Archive for 17 July 2016

Good As New

Cappuccino Classics

Re Issue of Green Dolphin Country

First published in 1944, Green Dolphin Country is a magnificent epic of love, courage and selfless devotion, set in the Channel Islands and New Zealand in the nineteenth century, written with Elizabeth Goudge’s inimitable feeling for the intricacies of human emotions.  Though the book is fiction, and the characters not portraits, it is based on fact.  A stunning tale of loss and self-sacrifice, it is truly one of the most memorable love stories of the last century.

About the author:

Elizabeth Goudge (1900-84) was the author of several novels, short stories and children’s books. Goudge was awarded the Carnegie Medal for The Little White Horse (1946), a book which J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, lists among her childhood favourites. Green Dolphin Country (1944) appeared in the US as Green Dolphin Street, and was subsequently  adapted as a film under the same name.

About the foreword writer:

Eileen Goudge is the best-selling author of Garden Lies, Such Devoted Sisters, Blessing in Disguise, Trail of Secrets, Thorns of Truth and more.


“Breathtaking ” A long vista of undulating story, with here and there peaks of volcanic excitement.” Daily Telegraph ”

About Capuchin Classics:

The Capuchin series aims to offer the book-lover a range of reprints of outstanding works which have undeservedly been forgotten or are not easily available in the British market, alongside a choice of literary favourites which are themselves in the classic genre.

Green Dolphin Country will be published with Messer Marco Polo by Donn Byrne, The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle and The Incredulity of Father Brown by GK Chesterton in July 2008.

Goudge’s Ghosts


June 2009’s website article


On our recent visit to Rose Cottage, we took the opportunity to visit places in the vicinity that Elizabeth had been to and written about. I love to think of her tramping the lanes with her dogs, getting to know the aspects of her new home as she approached it from different angles and routes. Then later maybe, being driven by Jessie through the changing seasons of this gentle landscape.

The land here becomes much more intimate; a long thin ribbon of hills stretching away towards Bedfordshire, which are covered in little woods and spinneys with open farmed land in-between. The soil looks almost white because of the large quantity of stones, chalk and flint, which litter the surface of the fields. Scratch a slope and find the chalk, white ribbons ascending hills. Tethered above almost every field was a Red Kite, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many in one county, banking and billowing just like the fields they flew over, same colour as the winter woods falling away behind us. The air was raw, and a grey mist concealed all distances, enhancing the remoteness of this place, set apart from the corridor of man’s development ,which trails into London and out to the ever growing towns in the country.

Avenue of Limes

We came upon Turville, Elizabeth’s template for Appleshaw, by surprise, and drove to park under the avenue of Limes. They had grown into small spinneys either side of the lane and were not in leaf. But their supple tops still swayed and gossiped to each other, while their feet were pooled in the azure of blue bells. We walked the lane under them towards the village hearing the wind in the branches and little else except the call of birds.

The village is lovely, all red brick warmth and steep tiled red roofs grouped around a green, with footpaths leading up to the Chiltern way and the wonderful black and white windmill which was filmed as Truly Scrumptious’s home in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The church of St Mary the Virgin, used in the television series The Vicar of Dibley, sits to one side of the green and has the loveliest of the flint and stone cottages in its demise, an old fashioned briar rose rambling over its front. One enters the church by descending three steep stone steps and inside it has a pure simplicity that delights. Wooden barrel roof, dark painting of the Madonna and Child in one chancel, and heraldic glass from the former Vicarage in its windows. Outside the graves slope peacefully, like pillows propped up in a bed, and the trees dip and sway on the edges.

The house which could be the model for The Laurels was close to the church, if not opposite. It had a walled garden with a door in the thickness of its stone, but it was called uninspiring Orchard Cottage, and I couldn’t see the tunnel of wisteria which led to the front door, just a gate and a gravelled drive. Probably another instance of Elizabeth transposing a childhood memory to some where else.

The cottages where Paul lived with his bitter wife Valerie are opposite the pub he used and are as compact and charming as Elizabeth describes them, with colourful front gardens and sparkling windows, they are named Wisteria, Windmill and Chiltern their back gardens tucked under the steep green bluff. They are tiny indeed, and you can’t help remembering Valerie’s friends being nonplussed at her complaints about housework, they would be considered small apartments today.


Walking back through the village, we heard the sound of an approaching pony and trap and stopped to watch it pass. Shades were conjured of the two Mary’s coming to the village, one to seek peace and respite from a hostile world and another, a small child come to visit an Aunt, both of them drove with the unaware horse’s handlers. They passed us driving away through the Limes as little Mary would have done, tearfully hoping to return some day to see her Aunt, in her strange house, set apart as if in a painting.

Pony & Trap Turville

Job chapter 14
verses 7 to 9

  1. for there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.
  2. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground;
  3. Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.

This sense of renewal is something Elizabeth experienced again and again through out her life, and it is one of the precious gifts she won, struggling with her own personal demons.

The scent of water was in the air today, misting through the trees and slicking the horizon with the promise of proper rain. It gave to this pretty little village glamour, a soft beauty the harsher light of summer with its compliment of tourists would have destroyed.

We too drove off the same way, and were soon climbing a steep coombe through a magnificent beech hanger wood, whose roots resembling elephant’s trunks held the banks apart so that the road could pass. We stopped at the top of the rise to watch the still sleeping woods slip into the valley and a Golden Pheasant stroll around a field, the Chinese lantern of yet another kite cruising overhead. We passed through Nettlebed, a place of old boundaries and brick kilns which produced clay bricks for local use. This is the village in The White Witch to which Froniga takes Will to be cured of the “King’s Evil” ,the skin disease scurvy. Charles I was staying at The White Hart. Today it is more recognisable as the setting for The Midsomer Murder’s series.

We headed towards Peppard Common and the church of All Saints that Elizabeth had attended during her life in the village. She like Mary wanted the chance to experience the last dregs of country life before they vanished. The village is spread out, more a series of hamlets than a village with a centre, a throw back to ancient times when it was surrounded by extensive common land. Its name is derived from an old word for cattle lands and the Pipard or Pypard family who once held the local manor at Blount’s Court, The Court famous for a tulip tree which was planted by Charles I.


From the outside the church is sturdy, built of local flint and brick with a distinctive red tiled steeple. It’s surrounded by a large church yard bordered by mature trees. Inside is surprisingly spacious, white walled, early arches and good wood. The stained glass is varied, of a high quality and depicts unusual themes; such as the west window showing the Northumbrian saints St Bede and St Aidan, all stormy seas and misted islands against which the saints are resting. The central window in the north aisle shows a memorial to Nicholas John Cottle licensed Reader of this Church, incorporating the figure of the intellectually brilliant 5th century Bishop St Augustine of Hippo, last seen on our visit to Ely cathedral. I’m sure as an avid reader Elizabeth would have enjoyed this particular window. But my favourite is a small slim window situated in the south side of the chancel which has the words “Blessed are the peace makers” on its jewelled colours. A kneeling knight offers the hilt of his sword to make a cross, and his hand is being shaken by another who stands to one side. The figure of Christ dominates the background. The alter is one of the loveliest pieces of marketry I’ve seen, and is a representation of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, with the faces of the disciplines vivid under a well placed spot light. I can see why Elizabeth came to love and venerate this church; it contains enough beauty to satisfy the soul without being pretentious or distracting.

