Day 7 – The Malvern Hills

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The Malvern Hills are said to be the oldest rocks in England, rising as they do from the Severn Plain on the east and sloping down into rolling Herefordshire countryside on the west. The Victorians did their best to quarry them away, but fortunately the Malvern Hills Conservators was formed in time to save them, and now they are fiercely guarded from the assaults of modern times. I lived on the slopes of the hills for seven years, and now I live within sight of them down on the plain. Some people say that it was on these hills that Tolkien based his Misty Mountains – I like to think so.

A metaphorical stone’s throw from the Hills is the lovely Madresfield Court, ancestral home of the Lygon family. There has been a house on the site since the twelfth century, and it has never been bought or sold throughout its long history! The Court has some amazing Arts and Crafts work, including a library by Clive Ashbee and a beautiful chapel decorated by members of the Birmingham Group, including Henry Payne.  Madresfield  is still a family home and is currently lived in by Lady Morrison, niece of the last earl. Tours are available by appointment, but not this year because they are renovating.

Madresfield Court is thought to be the house on which Evelyn Waugh based ‘Brideshead Revisited’, since Waugh was a frequent visitor. I read the book in my teens, reading avidly between the lines to try and decide what the relationship between Charles and Sebastian was.  Anthony Blanche didn’t really appeal to me – too camp. I remember that my interest waned greatly in part two when Charles falls for Julia.  Looking back, it was really more fun in some ways than today’s explicit novels, where you don’t have to guess at anything. I watched the ITV serialisation of the book when it became available on video much later, and found it rather disappointing. One of these days I shall watch the film!

K.C. Warwick

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6 responses »

  1. I so agree about Brideshead tailing off halfway (and wonder how many autobiographical elements there were in the book).

    Great post. (But all these pics are making me want to visit, right now!)

    • I think there was a lot of Waugh in the book. I read up about him when I was younger and he seemed to have a very strange life, even allowing for the times he lived in.

  2. Don’t get me started on Brideshead – two young friends, one tortured by the knowledge that he lusts after his friend but that’s unacceptable, so he engages in self-destructive behaviour. The other, attracted but ‘not in that way’, comfortable in his skin and naively unaware of the agonies his friend is going through.The story plays out the way it has to, really – the straight friend gets a girlfriend, the gay friend is driven to further extremes until the worst happens.

    Brideshead is one of those stories which make gay people cry out in frustration – why can’t we have a mainstream book or film with a gay leading character for whom it all turns out well?!

    Now see what you’ve done – got me started on Brideshead…

    • Yes, I think ‘frustrating’ just about sums it up! In those days, I don’t think you could have a gay leading character who was at all admirable. Pity, because it could have been a really good story…

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