The Enchanted Kingdom

Hello Deborah,

I want to thank you for doing this website and having an Elizabeth Goudge Society [how does one join?]. At this time of year, coming up to Christmas, I often re-read either The Herb of Grace or The Dean’s Watch or one of her children’s books for the amazing descriptions of wonderful Christmases in England.

I started reading her books when I was about ten years old, living in New Jersey and getting them from the library and they became the enchanted kingdom I disappeared into when my own life was too difficult [my mother was ill and alcoholic and times could be rough]. I read the adult books because the library didn’t have any of her children’s books.

Many years later, an animal lover and intrepid about wild animals, I took a break from being a research librarian and went to work with seals and sea lions in a free-release setting in Key West Florida. Here I won the trust of an abused sea lion by singing to her because I remembered this being described in The Child From the Sea. And it worked — this 300 pound beast crawled into my lap. The only problem was that every time I stopped singing she growled at me. I must have sung every show tune I knew for hours.

Elizabeth Goudge’s books, along with the Mary Poppins books, Wind in the Willows and everything by Rumer Godden, were all instrumental in my decision to up sticks from the USA and move to England. I lived in Devon for 20 years [1986 to 2006] in a thatched cottage and made a lovely garden. Here too I found ultimately almost all of EG’s books in wonderful second-hand bookshops [mostly in Ashburton] and off Amazon. And I found Providence Cottage in Marldon, still called that, and whoever they were they had corgis, which I think Elizabeth might have enjoyed.

Of course I spent time in the New Forest and Buckler’s Hard and imagined that a small lane south of the Hard going down to the River Beaulieu would lead to the Herb of Grace. [That’s still my favourite book of all.] I also visited Ely [but I think that the cathedral she describes in The Dean’s Watch seems to be the cathedral in Lincoln] and Wells [where I had my first collision with nettles – ouch! — while I was standing on a fallen log to peer over the high stone wall at the back of the choir master’s house, which I thought must be the place were she was born].

And like Elizabeth I started having spiritual and ghostly experiences in England, which had never happened to me in the United States. All positive I’m glad to say, or at least not fearful. I always had an open mind in that regard, and rather hoped such things existed, but never expected to experience them. It is most amazing and lovely and helps me to live more fully and trustingly.

I’m happy to say that I was pretty much born an Anglophile, and living in England suited me entirely, even though for various reasons I retired to France in 2006, where I have again made a garden and continue read Elizabeth Goudge.

Thanks again for the lovely website, I am going to enjoy reading the various postings on Goudge Talk [and you are welcome to post this if you would like to].

Now that I’ve been thinking about it, there are so many areas of my real life that have been influenced by Elizabeth Goudge.  Reading the Scent of Water [and later the Joy of the Snow] I grew to want my own four-poster bed [and found out that she never did have one, but gave it instead to Mary in Scent of Water] and a green carpet with roses and ribbons.  Here’s a picture of my bedroom in my thatched cottage, with four-poster [only a flat-pack pine, but an artist friend painted it for me] and you can see a bit of the carpet too].
Four poster bed
The scene on the end of the bed shows my unicorn [I’ve always had a unicorn] and, in one of those strange things that keep happening to me, it prophesied the area I would later move to in France — not too far from where I live are the wonderful ruins of Crozant Castle built on a rocky promontory where the river curves and it looks very much like the imaginary scene on my bed. I have two prophetic paintings — the other was made for me by a friend in NYC many years ago that was supposed to be of my Manhattan street and the brownstone I lived in, but as he said “the sea and the fields kept bursting in and I couldn’t stop them”  and indeed between the NY brownstones you can see the sea, and pouring out between them is a patchwork of fields.  I should say I had no notion then of ever moving to England, and in fact, didn’t really know Devon existed [I’d read EG’s books set there, but the county didn’t really register in my mind].  But ten years later when I moved to Devon, England, I found exactly those fields, the red earth of that red sandstone area of Devon and the patchwork of  colours of the different crops.
warm regards Nancy Wolff

