants' quarters for the estate. They said "What! Walk all the way down there just for some potatoes? You can have some of ours!" So, Jan and Mick – thanks a bundle. They're cooking as I write!

And where I'm writing is in yet another of those fabulous places, with evening birdsong in the air, and a field of something green just across from where we have tied up. June 1st has been a sunny day.


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