I sat for a while towards the back of the church where I thought Elizabeth might have sat and remembered poor Mary in her Christmas church feeling dark and separate until the walls cracked and the fire came out, and Lucilla lighting up the morning for Hilary when she attended the morning service, and John Wentworth, Parson Hawthorn, and even Adam Aylescough in Ely, all stumbling their way towards God, all reaching for the bliss of perfect communion, and just for a moment, I felt close to them too and therefore to Elizabeth, a moment of connection.

Her memorial service was held here on Friday 6th April 1984 and attended by her family and friends, a thanks giving for the life and work of a great lady. Traherne’s prayer that she quotes in Scent of Water was recited as part of the service.

Interior of Elizabeth's Church

Lord have Mercy
Thee I adore
Into Thy Hands.






A Rose Cottage Afternoon


An Account of the Blue Plaque Ceremony

The afternoon was grey and overcast with mean spits of rain in the keen wind, not the kind of day one would have wished for an event so long anticipated. We arrived outside the whitewashed bulk of the Dog Inn which that same day was re-inventing itself as an Italian Restaurant, and found the verges and car park overflowing with vehicles. Some had come for the restaurant opening but a surprising number were going to the Blue Plaque ceremony.

Dog lane tottered off to the left and disappeared between sodden trees, it looked much as it probably had before tar macadam roads made travelling a pleasure rather than an adventure. Rose cottage is set right on the lane, but invisible from the highway, making it seem set apart.

On first appearances it bears little resemblance to the home portrayed in Elizabeth’s auto-biography, until you notice the thick strength of the chimneys and the rippled red roof line, with windows peeking out from under the eaves. You realize then what a long time it’s sat there, watching and absorbing all the changes that have occurred to it and its surroundings. It would have been very rural when Elizabeth and Jessie moved there in the early fifties. The Blue Plaque was high up under the eaves to the left of the front door, and had been hidden by drapes.

About fifty people had come to share in the event, a good turn out for a gloomy afternoon. It was so good to begin to meet people who had so far just been names and a friendly email or two, that the first ten minutes or were like a family reunion, everyone appearing vaguely familiar. Mark and Liz Dutton, Elizabeth’s heirs, had arrived with their son and a box of books which he was generously giving to any who wanted them; they had also brought a painting of a young Henry Goudge which in the past had hung in the cottage.

Goudge Gathering

Sylvia Gower and her husband George arrived at the same time we did after a long and tiring drive, it was to an extent as much her day as Elizabeth’s, the culmination of all her hard work was finally taking place. Sonia Harwood’s son Andrew and his wife Hilary were present, his mother had been a close friend of Elizabeth. A regal elderly lady called Betty in a wheel chair had already arrived; she had known both the cottage before Elizabeth lived there, and Elizabeth and Jessie after they moved in. Others had known her too, such as Shirley who had looked after them both in their old age.

The deputy head of the Oxfordshire Civic Society gave a short speech on the Blue Plaque organisation, and how many and varied had been the plaques that had gone up in the county and how now Rose Cottage too was on the map. Then the Sub-Dean of Oxford spoke to us about his knowledge of Elizabeth’s writing, and how he remembered Green Dolphin Country and the quote from Ruth in the book .”for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” which had stayed with him all his life, a trait which readers of her work will empathise with, Elizabeth was good at finding an appropriate quote to emphasise her work. He managed to unveil the plaque with a flourish of episcopal purple just before the rain really started to come down and the umbrellas to go up and we were all ushered into the arms of the cottage.

Rose Cottage

The entrance hall was narrow and the stairs to the upper floor rose steeply on the right. On the left was a step down into the main living area, and ahead the new extension and kitchen/diner. Everywhere was clean and bright and the sound of voices emanated outwards to greet us. The main living room was long with a low ceiling and windows in two of its thick walls, an enormous fireplace took up the end wall. Sofas and chairs had been set out around the perimeter, and people were talking animatedly to each other. Elizabeth’s quote about the hospitality of the house sprang instantly to mind. “The great and Christian virtue of hospitality is a rather weakly plant in myself and Jessie; it needs a lot of nurturing; but in the cottage itself it is so strong that the moment the front door is opened to a guest I can feel the delight that rises up from its hospitable old heart. I once entertained thirty writers in our sitting room and even above the noise of the thirty all talking at once I imagined I was aware of the contented cat-like purring of the cottage. It liked it. This cottage knows in its wisdom how much human beings need each other.” (Goudge 1974 p 255). Karen our hostess had laminated the quote and placed it in the dinning room where an army of her friends and herself had prepared a gorgeous buffet.


After a short speech from Sylvia in which she introduced us all to each other the company went in search of hot drinks and the talk of Elizabeth and her life in this amazing place flowed between us. There is never enough time to speak in depth at parties to all the people that you wish to speak to, and that was the only slight disappointment of the day, I wanted to talk to everyone at once and more importantly, to hear what they had to say. I tried to picture Elizabeth sitting by the fire listening to all that was going on but I could not find her in the crowd.

I circulated through the house, listening to conversations about people that Elizabeth had known in the village. Mr & Mrs Baker, not their real names, she took and used in Scent of Water, and how kind and generous an employer she had been, how the garden had benefited from Jessie hard work, and I was shown the small downstairs room in which she had died, not being able to get up the stairs in her final illness. How sad I thought that was for someone who had grown to deeply love the atmosphere and changing views from the room they came to call the captains cabin, due to its size and shape.I spoke at length to the lovely Liz Dutton who had brought a photograph of the Little Things to show us. The glass cabinet contained all the miniatures. A wise lady called Lois who accompanied me upstairs said, “imagine the power of imagination, thought and prayer that must have seeped into the walls of this place, it must have soaked it up like blotting paper.” Suddenly I realized she was right, Elizabeth’s ghost had long been laid to rest, but the power of her mind and thoughts were evergreen and always accessible to those who wanted them. I had so wanted to feel her presence, but of cause Elizabeth would have laughed knowing that it was just a room. Suddenly I was glad that it wasn’t a museum piece, a sad replica of how it had been, it had changed, been transformed as she had.

Front Room Rose Cottage

We wandered back down to find that people were beginning to leave; it was already over. The cottage glowed and I realized that the gloom of the day didn’t matter either, the warmth and light had been contained inside, it came from the people who had gathered to celebrate the life and achievements of a great lady.

The friend who had introduced her to Jessie had found this poem in a Devonshire cottage and copied it out. She sent it to her, as she thought it appropriate to her new home. It shows what the village and cottage were like when she moved here. Then she would have been only a few years older than I am. Like me one of the great joys of Elizabeth’s life was poetry, it seems a good way of ending the account of the visit to her home.


My room’s a square and candle-lighted boat
In the surrounding depths of night afloat.
My windows are the port holes, and the seas
The sound of rain on the dark apple trees.
Sea-monster-like beneath, an old horse blows
A snort of darkness from his sleeping nose,
Below, among drowned daisies,
Far off hark,
Far off, an owl, amid the waves of dark.

