Ah! To Be In England!  

Posted by Heidi in

Once upon a time (ten years ago, give or take a few weeks) I was in England, home of my ancestors, hopes and dreams (and Miss Delacourt and Sir Anthony who were, at the time, living in the proverbial drawer set aside for listless manuscripts).

The entrance to the chapel at Charlecote in Staffordshire
Every year at the beginning of September, I have the opposite sensation of the post-traumatic stress disorder I experience every October 17th since 1989 (I rocked in the Loma Prieta quake--literally. A body does not forget such things.) The first five or so years after my lifelong-longed-for trip to the mother country, I experienced a profound melancholy that has since mellowed into a fond memory of delight, very much the way I feel after eating a Dove vanilla ice cream bar enrobed in milk chocolate.

I love the reflection of the spire in the window on the front of Byron's house, Newstead Abbey

This year, as a way to celebrate and immerse myself in the atmosphere of Jolly Old, I decided to scan some of my favorite photos (I didn't go digital for several years later), crop them in interesting ways (no? well, interesting to me, anyway) and change them to black and white (not sure why they call it that when it ends up being mostly gray). You can find, if the spirit so moves you, most of the full color originals at http://www.heidiashworth.com/

The terrace at Powys Castle, Powis, Wales

The back garden wall at Powys

Newstead Abbey near Nottingham, one-time home of George, Lord Byron

What's left of the chapel at Newstead after Henry the 8th got done with it. Note the empty statue niches--religious icons smacked of popery so Henry, the father of the Protestant church, sent his soldiers to smash them. The one at the top of the chapel wall at Newstead was just too high.

My favorite building at Newstead--the stables. This is where they parked the horses. Priorities and all that rot . . .

The same shot in color because I wanted to.

The back of Newstead Abbey. In this picture, it looks very Dickensian but, believe me you, when you are wandering around there under a drizzly sky, it's pure Austen. We got there the day before it was closed for the season and I have thanked my lucky stars ever since.

A window embrasure at Warwick Castle in Warwick (the second w is silent, doncha know). I included this photo simply b/c I relish the idea of using the word "embrasure" though I am sure I must have used it in Miss Delcourt Speaks Her Mind somewhere which just goes to show how much I like it.

The house across the River Dee from where we sat eating our lunch (al fresco) in Chester on a gorgeous sunny-yet-crisp September day. Ah, to be in England! . . .

Part of Rowton Castle where my parents spent their 50th wedding anniversary

A window on the street outside Chester cathedral

A window at Charlecote Chapel

Charlecote cemetary

A romantic tombstone at Charlecote (I love cemetaries, always have, always will)

A restaurant down the street from where my parents lived (for 18 months) in Stoke-on-Trent. I like the regency-ness of it, being called Bonapartes, an' all . . .

The back of the house at Biddulph Gardens, a most glorious place to visit in late summer.

St. Mary's cathedral in Warwick which contains the Beauchamp (pronounced--in England, that is--Beechum) tower which is my ancestor, and, incidentally, the maiden name of a twice married favorite novel heroine (which means, if she were real, we would be related).
(Alas, she is fictional but it took my meeting her creator before it really sank in . . .)
One day, I will go back to England. I might even visit more of London than the tarmac at Heathrow while I'm at it.
(See my sidebar for fun eBay auctions, including a size 12 American Girls Pleasant Co. Molly Christmas Dress for your own little girl.)

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 24, 2009 at Thursday, September 24, 2009 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

19 wise, witty and wonderful comments

Holy cow, these are gorgeous!

September 24, 2009 at 6:26 PM

I am drooling. I have always wanted to go to England, and now, this is proof as to why!

September 24, 2009 at 6:38 PM

Wow Heidi! Wonderful pictures! Thanks for sharing!

September 24, 2009 at 6:56 PM

Isn't England Beautiful? I lived in England a year and a half ago, and it was so picturesque!

September 24, 2009 at 7:20 PM

Oh-those are simply beautiful! I love how you've made them "gray."

September 24, 2009 at 7:21 PM

I so full of yearning and wanderlust right now, and it's only partially because of the bed rest...beautiful pictures...

September 24, 2009 at 7:25 PM

Um, when you go back, can I go with you? I am dying to go to Europe. England would be perfect, but I would pretty much settle for anything across the "pond."

September 24, 2009 at 7:41 PM

The blog title is very APPROPO! Simply delightful, Heids! My jealousy is only rivaled by my...unfortunate drool all over the keyboard. These are just BEAUTIFUL!!!

September 24, 2009 at 7:43 PM

My last trip across the pond, I stayed with friends from mission days in France, but I was all alone the week I was in England. Would love to go back with the DH.

Great photos!

September 24, 2009 at 8:42 PM

Oh, I am jealous. A dear friend of mine is heading that way in two weeks. Sigh. If I can stow away in her suite case....

September 24, 2009 at 9:04 PM

Heidi, these are gorgeous! I love how timeless they become when they're in black and white...they literally seem like backdrops for your book!

I love England too! I've been there four times, and every single time it's so hard to tear myself away from all that history, family and otherwise.

I also understand how melancholy fades to a chocolatey sort of longing...I have a few tender dates like that myself.


September 24, 2009 at 9:15 PM

Oh, lovely. I adore the black and white.

I'm also related to Beauchamps! We must be related! That explains so much.

September 25, 2009 at 6:07 AM

Wow. Can I come when you go again. I've been dying to go to England. . .

September 25, 2009 at 10:34 AM

Of course, having said that, I can now hear my mother in the back of my head saying things like "Dying Eowyn? Really? You look fairly good for dying."

I'm a dork from a long line of dorks.

September 25, 2009 at 10:35 AM

We were in LA for only a few months when that qualke hit in '89 and we felt it all the way down there. Pretty darn scary.

I miss England incredibly. I have absolutely no ancestors from there, but still feel the tug. If we go soon on another study abroad assignment you can come and stay in London with us for free. :)

September 25, 2009 at 1:43 PM

Absolutely beautiful. Why do my pictures never turn out like those???

September 26, 2009 at 8:07 AM

These are so beautiful. I would love to live in England for a few years again someday. All that beauty is like food for my soul.

September 26, 2009 at 12:29 PM

I went to England in 98. I would love to go back with a group of girlfriends and visit again! Those pictures are beautiful.

September 26, 2009 at 3:38 PM

Holy cow, I was looking @ those picts, thinking, "I've been there!" I loved Newstead Abbey and Warwick Castle, too. I was there last in 1992 for one month in a town called Sutton-in-Ashfield (Midlands area). I'm beside myself because I'm going this next week for 2 weeks. {Can hardly contain my excitement now!! Thanks for the trip down memory lane! I haven't had much time to even read the 15 travel books I checked out from the library...maybe I'll read some on the loooong plane trip over to Heathrow.}

PS: You'll get back to England, of that I'm sure.

September 27, 2009 at 2:18 PM

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