Hidden People

Dear Mrs Gaudin,
I have been viewing your website about Elizabeth Goudge recently as I have discovered my father, who died in May this year, was a secret fan of her stories.
My father was a Guernsey man who at the age of 11 was evacuated from the island in the second world war.  On his return nearly 6 years later he discovered his talent for art and soon found himself at the Royal Academy in London on a 5 year course.   He continued painting for 60 years up to the year 2004,
On viewing his paintings, particularly the ones he did in the 1990’s, I found he had hidden stories and portraits in his work.  In one painting there is a story with a king and a lady in it along with images of a child. For some reason Elizabeth Goudge and her book “a child from the sea” came to mind.  My father had mentioned an author who came to Guernsey as a child and he did mention that he hid a lady in his painting but after 20 years I had forgotten until I started studying his work.   I now believe that he also hid the story of the “White Witch” in it too as there is also a very pale hidden lady in it.
Here is a link to the painting: kwhillpaintings/paintings/mystery-paintings-2    The photograph is of greatly reduced quality because I am cautious about putting things on the Web, but I can supply a much better quality one if required.   The painting is the second one down and the images are not easy to see, particularly because of the reduced quality, but if someone was prepared to spend a few minutes looking then more and more begging to be seen.
There may be other stories by Elizabeth Goudge in other paintings but I have not studied many yet.
I hope you find the painting interesting.
Yours sincerely
Christopher Hill
(son of ken Hill)

Beautiful Truth

I am an ardent fan of the writings of Miss Goudge and owe her much in the way of the joy it has given me to read her books. I have collected many (though not all) of her books, and I have read them over and over since I was a young girl in the 60’s . I am English by ancestry, and I love the way Miss Goudge describes the England of long ago. Unfortunately a short trip to London in ’88 did not allow me to explore those places in her books to see if they were how I pictured them. One of these days I want to travel to Pembrokeshire to see Roch Castle, and St. David’s in Wales.
My favourite book is Child from the Sea, and I would like to believe that Lucy was not the amoral creature her attackers have portrayed in other publications. I find it very interesting that Diana, Princess of Wales, has a connection to Lucy through common ancestors. Maybe royal people named Charles just can’t be trusted! The very first time I was reading Child from the Sea, I was with a boyfriend who I just discovered was unfaithful, and I was reading the part where Lucy “realized that Charles had been unfaithful to her, and that Anne was cruel to tell her so” and I cried more for Lucy’s hurt than for mine. Every time I read that book I hope things will turn out differently (I know, of course it doesn’t)
Another favourite book I love is the Scent of Water, which was the first book Goudge book I read, and it has always remained so magical for me. I , too, have a collection of “little (precious) things” largely due to the idea in the book of having beautiful tiny precious objects. I will be leaving them to nieces someday.
It has disturbed me to read criticisms of Elizabeth Goudge’s work. I think she was a wonderful writer, and she had a way of making the surroundings and events in her stories so real that they became real in my mind, and also she was dead-on in her descriptions of human issues and feelings, which, of course, are not bound to the confines of a book. Her books had beautiful truth in them, which is why I read them over and over.
I also love The White Witch, for a different view of the Civil War. I am so glad Miss Goudge lived at Froniga’s house. I would love to visit it someday, and see if the village and surroundings have any of the same feel today as in the story. The Dean’s Watch, City of Bells, Green Dolphin Street, and Pilgrim’s Inn are also wonderful stories. Thank goodness there are people born to be writers like Elizabeth Goudge. I am sad she is gone and hope that her books continue to be read and appreciated.
Mary Caddell

 

A Friend for Life

Hello

I am Véronique. In my teen years, I read as many books I could from Elizabeth Goudge. I don’t know why for me,  and I learnt after, so many French people,  her books were so magic. Some twenty years ago, I went to the Buckler’s hard to find some memories of “The Herb of Grace”. I was not disappointed. Two years ago, I went back, now it is a little bit too touristic, but at least preserved.

Today I just came back from Ely and from Peppard common, and I was feeling very sad, that people in the cathedral or nearby her home, don’t seem to know her any more. So thank you for this web site, thank you for her and all her readers.

Véronique Mathot

Mrs Adams at Damerosehay

Ms. Gaudin,
My name is Tom Hughes and I am an American author working on a book about a woman named “the Honorable Mrs. Adams” (1847-1929). She was born Mildred Coleridge into a prominent family but – owing to disagreements over her choice of a husband – she was estranged from them permanently. Her husband, a journalist named Charles Warren Adams – acquired Harewood House in Keyhaven in 1896. He died in 1903. Mrs. Adams remained there until her death, apparently – at least part of the time – running the place as a private hotel.
I have read on your website that Elizabeth Goudge spent some time there but I am unclear as to the dates.
A gentleman in Lymington tells me that Mrs. Adams left the place in her will to a Heartsease Eva Adams who continued to operate is a private hotel.
Do you know if Elizabeth Goudge stayed at Harewood pre-1929?  If so, I would be keen to learn of any mentions of the “Honorable Mrs Adams” in her writings. Her appearance, her personality, her interests (cats, I believe), and the layout of the house (which has since been torn down).
I have thus far been unable to trace the relationship between Mrs. Adams and Heartsease Adams.
Be assured that any assistance will be appreciated and attributed in publication.
Thank you very much  indeed and continued success with the Society.
Tom Hughes

 

Yes Elizabeth stayed at Harewood House and mentions Mrs Adams by name in her auto-biography Joy of the Snow. The Eliots of Damerosehay inhabit Harewood and Mrs Adams love of cats morphed into their love of dogs. Elizabeth kept dogs too.