Elizabeth had been unable to discover who wrote this haunting and appropriate verse but with a little research I’ve found her.

Rose Cottage from Dog Lane

Frances Cornford (1886-1960) was born and lived for most of her life in Cambridge. She was the granddaughter of Charles Darwin, and on her mother’s side was related to William Wordsworth. In 1909 she married the classicist Francis Cornford, who was to become Professor of Ancient Philosophy at Cambridge, and they had five children. Frances Cornford published eight books of poetry and two of translations. Her Collected Poems (1954), the year Elizabeth moved to Rose Cottage, was the Choice of the Poetry Book Society, and in 1959 she was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

Elizabeth Goudge Joy Of The Snow 1974 Hodder & Stoughton.


Rose Cottage Event

Dear Karen,

Thank you so much for making us all so welcome, it turned a grey day into a golden one. The cake was delicious; we nearly came back for another slice!

Nick has some lovely photos of the event, some of which will be a permanent feature of the site, and others of which will accompany the article I’m writing.

Like all social events, there is never enough time to speak to all the people one wishes too and I would love to return one day and see you again.

The work you have done on the house was beautifully done, sympathetic and made it look as if it might last another 200 years or so.

A lot of people have enquired about the possibility of a future Goudge event which sounds a great idea, as long as they don’t expect it too soon!

Thank you again for your hospitality, you helped me achieve a major ambition in being able to see Elizabeth’s former home.

regards Deborah


Deborah – lovely to hear from you – and it was so nice to meet everyone on Saturday.  Names and faces together at last.

I am so glad that everyone enjoyed the day – despite the weather (understand this weekend is going to be blissful!).  The last to leave (about 6 p.m.) were Elizabeth’s family members and it was very interesting to get their insight on Elizabeth and their comments on what we have done with Rose Cottage (favourable thankfully).  We enjoyed it immensely – and it certainly made us get a move on with some of the work.

Someone has sent me a photo of Ken trying to get the tea bags out of the thermo-jug with chopsticks!  I would like to make a photo-board up of the day in due course.

I will send you a photo taken of myself and my team of friends – without whose help I could never have managed on the day – at the end of the day.  The power of women to get things done eh?

regards Karen


A Different View of The Rosemary Tree

As a Canadian/American who read The Rosemary Tree for the first time just a few years ago when in my late 40’s, I just wanted to say I found it rather depressing on the first read-through, but that it has grown on me since then. It is now one of my all-time favourite books. I keep it by my bed and often read and think about it. Currently I’m searching for a good hard cover copy within my price range; the paperback one I own is literally fallen to pieces, with no two pages connected together. I have to hold the book together whenever I read it, and as you can guess that’s hard to do when one is lying flat in bed.

When I was around 12, I read my mother’s old copy of Gentian Hill. I liked that better at the time because it was about a little girl of approximately my age, though of course I didn’t understand most of what was going on under the surface until I re-read it again as an adult. But Stella was really what modern “fan-fiction” experts call a “Mary Sue,” an impossibly flawless character who often represents, consciously or otherwise, the idealism of the author. There aren’t any characters like that in The Rosemary Tree. (I suppose Margery Wentworth comes closest.)

The reason I have come to appreciate The Rosemary Tree is that every time I read it, I see something new. The first thing I noticed, on about the second read-through, was that it was Harriet sitting at her window who started many of the other events in motion. As I was describing the book to others, I was surprised to realize as I heard myself say it, “This old woman who used to be the nanny but is now crippled by arthritis sits in the window and prays for everyone as she sees them go by. And slowly, all around her, things begin to change.”

Later I saw the contrast between Harriet, crippled by arthritis, in more or less constant pain, and unable to leave her room, who ranges far and wide in her thoughts and prayers based on her love for the family, and Mrs. Belling, crippled only by her own selfishness, who stays in her room because she is too lazy to leave it, and whose thoughts and aspirations have shrunk and shrunk over the years until all her love and care go only to making herself physically comfortable.

And still later I made the connection between these two and the third old woman of the story, Miss Wentworth, who was self-centred as a younger woman, lived to regret it, and is given another chance at loving and giving in her old age.

Then I noticed that the whole book is about second chances. Daphne, bitter about (among other things) the disappointment of her romantic concepts concerning marriage, is given a second chance to sort things out not only with her loving but inept husband, but with her first fiancée who hurt her so badly. Michael is given a second chance at resolving things with Daphne, with his own tragic past and with his personal moral weakness. (He even gets a second chance at romance with a decent woman when Mary shows up.) Mary is given a second chance at choosing to extend friendship to someone she has not considered a friend (Miss Giles) and to extend mercy where she believed it was not warranted. Even Margery, the most nearly perfect character in the book, is given a second chance at schools: she may, if she likes, quit attending Oaklands right now and go to another school where she would not be ill-treated, and she chooses to stay on till the end of the term–a sign of maturity, as she now understands why Miss Giles is so cruel.

It was chilling to realize that Mrs. Belling, too, was given a second chance of sorts on her very deathbed–the kind inner voice urging her to “call the little dog out from under the bed” where she had flung it in a rage, injuring it–but that she said “No” and chose, once again, her own selfish comfort, in the last few hours of life. She was the only main character who did not accept the necessity of, and opportunity for, personal change.

This would make an interesting movie if whoever undertook to adapt/direct it could manage to pick up on the possibilities for character development, action, and even a certain amount of comedy. It would be a pretty bad movie otherwise.

I enjoyed reading about Elizabeth Goudge on your website. Perhaps some day I’ll be able to read more of her work.


Barbara Bell A D

Quilted Quotes

Quilted Quotes

Came across the Goudge site while hunting for the exact quote from the “The Rosemary Tree”I’m pretty sure.  I am away from my books, too, or it would be simple to find it.  I think it was “The Old Knight”?  And the lines were about youth and beauty being “flowers, fading seen”  and duty being  “trees, and evergreen”.  If you know another source for the poem than the book or happen to have it memorized (as I thought I had) please contact me.

Dear Sallie,

You were right it’s from the poem by George Peele which sets the scene for The Rosemary Tree,  a trait Elizabeth loved to do.

The Old Knight

His golden locks time to silver turned;
O time too swift, O swiftness never ceasing;
His youth ‘gainst time and age hath ever spurned,
But spurned in vain; youth waneth by increasing;
Beauty, strength, youth, are flowers but fading seen;
Duty, faith, love are roots, and ever green.

His helmet now shall make a hive for bees;
And, lovers’ sonnets turned to holy psalms,
A man-at-arms must now serve on his knees,
And feed on prayers, which are age’s alms;
But though from court to cottage he depart,
His saint is sure of his unspotted heart.

And when he saddest sits in homely cell,
He’ll teach his swains this carol for a song;
“Blest be the hearts that wish my sovereign well,
Curst be the souls that think her any wrong.”
Goddess, allow this aged man his right,
To be your beadsman now, that was your knight.

I like the line “His helmet now shall make a hive for bees;”

probably because my name Deborah means “busy bee” so I have always enjoyed references to them. It’s also reminiscent of ” beating swords into plough shares” a sentiment I also approve of.

