Archive for August 2, 2016

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