Good luck with the research and the book.

regards Deborah Gaudin

 

Seeking Lucy

Dear Deborah
I have just been researching Elizabeth today (after receiving our 2nd hand copy of The Child from The Sea that our son posted to us in Australia from UK on our request).
We also received the book that Elizabeth used for historical research from Lord George Scott – descendent of Lucy – Lucy Walters Wife or Mistress.
It has been a long path that started some years ago when I took my father’s ashes to rest with his mother’s (she had died shortly after he was born and he was extremely close to her all his life). I did some research when I was in the town library which uncovered the house name of my grandmother’s (Lucy Waters) house when my father arrived. This then led me back to Roch Castle and slowly more and more of this incredible history.

I did travel to England last year and travelled in Wales and it was very emotional as I traced my grandmother’s life and yet I didn’t get back far in records to see whether we are related to Lucy of old. However, I have felt very strongly drawn to continue discovering as much as I can – and have read a good deal online about these histories (that could be my family history). Then today I started reading Elizabeth’s very spiritually focused ‘romantic novel’ – I just started somewhere in its middle to get a taste – after reading a larger portion of about 4 chapters of Lord Scott’s book, and I was immediately captured by how deeply Elizabeth had tapped in to Lucy’s spirit to document this account.
The little I know about Elizabeth this far (from researching a bit today) has shown me that she has likely been able to intuit Lucy’s story and thus continue in the intention of Lord Scott’s to redeem her maligned character and thus bring light and comfort to this family – and Lucy herself.
I’m very deeply grateful to her for this and only wish I had known what I know now – back in the seventies and early eighties when Elizabeth was still with us in person.
When I have read the books through I will write again
Fiona McAllan

The Historical Document of the Interrogation of Anne Hill

The Historical Document of the Interrogation of Anne Hill

The further information of Anne Hill, late servant to the lady Lucy Walter, otherwise Barlow, taken upon oath the 2d day of July, 1656.

Vol. xl. p. 37.

Middlesex.

Who saith, that in August last she came first into the service of the said lady Lucy Walter, and went over with one of her children into Holland to the Hague, where the lady then lived; and saith, that Mr. Thomas Howard, gentleman of the horse to the princess royal, did much frequent her company there; and saith she continued there seven months, and then came over into England. And saith, that this informant never heard, that the said lady had any husband in Holland, or any other place, but that those children she had were begotten by Charles Stewart; and saith that Justus Walter, her said lady’s brother, told her this informant, that the said lady, together with the said Thomas Howard, went from the Hague to Flanders, and then immediately they came from thence to Flushing, and so for England, as she hath heard them say. And this informant further saith, that the said lady told her this informant, that the very same night, in which she came to Antwerp or Brussells, Charles Stewart came thither; whereupon this informant asked her in these words, Did your honour see him? to which she answered, Yes, and he saw your master too (meaning one of her children, which is usually called master.) And this informant saith, she knows not who came with the said lady into England, besides Thomas Howard and Justus Walter aforesaid, neither any thing further of their actings beyond seas; and saith, she heard the said lady and her said brother confer together about a necklace of pearl, which the said lady intimated to him she had bought; and that they discoursed it must cost about 1500 l. And the informant saith, she heard the said lady say, she had bespoke a coach, and that she would have it lined with red velvet, and have gold fringe on it within three weeks; and said, although they lived but closely in their lodgings, yet very plentifully in clothes and dyet, and had a coach to attend them continually from week to week. And this informant saith, while she lived with the said lady, she this informant was kept up so privately, that she had not scarce liberty to come down for a cup of beer, which she really believes was, that this informant might not have opportunity to discover them. And saith, the said lady gave her a charge, not to tell who she was, but to say she was a Dutch captain’s wise, whose husband is dead; which she this informant observeth.

The mark of Ann [] Hill.