Thank you for visiting the site, hope you return to view other articles.

Dear Deborah

Thank you, thank you, thank you!  I had misremembered the bit about “roots”.  I love the poem.  I’m glad to see there is a Goudge site.  Never thought to look before.  I have about 10 of her books, I guess and have loaned them out to my sisters, who have also appreciated them.  We are of an age, you know.  In fact, My Book of Comfort has been with one sister so long, I think she has forgotten it isn’t hers!

I noticed you said Dean’s Watch was your favourite.  I think that might be mine also.  Also loved A City of Bells.  I haven’t been quite as fond of the historical novels.  Thanks again.  I wanted the lines to stitch on a quilt border for my grandson, and I needed to start right away.

Sallie McCauley

The Rosemary Tree

The Rosemary Tree

The Rosemary Tree is Elizabeth’s contemporary novel set in 1950’s Devon. When the book was published in 1956, motor ways hadn’t opened up the countryside; it was still inaccessible to most people. Railways were the transport of the mass of the population, Beeching not having had the chance to wield his axe, and the wireless was the centre of home entertainment, even though the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II had been watched on Bakelite televisions by 20 million people.
In America Martin Luther King was fighting for Black Rights using passive resistance, and here in Britain, Prime Minister Macmillan was telling us we’d never had it so good. Albert Finney and Richard Briars were promising young students at RADA, Just Walking in the Rain by Johnny Ray was on everyone’s lips and a stage production of Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood was headlining The Edinburgh Festival. In the literary world, Dodie Smith’s enduring book 101 Dalmatians was published, Rosemary Sutcliffe was immersed in Roman Britain and children were reading about the Adventures of Biggles and the magical land of Narnia.

We were all still caught up in the undertow of the war, its pale colours leak through into this sad, earnest book. The publishers were unhappy with it, as they thought it was too rigidly Christian to appeal to a mass market. Everyone was tired out, not fully recovered, rationing had only ended two years earlier, and they must have all watched the unfolding of the Suez Crisis and the Hungarian uprising with trepidation. Surely they were not watching the beginnings of yet another conflict?

Elizabeth’s war years had been spent in Devon, first at the Ark and then after it had been built Providence Cottage, and compared to many both she and her mother had an easy war. Their bungalow “Innisfree” had been sold to a family anxious to escape the dangers of London. Devon must have seemed remote enough to be safe. There were no large towns near by to attract the bombers, although two bombs were jettisoned in a neighbouring field, on the way back from a raid on Portsmouth. But the shadow of her fathers death hung over the beginning of this period, he died in 1939, the “threefold chord” was broken. Her beloved Nanny was killed in an air raid on Bristol where she had been living with relations, and the end of the war coincided with her mothers last illness, a sad difficult time. She was nursed by Elizabeth, at home, even though at times she didn’t known who was with her or where she was. Elizabeth must have been grief stricken, worn out and dangerously fragile from living on her nerves, a prisoner to both family and war events.

Superficially the story is about of the Wentworth family and how their lives are transformed by “a wanderer from the outside world “who turns out not to be a stranger at all. (Jacket publicity from the book). John Wentworth is the local vicar and also the titular head of the Wentworth family, who’s Great Aunt still lives in the crumbling family manor house gallantly trying to keep it from being repossessed by selling off other assets and managing on very little, while John and his wife Daphne live in the Vicarage. Daphne is an unhappy woman who feels trapped by her family duties and obligations. Their three daughters attend a pretentious, badly run school where the teachers are battling the warped Headmistress, and the illness of one of only two teachers. John’s old nanny Harriet lives with them, now an invalid, but an indispensable member of the family helping them with love, compassion and her hard won knowledge of life and love.

But, the book is really about prisoners, and the differing forms that imprisonment can take.
Michael, the wanderer from outside the valley, is indeed a recently released prisoner who is running from the shame of his crime and the disgust and pity that he sees in everyone who recognises him. But deeper than this is his desperate need to escape the cowardice he believes he displayed in the war and the fatal consequences it had to his best friend.
Daphne and John are imprisoned in the ruts of a failing marriage, staring at each other from ramparts of their own making, John’s of his sense of worthlessness and failure and Daphne from narrowness and the sterility she feels her life has descended into.
Harriet is imprisoned not only in her bedroom but confined by physical pain, left wondering on her bad days why she has been allowed to live such a dependant, useless life.
Miss Wentworth is imprisoned in the past, reliving her days of youth and splendour, rather than coming to terms with the modern world. Even the house has been allowed to atrophy instead of being given a new lease of life.
Mrs Belling is trapped by her own sloth and greed, having obtained the lifestyle she desired where she did nothing and life came to her, so she is totally unprepared when death does.
Miss Giles by her illness and cruelty to the children and Mary by her temper and slap dash attitude to work. The children trapped by the abominable school that all these bad practises bring about. They are also victims of their parents failing marriage; Winkle’s tantrums, Pat’s bad language, Margery’s timidity being the outward symptoms.
Finally, one could argue that the whole book has been taken prisoner in a bizarre twist, as it is to date the only one of Elizabeth’s works to be fraudulently plagiarised, by an Indian writer, Aikath Indrani who renamed it “Crane’s Morning.”

A famous novelist said at a lecture recently, “writers only make things up as a last resort” which is why good writers resonate with us, we know that they have gone this way before us, a strength that Elizabeth uses well in all her work. Here she gives her father’s physical weaknesses and spiritual strength, plus his love of birds to John who also inherits his large correspondence. “Men and women who had been boys and girls at Belmaray and had left the village would persist in writing to him, men he had known in the war, at sea and in hospital, would persist in doing the same thing. All his old friends of school and college days liked to keep in touch.” (Goudge 1956 p146)

John’s home is an amalgam of all the dark dreary vicarages they had ever lived in.” It was a dreary flagged stoned place where an aroma of mice fought daily with a smell of cabbage and fish. However much Daphne opened the window she could never get rid of the smells, for the damp of the kitchen imprisoned them. “(Goudge 1956 p 18) yet another reference to the general theme of the book

But we receive an insight into Elizabeth herself a few pages on as John battles his fear in the garden. “and fought one of the familiar dreaded battles that came upon him almost daily. The sweat came out on his forehead and his fingers clenched upon the dead bird. He was too ashamed of these paltry battles to speak of them. Since his boyhood he had been plagued by ridiculous obsessions, inhibitions, childish fears and torments of all sorts, but in maturity he had been able to keep them firmly battened down; it was only since the war that they had thrust themselves out again in new forms but with all their old strength.” (Goudge 1956, p 23) I think she is sharing with us how she felt , worn out and dispirited, not wanting to take up living again, not knowing where her life was heading or with whom. It was too taxing to make a fresh start and the old ways didn’t quite fit. She couldn’t slip back into her old pre war routine. Maybe after her parent’s deaths, she too “stared at the ink stains” (Goudge 1959 p 119).

