Thursday, July 10, 2014

Patchwork of the Crosses

Are you ready to take a break from stitching?  Read on to find out about a good book you might like to try!

Lucy Boston was an author as well as a quilter.  She was in her sixties when she wrote her first book, “Yew Hall,” followed by a series of children’s books that made her famous.  In the books she used her home, the Manor at Hemingford Grey, as the model for Green Knowe, the house in the story.   The first of the children’s series, “The Children of Green Knowe” was published in 1954 and was a runner-up for the Carnegie Medal.  The illustrations in the books were drawn by Lucy Boston’s son, Peter.   

I loved the story of Tolly, a small boy who comes to visit the great-grandmother he’s never met who lives in a magical old manor house dating from the Norman Conquest and continuously inhabited by his ancestors, the d’Aulneaux, later the Oldknowe or Oldknow, family.  The manor was swimming in water from the winter floods and Tolly arrived at the door at night in a boat.  What a way to set the stage for the mysterious and magical events of the story!  Above the fireplace hangs a picture of three children who grew up at Green Knowe during the reign of Charles II in the 17th century.   Tolly explores the rich history of his family through a series of stories his great-grandmother tells him about the children in the picture.  He finds the children’s playthings hidden here and there around the house and begins to encounter, not frighteningly, what appear to be the spirits of the three descendants.

The little toy mouse from the story

In the story, real life and fantasy intermingle in the most delightful way - it’s a fun book not just for children, but for adults as well!  I found the book at my local library.

The book was adapted for television in 1986 in the BBC production The Children of Green Knowe.
In the story, Tolly’s bedroom is reminiscent of this bedroom at the Manor.  The rocking horse and bird cage are both part of the story.

There is certainly something fascinating about the manor. Today, many people visit to experience a place they imagined as a child after reading Lucy Boston’s Green Knowe books and studying their illustrations, which were lovingly drawn by her only son, Peter.   Far from being a reconstruction in a theme park or an uninhabited museum, the house is first and foremost a home, currently inhabited by Lucy’s daughter-in-law, Diana Boston – a characteristic which only adds to its appeal.


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