Friday, June 15, 2012

Come into the garden Maud

click photo to enlarge
The other day, with a group of friends and neighbours, we visited Harrington Hall in Lincolnshire. This fine country house with six acres of gardens is known for two contrasting reasons. Firstly, in 1991, whilst undergoing renovation, it suffered a devastating fire that caused damage to much of the interior and destroyed the roofs. The building we see today is a careful restoration that still retains parts built by the Copledyke family in the reign of Elizabeth I, the work done from 1673 by Vincent Amcotts, and the extensions of the eighteenth century and later. However, all this has been supplemented by walls, floors, panelling, ceilings etc that are either newly made in the style of the originals, or combine new work with what could be salvaged from the old.

The second well-known reason that people have heard of Harrington Hall is its Tennyson connection. Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892), who later became a Lord and the Poet Laureate, was born at the nearby village of Somersby where his father was the rector. It is said that in 1832, at the age of 23, Tennyson met the Baring family who lived at Harrington Hall, and became infatuated by their daughter, Rosa. His later poem ,"Come into the garden Maud" (1855)*, with its theme of an idealistic young man's love for the girl of a wealthy family, is thought to reflect that early episode in his life. The story goes that Tennyson's "High Hall Garden" is based on Harrington's extensive gardens and that the Viewing Terrace (from where my main photograph was taken) features in the poem. There is nothing conclusive linking the location and poem, but all circumstantial evidence, including poems later in life to "Rose" and a shared garden ("Rose, on this terrace fifty years ago, When I was in my June, you in your May..."), suggest that the reference is to his experiences at Harrington.

*  In 1857 Michael Balfe added music to "Come into the garden Maud". In consequence Tennyson's words (slightly modified) became better known through the song than the poem.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 28mm macro
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/500 sec
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On