An English garden in the rain
An English Garden, Sol Invictus
Whilst walking around the grounds of Norburton Hall, where I have just spent the first month of my writing residency, I couldn't help thinking about the deliciously eerie song by Sol Invictus, An English Garden (you can listen to the song at the end of this blog if you fancy it!). It is definitely the perfect soundtrack for my second book, the Gothic novel The Book of Thoth, but contrary to the book's Whitemoor Hall, Norburton Hall is very real indeed...
Located on the edges of the beautiful village of Burton Bradstock in Dorset - with the sea a mere 15 to 20 minutes walk, 10 if you run! - Norburton is now a successful business catering for people who want to spend their holidays in comfort and surrounded by the understated beauty of an English manor house.
Originally part of a farming estate built in the 1640s, the house was entirely renovated by its new owner, the Sanskrit scholar Edward Toronto Sturdy in 1901 (Sturdy is a fascinating character and I still have to read up on him in more detail!). With the help of his cousin, the architect Philip Sturdy, Edward turned the house into a splendid Arts and Crafts country retreat.
We have been lucky enough to be given a tour by the lovely owner Karen Venn (you really couldn't get a warmer welcome!) and we have been able to admire the stunning Main Hall. There, a large Portland stone fireplace bears the Theosophists's motto in Sanskrit, which translates as: ‘There is no higher religion (or law) than truth.’
In what is now the Breakfast room, we saw the gorgeous Arts and Crafts fireplace designed by Walter Crane and featuring a proud peacock...
Go to the Norburton Hall website to have a look at some more pictures of the interior and read more about the estate's history!
The owners of Norburton Hall are great supporters of the arts, and I really cannot thank them enough for allowing me to spend two (yes, TWO! I am going back in January...) months in such an inspiring environment (as I explained in previous blogs HERE and HERE)...
I felt at home immediately (sometimes, I had to remind myself that no, I hadn't moved into a new house in Dorset just yet...) and enjoyed the peace and quiet I needed to finally unlock all the ideas that had been swirling around in my head for months on end...
I will try and capitalise on this burst of energy and carry on writing throughout December, even though my environment here in the South East is not exactly conducive to literary inspiration...
I will leave you with more pictures taken around the estate (obviously on different days) - all pictures by my partners in crime, SabineT Art and Matt ArtPix!
And the song by Sol Invictus mentioned earlier... Listen to it whilst looking at the images!
I think therefore I write.
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