July 2, 2009

Gertrude Jekyll's "Old West Surrey"

Corgyncombe Library Notes
"Old West Surrey" was written by Gertrude Jekyll and published in 1904 when she realized how much life had changed in West Surrey. Of special interest to The Corgyncombe Courant photographer, Diane, is that Gertrude took her own photographs.

Gertrude liked handmade things that were well made and preferred them over the mass produced. In her chapter about "Home Industries", Gertrude speaks of spinning and that none of her elderly friends could remember a spinning wheel employed at its intended task. Usually the only time these wheels were brought out of the dark, dusty attics was when the cottage was sold. With the passing of time, these spinning wheels that were once discarded or set aside in favor of factory produced spinning, were appreciated for their old time beauty. Gertrude wrote about spinning wheels: "The sight of these simple pieces of mechanism - mechanism that supplemented but did not supplant hand labour - makes one think how much fuller and more interesting was the rural home life of the older days, when nearly everything for daily use and daily food was made and produced on the farm or in the immediate district; when people found their joy in life at home, instead of frittering away half their time in looking for it somewhere else; when they honoured their own state of life by making the best of it within its own good limits, instead of tormenting themselves with a restless striving to be, or at any rate to appear to be, something that they are not."

In the chapter "The Carter's Pride" Gertrude writes about farmers coming to town with their horses adorned with bells and ornamentation, and how lovely the bells sounded... a delight to see and hear.

In the photograph above a glimpse can be seen of shaft bells to the right of the peony. The Corgyncombe Courant reporters are thinking of a goat wagon and sleigh painted a mustard yellow similar to the chair, with bells attached to the shafts. The lavender on the book is from Diane's garden. Most of the lavender in Diane's garden is Munstead lavender. The pretty tea cup is from Maine.

Here is a link to: The Gertrude Jekyll web site

There you will find information about Gertrude and you will also learn how the Jekyll family may have been connected to Robert Louis Stevenson's "Jekyll and Hyde".

Here is another link to: Gertrude Jekyll's Garden Design


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