Monday, 16 June 2008

Always Allways?



I've just finished re-reading Beverley Nichols' A Village in a Valley.


Towards the end of the book Miss Hazlitt, one of the spinsters in the village of Allways passes away.

No doubt pondering his own mortality following this event, the author spends the last section of the book imagining a spectral visit to his Allways cottage many years in the future.

In his mind's eye the cottage has been neglected to the point that the roof has fallen in and ivy is growing inside the walls. It struck me that it would be interesting to learn what has actually become of the cottage.

All I know is that the fictional village was actually Glatton in Cambridgeshire.

This made me think of another of his books that I own. Inside which I found an old yellowing newspaper clipping, with a grainy black and white photo, underneath which was printed

"This quaint old entrance belongs to Beverley Nichols' cottage".

I love finding things like that in old books, don't you?

But what of the cottage?
.

3 comments:

Infoman said...

The Nichols cottage Allways in Glatton in still there. Although Nichols sold the cottage in 1937, it has been own by a succession of people. I visited Glatton in 1995 and saw the cottage for myself. While it is a private residence and is not open to the public, I did talk briefly with the owner that time, who said that many people would often show up on her door step, although they were always Americans! I don't know if the woman is still the owner now (I read of her still being there in 2001). You can see the cottage on Google Maps. Go to Glatton England, zoom in to the highest level on the satellite view, look for the corner
of High Haden Road and Glattons Ways (B660). Moving northeast on Glatton Ways, you first see some modern houses some distance from the road (on the south side). Then then next structure on the south side is an oblong house right up against the road, with big trees and a curved path in back. That is the cottage. Sadly, all the homes Nichols wrote about in his garden books (Allways in Glatton, One Ellerdale Road in Hampstead/London,
Merry Hall in Ashtead, and Sudbrook Cottage in Ham/Richmond) have all been privately owned after Nichols lived in them, so none are open to the public and none of his gardens have been kept up. Unfortunately, his is still not well thought of in England, whereas in the US he is still quite popular. Timber Press has brought back into print 10 of his gardening books (in which I have been privileged to have a hand), which continue to sell well and keep his name in the public. If you are interested in his life, there is a biography (sadly out of print at the moment but fairly easily found used on Amazon or other sites): "Beverley Nichols: A Life" by Bryan Connon.

The Garden Monkey said...

What a great comment Infoman - thanks so much.

There are a few of us in the UK that rate him - aren't there chaps?

I keep meaning to get Bryan Cannon's book BTW.

mmm said...

Wonderful directions! There is now a very clear photo of the house, or photos -- one can 'travel' along Glattons Ways and get a good look at some of the trees. The big flowering tree on the right (e.) side of the cottage looks like it could be one planted by BN. And having found Allways on the Google Map, I found a (much fuzzier) view from above on Google Earth. The co-ordinates are something around 52 27'38.79" N 0 18'05.35"W but I found it easier to "fly to" Glatton Ways, Glatton, UK, and take the same route from the intersection in the village.

I wonder which lane of the current road the "quiet country lane" was. Glad we got to England while there were still a few left, one lane with barely enough room for a smallish rented car to slide between the hedges and often completely and darkly overarched by trees.