Voices from the Ether

A chance to hear Elizabeth speak about her home in Hampshire

I have recently discovered your Elizabeth Goudge website and thought I ought to add my ‘pen’orth’.

I first met Elizabeth and Jessie in 1957 when Elizabeth Goudge invited me to Rose Cottage. I had come across her books as a teenager and admired the intricate webs she wove, all loose ends so propitiously tied up at the end, and the strong Christian moral basis albeit somewhat mystical to most of her fiction and non-fiction.

I got to know her as an impecunious student in London who applied to the World University Service for a tide over grant, and when trying to repay what I thought was a loan they told me that the donor did not wish to be repaid. I nagged them till they revealed the donor’s name, and yes you guessed it

I wrote to thank her, and there followed many years of friendship, many visits to Rose Cottage, later with my wife Sally and four boys. She and Jessie gave us much support when our second son Richard contracted Leukaemia and died aged 8 in 1976, we have never forgotten their concern. She put us in touch with Sister Mary Agnes of the Poor Clare’s Order, who became our spiritual mentor. Jessie insisted we use her cottage ‘Bryn Alban’ in Pembrokeshire several times as it “would do Richard good”. So, you see, Elizabeth Goudge was not just a unique literary figure (a genius I would say) but a deeply caring and practical friend.

She told my boys stories of her years in Oxford to prepare our eldest son David just before he went up to Lincoln College.  She showed us her treasured ‘little things’ in the display case which featured in one of her books, I can’t recall which one.  We were treated to exquisite teas at Rose Cottage, the damson cheese being a speciality, and sat on the sofa stroking Tikki or Froda (I am a bit hazy about the dogs now). The well in her garden and the many herbs grown by Jessie were a source of more stories (The White Witch?), I just wish I could remember them. We visited when she was bed bound and still found her cheerful and welcoming and full of faith. I have a recording of Elizabeth Goudge and Jessie being interviewed for a BBC programme, and somewhere I am sure we have some photos, I must dig them out. I also have many of her autographed books and a splendid photo of Elizabeth Goudge in pride-of-place on our bookshelf. It has been a privilege having the friendship of these two lovely women

My granddaughters are avidly borrowing her books and boasting in school that their family were friends with the author, their favourites – Henrietta’s House and the Little White Horse.

Peter.

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