 

From: ‘State Papers, 1656: July (1 of 6)’, A collection of the State Papers of John Thurloe, volume 5: May 1656 – January 1657 (1742), pp. 173-86. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=55532. Date accessed: 02 October 2007.

Personal Memories

Personal Memories

I am an ardent fan of the writings of Miss Goudge and owe her much in the way of the joy it has given me to read her books.  I have collected many (though not all)  of her books, and I have read them over and over since I was a young girl in the 60’s I am English by ancestry, and I love the way Miss Goudge describes the England of long ago.

Unfortunately a short trip to London in ’88 did not allow me to explore those places in her books  to see if they were how I pictured them.  One of these days I want to travel to Pembrokeshire to see Roch Castle, and St. David’s in Wales. My favourite book is Child from the Sea, and I would like to believe that Lucy was not the amoral creature her attackers have portrayed in other publications. I find it very interesting that Diana, Princess of Wales, has a connection to Lucy through common ancestors.  Maybe royal people named Charles just can’t be trusted! The very first time I was reading Child from the Sea, I was with a boyfriend who I just discovered was unfaithful, and I was reading the part where Lucy  “realized that Charles had been unfaithful to her, and that Anne was cruel to tell her so”  and I cried more for Lucy’s hurt than for mine. Every time I read that book I hope things will turn out differently (I know, of course it doesn’t)

Another favourite book I love is the Scent of Water, which was the first book Goudge book I read, and it has always remained so magical for me. I ,too,  have a collection of “little (precious) things”  largely due to the idea in the book of having beautiful tiny precious objects.  I will be leaving them to nieces someday. t has disturbed me to read criticisms of Elizabeth Goudge’s work.  I think she was a wonderful writer, and  she had a way of making the surroundings and events in her stories so real that they became real in my mind, and also she was dead-on in her descriptions of  human issues and feelings, which, of course, are not  bound to the confines of a book.

Her books had beautiful truth in them, which is why I read them over and over. I also love The White Witch, for a different view of the Civil War. I am so glad Miss Goudge lived at Froniga’s house. I would love to visit it someday, and see if the village and surroundings have any of the same feel today as in the story.  The Dean’s Watch, City of Bells, Green Dolphin Street, and Pilgrim’s Inn are also wonderful stories. Thank goodness there are people born to be writers like Elizabeth Goudge. I am sad she is gone and hope that her books continue to be read and appreciated.

Mary Caddell

Diary of Prayer

From Tangled Thoughts to Tranquillity

Twisted Boughs

One of my constant companions, a book that I dip into almost daily, is Elizabeth Goudge’s Diary of Prayer. Published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1966 it is set out in diary form with a prayer or two for each day of the year. The prayers are taken from different faiths and pertain roughly to the Church’s calendar, although as Christmas is the only static festival of the Christian year they do not always correspond to the relevant date, this does not detract from the anthology in any way.

People sent Elizabeth prayers and poems knowing that they would always delight her. One person, a lady called Adelaide Makower, sent her all the Jewish prayers that she uses and Elizabeth also credits her with sending or finding others for her too. The whole anthology took many years to put together, and there is no doubt that Elizabeth used them on a daily basis herself. They were not collected with the intention of being put together as a book at first, but to help Elizabeth learn to pray in an organised and methodical manner. One of the Jewish prayers that speaks to me in particular is the entry for September 3rd which starts “Though our mouths were full of song as the sea, our tongues of exultation as the fullness of its waves,”

Each “chapter” or month starts with a verse that sets the tone. For example, April’s begins with a poem by the Welsh writer David of Gwylym. In it the poet is describing the dawn chorus in a cwm in Wales and attributing clerical roles for all the birds he can hear. “The Chief Priest was the nightingale: the lark and thrush assisted him: and some small bird (I do not weet his name) acted as Clerk.” Both Elizabeth and her Father were enthusiastic Ornithologists so the poem appeals directly to her as it is full of detail about birds, their calls and habits.

April is also the month most likely to contain the celebration of Easter, so the poem is echoing the most important Mass of the Christian Year. In fact the year the Diary was put together, Easter fell on April 1st.

The depth of Elizabeth’s reading is obvious throughout the work; she doesn’t use the trite or overworked. David of Gwylym was a 14th century medieval poet little known outside of Wales. Maybe she discovered him through Jessie who had extensive Welsh connections. She transposed this love for obscure writers to Hilary in the Eliots; he you will remember was always being accused of quoting from them at the slightest provocation.