Although she could still paint pictures of the Devon she loved. “was at the highest point of the village, and the orchard sloped steeply above it. Below him the old unpruned  apple trees were still without blossom, but here and there a plum tree or a cherry tree was a froth of white. In the rough grass under the trees were drifts of wild daffodils, and primroses and white violets were growing under the hedge by the gate. Below the orchard were the tall chimneys and tiled roof of the Wheatsheaf, and to the right the village street with its whitewashed cob cottages wound down the hill to the river and the church. All the cottage gardens had their daffodils and early polyanthus and in the water meadows the kingcups were a sheet of gold. The smoke from the cottage chimneys rose gently, wreathed itself into strange shapes and then was lost in the grey of the sky.” (Goudge 1956 p 81) Very reminiscent of the view from The Ark and the vision of Devon she has the first morning she woke there.

Later on in the book she uses an experience of her own life in Devon which was one of her own spiritual highlights, a symbol of great hope and beauty. She had gone out into her garden after a fall of snow and had been marvelling at the purity and silence of it all when she heard ” a solo voice, ringing out joy and praise. One would have said it was a woman’s voice, only could any woman sing like that, with such simplicity and beauty? It lasted for some minutes and then ceased, and the deep silence came back once more.” (Goudge 1974 p 138)
In The Rosemary Tree, John has the experience as a small boy in his garden, although the season has changed the experience is identical. “And then he heard the voice singing. it was like no earthly music he had ever heard, or ever would hear, though the loveliness of earth was in it.” (Goudge 1956 p 154)

She also speaks movingly of the swing into depression and out the other side, something she coped with all her life. Pages 228/229 show how she perceived the lightening of her world of darkness and the symbols that helped her to climb from her own private hell out into the world again. Another insight is also gained into her way of prayer. The total absorption she strived for in communicating with God, the joys and failures that she suffered. “Today, just for once in a way, his prayer would not be quite so desperately unworthy of the God whose wealth of giving seemed washing through him now in wave after wave of warm life. (Goudge 1956 p229) right down to the whole business of intercessory prayer became no more than an arid discipline” (Goudge 1956 p 231) something most people would not own up to experiencing, it doesn’t get more personal and insightful than that.

We also learn about her creative process and her striving to write verse, even down to the possible kernel of a poem she didn’t get round to creating about Pomeroy castle, as Michael one evening in the study of the manor, tries to write about the vision he sees of the generations of men leaving the castle to fight in the world, finishing with the old beadsman at the end. “Patience with the apparent hopelessness of spiritual growth was the man’s task, patience with the breaking chalks and the smudgy drawing of the artist’s.” (Goudge 1956 p 258) Elizabeth admired poets and poetry believing it to be a “high” art. She was friends with and corresponded with many contemporary Poets of her day such as Ruth Pitter.

But for all the characters that she gives the importance of place to, that feeling of not being comfortable else where, is not a trait she shares, managing the many moves to her different homes well. So she must have had a degree of confidence, an inner strength that she didn’t acknowledge and John just doesn’t have. “he had proved himself to be one of those whose physical life decays if uprooted from familiar soil.” (Goudge 1956 p 99)

Elizabeth is often accused of being a “chocolate box writer” whose worlds are just too good and perfect to ring true. But here in this book at least, nothing is truly resolved, just as in life. What will happen when Mary marries Michael? Will Giles be able to cope on her own, or will she revert to feeling lonely and bereft? Will she be physically well enough to cope? What about Mary and Michael’s marriage? Will he be able to restart his career or make a new one? Will Mary be strong enough to deal with the censure and the possible failure of her husband? John and Daphne have for the present made a new beginning to their relationship, but will Daphne remember to laugh? and will John be just able to remember? How will Miss Wentworth, used to the run of a huge estate cope with living in a conventional house in a village? Nothing is brought to a rounded conclusion and we can only hope that lessons for life have been learnt. Elizabeth isn’t an unrealistic writer; she just chose to illuminate the positive swing and did not give glamour to the darkness.

I approached my re-reading of The Rosemary with certain reluctance. It has always been my least liked of Elizabeth’s contemporary novels, I didn’t fully understand why until reading it now in my middle age for the fourth or fifth time. The reason is it holds up a mirror to show us all our petty dissatisfactions with our lives, all the faults and flaws that we have become used to which become all consuming if allowed to dominate us.

Goudge Elizabeth 1956 The Rosemary Tree Hodder & Stoughton
Goudge Elizabeth 1974 The Joy of the Snow  Hodder & Stoughton

A Good Find

March 5, 2008

I was so happy to discover your website in November of last year (2007).  I had set myself the happy task of rereading all of my Elizabeth Goudge books because I felt my vision of the true Christian spirit was fading, and no one I have ever come across has been able to capture the essence of that spirit like Miss Goudge.  That may have been because her work was an integral part of the shaping of my faith.

I first discovered her when I was in junior high school, about 13 years old, and for one of my elective classes I chose to work in the school library because I loved books.  Part of my job was to tidy and dust the bookshelves, and replace the books to the shelves that had been returned and checked in.  I think The Scent of Water caught my attention as I was placing it on the shelf one day because it was such a lovely title and an intriguing concept…rarely does anyone mention that there is a scent associated with fresh water.  Reading the book I was enchanted with her descriptions of the “little things”; with the three necessary prayers the old cleric gave to Cousin Mary in her young distressed state: “Lord have mercy”; “Thee I adore”; and “Into Thy hands”.  The language had a grace and a music of its own and the spiritual depth was a treasure.  I had to find more from this author…and thus began a lifelong love of her work.

In my years of seeking a life of faith I have been helped as much by her books as by the Sunday school classes and Bible studies and services I have attended.  She has a way of teaching through her characters and her stories that is inspiring without being “preachy”.

So here I am, over in America, at the ripe old age of 56, celebrating 43 years of “fan hood”, and through the internet I discover I am not the only person who still loves her writing.  And I am delighted that you have so much here for me to explore!  Thank you for providing an opportunity for Goudge fans to learn more about her and to share our appreciation for her books with one another.


Louise Clark Ashburn

Tennessee, USA

Forward Article


About a year ago I was sent a copy of a rare piece of Elizabeth’s writing, by an American University Librarian called Anne Salter. As with all deceased writers there is something doubly precious in finding a new piece of unknown writing, the chances to have them “speak” to you being limited. This piece was even more unique as it was about her Father, and had been commissioned for the forward of his book “Glorying In The Cross” an academic work on Christian life and worship. It gives a rare insight into one of Elizabeth’s most important and intensely personal relationships.

The forward is biographical, charting the growth of her father, physically, mentally, and spiritually starting with his early years and the strict home life that he grew up in, I can’t grace the time with the title childhood. It reminds one that the perceived romantic notion of childhood, is a recent, middle-class idyll, and certainly wasn’t the common experience of most people in the past.

He was born into a London family on 21st December, 1866, he was a delicate child, two of his older brothers had died in infancy, and it was several years before a sister was added to the family group. They moved from North London to the healthier surroundings of Blackheath, high above the roar and pollution of fast developing London. His father worked for the Bank of England, and his Mother was an invalid who suffered all her life with asthma. They were deeply, strictly religious Protestant Evangelicals, “every thing that was fun was wrong” (Goudge 1940 p11) yet her father developed a sense of humour, she believes in self-defence. He also managed to cultivate a love of the theatre and cricket, a game he could actually see being played from his window. Although his asthma stopped him from participating in the games he loved, it doesn’t occur to anyone that he had a long arduous trek across the heath each day to school and back, no matter the weather, and endured the usual bullying that all public schools seem to subject their boys to, under the impression that it will, presumably, inure them to life’s hard knocks. Luckily for him it seems he was clever enough to graduate quickly and escape the situation.

