Sunday, 10 April 2016
Church, Hall, Gasworks, Bookshop, Lake
My cousin and I dropped in on this one, and a couple of others, after a visit to Sudbury Hall, that beautiful 17th-century mansion with its shimmering diapered brickwork and wide lake. I often find visiting 'stately homes' a wearying and not very rewarding experience - so many of them seem to be variants on the same plan of ostentatious display - but Sudbury is different, being on a relatively modest scale and, though hardly homely, not at all overwhelming.
Back in Wirksworth (where my cousin lives), a visit to Derbyshire's finest small bookshop - The Bookshop - yielded two small books (I'm buying small just now) that I was glad to find: Hugh Kingsmill's study of Frank Harris (Holiday Library reprint, 1949) and a book of colour reproductions of Hans Memling paintings.
The day before, over the border in Staffordshire, brought the first swallows of the year (despite the cold) - first a singleton, then later a pair, circling lazily over Rudyard Lake, the beautiful stretch of water that gave Kipling his name. His parents, John Lockwood Kipling and Alice MacDonald (one of the extraordinary MacDonald sisters), met at the lake, on an excursion from Burslem, and had such fond memories of the place that they gave its name to their first-born son. A good thing they didn't meet at Boylestone.