There are sections for various afflictions and all conditions of humanity, as in June’s section for the poor, and homeless, the refugees, the lonely and the unemployed. Refugees from the Second World War were a common sight in the London of the 40’s and 50’s and later on in that decade the migration of thousands of Commonwealth immigrants occurred. June’s entries portray the range of faiths that Elizabeth used to touch the heart of the matter; from Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali No X

“Here is Thy footstool and there rest Thy feet where live the poorest, the lowliest, and the lost.”

to Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury’s

“O God, the Father of the forsaken, the Help of the weak, the Supplier of the needy, who teachest us that love towards the race of man is the bond of perfection….”

Elizabeth had a vast compassion for the dispossessed, born perhaps out of her deep love and connection to place. Maybe it was akin to her secret fear of the shapeless darkness that waited for her in her depression, that fear of becoming nothing. She kept the extent of her charity private, but it was large, personal and at times took intensely practical forms, such as continuing to pay past employees when they retired.

Elizabeth quotes extensively in all her works, which adds another dimension to her writing. I’m always being sent off on literary adventures, discovering writers and poets that have helped to enrich my life. One of my favourite finds from this book was”The Prayers from the Ark “by Carmen Bernos De Gasztold, a poet and Benedictine nun who lived at the Abbaye Saint Louis de Temple at Limon-par-Igny, France. Most of the prayers/poems had been written during the war when she was forced to do uncongenial work in the laboratory of a silk factory near Paris. This took place under the Nazi occupation, when life was hard, cruel and she was often cold and hungry. She takes the animals and our attitude towards them and turns it around so that we can learn from them the virtues of their strengths of patience, hard work, and the putting to use of talents and abilities to the greater good.

The Bee

Lord,
I am not one to despise your gifts,
May you be blessed
who spread the riches of your sweetness
for my zeal………..
let my small span of ardent life
melt into our great communal task;
to lift up to your glory
this temple of sweetness,
a citadel of incense,
a holy candle myriad-celled,
moulded to your graces
and of the hidden work.

The book is dedicated to Sonia Harwood, and her son Andrew Harwood explained the reasons behind this.

“My mother so liked Elizabeth’s book “The White Witch” that, in January 1960, she wrote congratulating her and enquiring about the location of the cottage featured therein. Elizabeth replied on January 28th stating that she actually lived in the cottage! From this small beginning a regular swapping of correspondence was started, and eventually the shy Elizabeth said she would like them to talk on the phone and so they did in 1965. Finally Elizabeth decided she wanted to meet my mother in person and so in 1967 she travelled up to Rose Cottage. Their friendship flourished and they would meet in the spring and autumn of each year.

 

In one of her letters Elizabeth said she wanted to dedicate a book to my mother and offered her a choice of two – “Linnets and Valerians” or “An Anthology of Prayer”- she chose what turned out to be called “A Diary of Prayer”. But when the “Linnets and Valerians” was published Elizabeth sent my mother a copy inscribed as follows -“Dear Sonia, This is the book that would have been dedicated to you had you not preferred to wait for the prayer anthology, and so its half yours. Love and best wishes from Elizabeth Goudge”

Elizabeth strikes me as being the sort of person who needed to make the best of each moment of her day, especially in the important task of prayer. Setting out the prayers in a structured manner, gave her a focus and helped to resolve her tangled thoughts into tranquillity. Whatever the reason for the book’s conception, this collection was undoubtedly put together by someone who loved poetry and the way that words can be made to sing on the page.

IMG_0804

Deborah Gaudin

With thanks to Andrew Harwood.

Goudge Elizabeth 1966 Dairy of Prayer Hodder & Stoughton
Carmen Bernos De Gasztold 1963 The Prayers from the Ark MacMillan & Co

 

Dream Team

Dream Team
A Japanese perspective on a Elizabeth Goudge classic

I’d like to make a comment regarding the article “Dream Team” for a remake of Little White Horse.  What I would like to see is an animated version.  Not Disney, or any of the other American animators, but the best of the Japanese studios Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli.

One only has to look at his work on Howl’s Moving Castle or Spirited Away to see that he is at home in the world of fantasy and magic. The artwork of his films is always superb, and would be able to do justice to the descriptions penned by Elizabeth Goudge.  He would be able to handle the characters of Maria and Robin without making them too saccharin (unlike Disney) and would be highly unlikely to turn Robin into a bandit.

Wiggins would probably end up being a bit of a comedic character, but then he is in the book anyways. The Little White Horse is probably the only Goudge book that would be suitable as an animation. The live action versions that have been produced so far have been horrible, so why not try something different?

Fiona Williams