His religion was the standard he set himself throughout his life, and he was always open to questions and answers to test his faith, stretching the limits of his knowledge and experience so that he could make up his own mind, come to his own conclusions, measured by the yard stick of the teachings of Christ.  This was very different from the rigid teachings of his up bringing. One story serves to illustrate the frustrations he put his family through on his journey. He saved up his modest pocket money and bought a Catholic missal, so that he could learn how they worshipped the better to understand their point of view. When it was discovered in his bedroom, it caused a family furore and his father was “very seriously displeased.” Even more so as Henry continued to say that he couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about, wasn’t in the least sorry and had found the missal “interesting.”

His father could feel pride in his clever accomplished son, but there was no true connection between them. Apart from his family, his father’s only interests were banking and gardening and Henry could feel no enthusiasm for either subject.

The other larger shadow that looms over his childhood was the debilitating nature of his Mother’s illness. He was her favoured nurse and companion; a little selfishly it seems to me, as it distressed him to see her suffering. It almost seems that he took on part of the parental role that his father was not able to do. I see shades of Lucilla relationship with James echoed here. His Mother died while he was studying at Oxford. “He often used to say in after years that it was nonsense to speak of youth as the time of happiness. He never knew real happiness until he had left his youth behind him.” (Goudge. 1940 p14.)

“The restrictions of his boyhood and his father’s criticism bred in him shyness and a self-distrust that he never quite lost.” (Goudge 1940 p14} How ripe he must have been then to fall under the spell of Elizabeth’s Mother intelligent, beautiful, a career woman self confident and strong. She loved the out door life and had been allowed an unusual amount of personal freedom by her unconventional Mother. A bitter blow on the surface then when a bicycle accident made an invalid out of her too, although from Elizabeth’s first hand account we know that the marriage was a love affair of great strength and longevity.

The article charts his progress through the church and all the prominent positions he held, with their inherent responsibilities and financial commitments. But the aspect that shines through is the great personal love that he gave to all that the came into contact with. All his former pupils, he taught at many theological colleges, all the sick and lonely parishioners he visited and the great men that he worked for and with all speak of his nature, “to see at a glance the spirit of Christ wherever it was to be found.” (Goudge 1940 p 16) Professor de Burgh said of him; “he was an anima naturaliter Christiana, something that sprang from constant communion with a supernatural spring of joy and hope. and that reflected the light that was its source.”

Such a person must have been demanding as well as wonderful to live with. One of the household servants was once heard to say “It won’t be the Canon’s fault if we aren’t good, I’m sure he tries hard enough to make us what we did ought to be.” (Goudge 1940 p 22) a quote concerning the ritual of daily prayers he led the household in.

But the most exciting comments are the ones which show the likenesses between Elizabeth and her father, he was a role model for her in every sense; she too strived to live the integrated Christian life, but there are other striking parallels throughout ; they both had Mothers who were invalids and dominated their home lives, they were both shy and felt that they lacked the social graces, Elizabeth famously having to come to terms with this aspect when the family lived in Oxford and Mrs Goudge suffered a nervous breakdown, their love of animals, especially dogs, their fondness for country churches and the simple services in them, the theatre, Henry read plays as recreation, and Elizabeth wrote her most famous lead David into the glamour and success of the profession and they both enjoyed correspondence, writing letters to hundreds of people over their lifetimes, neither of them employing a secretary to do so.

There are other deeper similarities too. Henry instilled in Elizabeth the ethic of doing things for the greater good of the family/community and finding a lasting happiness that way. Their views on religion were not narrow and pedantic but sprang from “a deep conviction that Sectarian rigidity and narrowness was contrary to the spirit of Christ’s religion” (Goudge 1940 p 15) He also gave to her, her abiding love of the natural world and the fact that God had put it there for people to enjoy and take spiritual nourishment from. “If you don’t look out of the window at the scenery, it is an insult to God who put it there for your pleasure” (Goudge 1940 p24) he said on one railway journey they took together. He loved birds and would watch eagerly for the first butterflies on the Michaelmas daisies, a trait Elizabeth gave to some of her favourite characters. He enjoyed long country walks and bicycling famously leaving his younger students to breathlessly trail in his wake.

Lastly they both became published authors, although in sheer volume, talent and saleability here Elizabeth eclipsed him. Henry once said that “Difficult writing is good writing” (Goudge 1940 p 27) not something I entirely agree with, as to get a message across, it is necessary to be understood and to carry the reader along with you. But he did also encourage her in her career and give some good advice. “When in later years I became a writer and complained sometimes of the difficulty of making imagination work to order I met with no sympathy. If you can’t work to time and to order you’re no good as a writer” he said. (Goudge 1940 p 27).

In agreeing to write the forward for the Memorial Volume of his book, Elizabeth has unwittingly let us into her life, in a way she does nowhere else but in her auto-biography,  Joy of the Snow, enabling us to garner information about not only her father but about herself.

Deborah Gaudin

Goudge Elizabeth 1940 A Memorial Biography Hodder & Stoughton.


Child From The Sea


Child From The Sea


I find it interesting that all the Celtic fringes acknowledge the likelihood that Lucy Walters and Charles I were married, while the “official” history doesn’t give them any credence what so ever. Who said History is written by the conquerors?

I am certain that it was thoughts such as these that started Elizabeth off on the long, often arduous journey that all authors take when they begin a new work. She wrote some of the book in the beautiful county of Pembrokeshire, in a low, long house over looking the sea at Newport. She found out about the family who had lived in the romantic castle, seen on the skyline of Newgale, by being given a copy of a book by a friend “who was one of the leaders in the fight to defend the beauty of Pembrokeshire from modern development” (Goudge 1970 p259). She insisted that Elizabeth read it and then write a story in keeping with the book, something which Elizabeth was inspired to do after only reading a few chapters.

The story begins at Roche Castle, one of the Pembrokeshire homes of the Walter family. It is the only book that Elizabeth wrote that doesn’t start with a quote or poem to set the scene. It does however describe in vivid detail the setting of Lucy’s childhood, a place that had overwhelmed Elizabeth with its wild beauty. On my visit I saw no sign of the stream running down to the sea, although the old part of the village was still heavily wooded, so I don’t know if a certain liberty has been taken with the site, or whether it has altered greatly in the last 400 years. There is in fact a place called Roch Bridge, which crosses a stream that runs into the bay at Newgale. It is only a few fields away from the castle, and maybe the route that Lucy took to the sea. But the castle, unlike the cover illustration of the book is not on the coast.

The first section entitled The Child, sets out the background that Lucy grew up in and frames the possible meeting places that could have been used the first time that Charles and Lucy met. Most Historians feel it likely that they met at Golden Grove, as Charles I visited the Earl there, and Lucy would have visited often as a near and dear relative.

