Sunday, October 30, 2005

English Eccentrics by Dame Edith Sitwell

On English Eccentrics

In his blog, The Emotional Blackmailer's Handbook, Tristan Forward wrote: "i had to screech to a halt today after glimpsing one of mad jack fuller's follies
i'd been introduced to him by the late great edith sitwell in her lovely book "english eccentrics" which celebrates the energy and passion and humanity of those who are extremely disinhibited for one reason or another" (October 18, 2005)

A poet and literary critic, Edith Louisa Sitwell(1887-1964) "was born in Scarborough, Yorkshire, of aristocratic but eccentric parentage of Lord George Sitwell and ex-socialite Lady Ida Sitwell of Renishaw Hall. She would later claim that she was descended from the Plantagenets. She had two younger brothers, Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell who were well-known literary figures in their own right and long-term collaborators. Her relationship with her parents was stormy at best, especially when her father locked her into an iron frame to "correct" her supposed spine deformation. In her later autobiography she said that her parents had always been strangers to her."

I subsequently borrowed a copy of "Dame Edith Sitwell's witty excursion into the world of English Eccentrics", 1933. A quick check of the index revealed no mention of Jack Fuller. A thorough reading netted the same result. Can anyone shed any light onto the subject?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Perch Hill Farm

Jack Fuller bequeathed Perch Hill Farm to his gamekeeper Abraham Baxter:

"I give and direct unto Abraham Baxter of Brightling aforesaid my gamekeeper all that messuage or tenement farm lands and premises situate in the Parish of Brightling aforesaid called or known by the name of Perch Hill Farm which I lately purchased of George Hoad"
lines 70-72, Fuller's will

Adam Nicolson, Grandson of Harold Nicolson and Vita Sacville-West,his wife Sarah Raven and their children currently live at Perch Hill Farm. Nicolson wrote " Perch HIll Farm, A New Life", (Penguin,October 26, 2000, ISBN: 0140290893) about their adjustment to life in rural Sussex:

"Adam Nicolson's homage to a new life is set to become a modern classic of rural England. Funny, poetic, ironic and wise, this is a profoundly moving and beautifully crafted book about his search for the rural idyll.

A particularly savage mugging in London was the catalyst for his move in search of a rural Arcadia. And so, without knowing one end of a hay baler from the other, Adam Nicolson escaped with his family to a run-down farm in the Sussex Weald. What he found was a mixture of intense beauty and profound chaos. Over the three years that the book describes, he struggled with dockleaves, spring flowers, bloody-minded sheep, his neighbours, his woods and his fields, before eventually arriving at some kind of equilibrium.

Perch Hill traces the growing intimacy between a man and his chosen place, his love affair with it and his frustrations with its intractable realities. As an attempt to live out the pastoral vision, it makes one heartfelt pleas: we should never abandon our dreams."

Read full article here.

2005 marks the 200th anniversary of Nelson's victory at Trafalgar. The bell ringers at Brightling Church are participating in a national bell pull on Sunday October 29th to commemorate the event. Adam Nicolson's book "Seize the Fire : Heroism, Duty, and the Battle of Trafalgar" Harper Collins,September 1, 2005, ISBN: 0060753617) examines the cult of heroism from a new angle.

"Seize the Fire not only vividly describes the brutal realities of battle but enters the hearts and minds of the men who were there; it is a portrait of a moment, a close and passionately engaged depiction of a frame of mind at a turning point in world history."

For more detail click here.

Nicolson's wife, Sarah Raven has presented special features on the BBC's Gardeners' World about growing cut flowers and vegetables.

"Columnist and writer Sarah Raven runs gardening courses at her home Perch Hill Farm in Sussex, and manages a seed catalogue.
Sarah's well known for her love of growing flowers that can be cut and made into colourful indoor arrangements. As well as her home-run courses, she lectures all around Britain.
Sarah specialises in teaching people who've never picked up a spade, let alone pricked out a zinnia! Her seed catalogue contains unusual vegetables, salads and herbs, as well as flowers grown specifically for cutting. She grows plants to supply her courses, and for weddings and parties.
A columnist for a national newspaper, Sarah also writes for Sainsbury's Magazine. Her first book, The Cutting Garden, won The Specialist Gardening Book of the Year. Her more recent book, The Bold and Brilliant Garden, was runner-up to Gardening Book of the Year."