We live with Lucy in Pembrokeshire, her natural milieu of freedom from convention and the delights of rural life, and share with her the discovery of the Sin Eater and the sadness and mental anguish she shares with Old Parson in his distress. Here she is brought into contact with the precarious state of children born out of wedlock, as her much loved half brother and sister are packed off back to the servant girl’s family on a Welsh hill farm, a lesson which she was to take to heart in later life.” The departure of Dewi and Betsi left a scar on Lucy or some thing more than a scar, for the wound never quite healed. That two good people like her Father and Mother could throw two babies out of their nest as though they were of no more worth than a couple of sparrows shocked her deeply, and frightened her too. For the first time she was aware of sin as something that tangled up all human life, even the life of her father and mother and their children. She was never entirely a child again after Dewi and Betsi went away.” (Goudge 1970 p 113)

But for some reason, Elizabeth decided to make their meeting place in London, possibly because it was an extremely unhappy time for them both; with Lucy’s parents going through an acrimonious divorce and Charles having to witness and be a party to the trials and recriminations that lead up to the Civil War. His Mother, Queen Henrietta Maria had fled to France, close friends and advisors to his family were put on trial, and in some cases executed.
It also enabled Lucy to be acquainted with Old Sage, in one of those synchronicity of plots that Elizabeth so delights in and which occur more frequently in life than we suppose.
So, two lonely frightened children meet who are both finding out that life doesn’t always work out how one would want it to. They share the same group of friends, have similar backgrounds, and both have a charisma and charm that would ignite the other. “Something or someone, some day, would pull her as moon and sun pull the tides and larks and she would go.” (Goudge. 1970 p19)

We must remember that the age of consent for marriage in the 17th century was 14 for boys and 12 for girls. They grew up fast and died young. John Evelyn the diarist calls her “the daughter of some mean creatures”( Lucy Walters, Wife or Mistress 1947 p 27) But Lucy’s father was directly descended from Sir Rhys ap Thomas about whom was said” though never more than a knight, was never less than a prince” in South Wales. He facilitated the march of Henry Tudor to Bosworth Field, and is credited with finding the fallen crown and placing it on the head of Henry Tudor. The three Ravens on his heraldic Arms were held in high esteem and fear in the Tudor court. On her maternal side her mother was related to the Earl of Carberry, the Vaughans of Golden Grove, who owned just about all of Carmarthenshire. The Earl had been the Comptroller of the King’s Household, during Charles I reign, and from her maternal Grandmother Mary Rhys, Lucy was a descendant of Lady Catherine Howard, aunt to both Anne Boleyn and Queen Katherine Howard. So Lucy would have been a good match for any future Monarch. The act of Parliament that forbids Royalty to marry commoners was not past until 1772.

At Golden Grove, she begins to understand the fascination she can have over the opposite sex, as she beguiles the Earl with her good looks and charm. “I think you may have difficulty in the upbringing of that child Elizabeth said Lady Carberry gently. I have seldom seen my husband so infatuated.” (Goudge 1970 p 125).

We follow her on her sad journey to London and to her new home with Mrs Gwinne, her Grandmother, who lives in the “village” of St Giles. Here Lucy is brought onto the stage of National History, meeting people such as the eminent Dr Cosins, Master of Peterhouse and Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge, Tom Howard, whose brother was the Duke of Suffolk, Algernon and Robert Sidney, friendships deepened by family connections that would eventually lead to her meeting Charles.

In some ways this is my favourite part of the book, Elizabeth is able to communicate the atmosphere of 17th century London so well, that not only do we peer up narrow alleys, saunter down wide fashionable streets, and travel the broad sweep of the Thames, we can smell the stinking kennels and open drains, and rejoice in the peace and perfume of Old Sage’s herb stall. Her description of Covent Garden is typical.

“Lucy and Jacob went warily past the open doors lest a bucket full of slops, flung in the direction of the open kennel, should catch them. When they reached the Garden it was full of activity. The flower girls and fruit and vegetable men were at their stalls, spreading out their wares. Nan’s big red hands moved so quickly in posy-making, bunching the flowers together and twisting long grasses round their stalks, that the posies fell from her fingers to her lap almost as though she were shelling pease, but she allowed a few extra seconds to Lucy’s choosing the flowers with care so that Lucy had a variety of pinks, frilled white ones, white ones stitched with scarlet round the edges, pale pink, a couple of sops-in-wine, and one deep red clove carnation in the centre. Lucy leaned forward and kissed Nan’s rough cheek which smelt of carnations. Nan was steeped in her flowers and smelled of them from head to foot, as did Old Sage of his herbs” (Goudge 1970 p170/171) How different from the brightly coloured but scentless blooms we now purchase, wrapped in cellophane from a supermarket bucket.

Elizabeth likes to root her characters to a place, and Old Sage fits his perfectly. Old Sage had his stall as close as possible to St Paul’s church because he kept his main supply of herbs in the church loft.     There were trees at his end of the Garden and it was sheltered from the sun by a great yew tree which must have been growing here in the days of the monks……Old Sage sold herbs of every sort, bunches and packets of dried herbs, fresh bunches of mint, lavender, rosemary and marjoram, and also cloves and peppercorns and oranges stuck with cloves to keep away infection.         when he moved herb dust sprayed from his person like pepper from a pot.” (Goudge 1970 p 171)

Elizabeth’s father’s side of the family had lived in London, and indeed were part of the French immigration of silk weavers that came over to live in London at the time of the French revolution. They probably planted Mulberry trees in their gardens to facilitate their trade, which would have been old and venerable to young Elizabeth’s eyes, she would have noticed the way that towns and cities have their green and pleasant spots. London although bigger and brasher in Edwardian times, wouldn’t have been that different from the London of 200 years earlier. It’s changed rapidly of cause in the last 50/60 years.

She also manages to bring personal remembrances into the story, memories of her Father’s study for example are used to describe Mr Gwinne’s, Lucy’s Grandfather. “Lucy knocked on the library door and receiving no answer lifted the latch and walked in. Mr Gwinne’s library resembled a clearing in a forest, but the open space was by no means uncluttered, having a minor undergrowth of books piled on the floor, like stumps of felled trees. Around the clearing great bookcases loomed from floor to ceiling, dark but yet alive with a glint of gold or crimson here and there, as though light shone faintly through massed leaves, and ominous with a motionless power.” (Goudge 1970 p 151)

“the narrow doorway of the study and on entering found a wall to the right and on the left the ominous darkness of that invaluable bookcase, Somewhere round on the other side of it was my father at work, but it was very dark between that wall and the bookcase.” (Goudge 1974 p103),being a description of her father’s study at Ely.

The plot flows on, in and out of sadness enriched with flashes of joy, as Lucy and her brothers come to terms with their parents divorce, the deaths of Besti, and her beloved Nan-Nan, the loneliness of William, showing her the separateness of the human condition, and the history of Old Sage, which will prove a vital link in the narrative of the story later on, pulling us right up to the execution of the Earl of Strafford. Lucy sees Charles met the Mayor of London and finds a chance to throw him her present of the dark webbed purse she had made him. It would be the last time they met for years.

The middle section is entitled The Idyll, and as such is the shortest part of the book, as it was the shortest of Lucy’s life. It opens in Devon where Lucy is living with her father’s parents, and Dewi. Roch Castle has been almost destroyed and Algernon Sidney has been badly wounded in the fighting. The Civil War is raging, and she is safe at the moment deep in Royalist held Devon. After a further meeting with the Prince cements her feelings even further than the childish passion she had started with, Lucy travels with her father and Dewi back to Pembrokeshire, to make a home for them in the shadow of their broken castle. It’s as good a place as any to wait out the war.

The meeting and marriage of Charles and Lucy is part of Welsh myth, which is why Elizabeth allows them to meet at the romantic and symbolic place of St David’s cathedral. In reality it is unlikely that he would have had the time or opportunity in the midst of civil war, to go to the west of Wales for four days.
It is a clever devise to have them unwittingly married by a de-frocked or at least un-ordained priest, because of cause; no one has been able to produce a marriage certificate. There were however persistent rumours that they had married before the Prince went to France. Sir Edward Hyde writes in the march of 1646/7 ” I am far from being secure, for many reasons, that the intelligence from London of the Prince’s marriage may not be true; we were apprehensive of it before he went, and spoke freely to him our opinions of the fatal consequences of it.” (Hyde, 1646/7 p 346)

What ever the historical niceties, the second part ends with Charles re-joining the war, and Lucy doomed to wait it out in Pembrokeshire. Elizabeth must have known many young women who sent their men off to war, wondering if they would ever met again, hoping that there would/wouldn’t be a child to comfort them, or concerned with bringing one up alone.

The third and longest part of the story is The Woman, and chronicles Lucy’s travels around Europe and her fight to be accepted as Wife of the Prince and Mother of his child, the future Duke of Monmouth. Part of the problem was that the Royal family had no personal income at all and were reliant on the generosity of other Royals, who after the glamour of the situation had wore off, and Cromwell had won the Civil war with the hearts and minds of the British behind him, found other things they would rather spend their money on. So, the enlarging of the household was most unwelcome. Charles’s mother was extremely angry and begged him not to tell people, as she still hoped for a moneyed match to be made, helping them out of their poverty. I suspect that she hoped Lucy would fall victim to any number of fatal diseases prevalent at that time, thereby freeing Charles from his youthful mistake.
There is evidence to suggest that the Marriage Certificate was stolen from her, during the debacle of her misguided and ultimately self-destructive journey to England with her young son.

This part of the book has been the subject of much conjecture and discussion. Why did Lucy decide to travel to England, taking Jackie with her? She must have realised how dangerous it was and the advantage to the Commonwealth if she was captured. Surely she was frightened about the safety of her son, as a future King of England. The reason given in the book is the bequest left to Lucy by her Mother. “Our Mother left some money for you too. There is still some legal business to be done and it would be a help to Richard and to me if you would come back to England with us and stay for a while. You know what London is like in the spring and summer; a jewel girdled by the little villages among their meadows and flowers. Will you come? You and the children and Anne.”(Goudge 1974 p 663). Justus implores her to return to England with him, and finally she accepts. But I don’t understand why she took the children with her, unless she thought that on her return to the Continent they would have been taken away from her, Charles had tried to kidnap “Jackie” before.

But really I think that Lucy privately gave to much credence to her brother Richards’s position in Cromwell’s staff and Government. She was used to her family being in a position to ensure her safety. She also trusted Tom Howard as an old friend and distant relation, not knowing that he was a double agent, and would be only to happy to hand such a prize over to Cromwell to smooth his own path.

The fact that Cromwell didn’t try and execute them speaks of the sensitive nature of the situation. Killing the Grand father was one thing, but to murder a royal child and his Mother, no such thing had been done since the bad old days of Richard III and the Princes in the Tower.

The relationship between Lucy and her personal maid Anne Hill has caused considerable debate among Goudge readers as it appears to be one of almost Saintly Scapegoat and Judas kiss complexity.

Elizabeth had a deep reverence for the relationship between servant and Master, or as is more politically correct today, Employer and Employee. It was something she had seen and experienced all her life. To our modern comprehension it seems as out dated as clubbing your woman over the head and dragging her cave-wards, but to Elizabeth it was one of equality through the act of service and acceptance. It is the Path for all those of Christian faith to try and live by the example of Christ, and Lucy realised that Anne was truly repentant of her former disloyalty. She would have wanted to believe so, as whom else did she have to turn to at this, the lowest point of her life. Anne had become the stable pivot of her and more importantly of her children in an increasingly chaotic life.   click here for the record of the interrogation of Anne Hill

I find the weakness and politically motivated cruelty and neglect with which Charles treated Lucy, hard to understand. I suppose that the desire to be accepted by his peers, his family and his subjects after decades of war, flight and fight was too beguiling. as well as the old adage about Power and corruption. How convenient poor Lucy died before he became King, thereby side stepping the issue completely.

I will finish the article with a quote from the diary of Samuel Peyps, the famous Restoration Diarist, and two from Historical websites, one chronicling the History of Scotland the other from a west country town.

At that time the restoration of the monarchy looked unlikely, and the Stewarts were not the most eligible of bachelors. Charles’ brother James (later James VII) married a commoner, Anne Hyde and Charles II married Lucy Walter, while Louis XIV of France married Françoise d’Aubign, after the death of his first wife. Charles’ mother, Queen Henrietta Marie, was furious when she heard of the marriage and threatened to have her brother, the King of France, cut off Charles’ pension if he did not repudiate Lucy Walters and her child. Charles accepted and went on to marry the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza in 1662, four years after the death of Lucy Walters. Charles died in 1685 without any acknowledged legitimate children and was succeeded by his brother, James II.

‘What is whispered about is that young Crofts is lawful son of the King, the King being married to his mother. How true it is, God knows.’
Samuel Pepys Diary, October 1662.

Taken from the Scottish Politics web site by Alba Publishing, Scotland.

Monmouth was the illegitimate son of King Charles II, born to Lucy Walters in 1649 during Charles II’s exile at The Hague. Monmouth was much loved and favoured by his father and despite his illegitimate status was given a place of great authority within English society. In 1674 Monmouth was made ‘Commander in Chief’ of the army; gaining great respect as a soldier among the English people.


Charles II

Shaftesbury urged King Charles II to recognise his son by the legitimisation of his marriage to Lucy Walters. Charles refused declaring he had only ever been married to the Queen. Monmouth later confessed that his father had told him in private that he would have no legal right to the throne. Rumours abounded about a black box being discovered in which the marriage papers of Charles and Lucy Walters were hidden but these were never produced as evidence.
Deborah Gaudin

Goudge.E. 1970. Child From the Sea Hodder & Stoughton
Scott.G Lord 1947 Lucy Walters: Wife or Mistress. Harrap & Co Ltd
Lamford T. G. 2001 The Defence of Lucy Walter The Better Book Company.
Samuel P 1662 The Dairies of Samuel Pepys
Rev C. P. Brown Minehead On Line
Goudge E. 1974 Joy Of The Snow Hodder & Stoughton