Finchcocks – A Musical Garden


It’s grey and dreary here today so I make no apologies for writing about a garden I visited last summer* when the sun was still shining and the flowers blooming…


Now, doesn’t that make you feel better? And there’s still time for you to visit Finchcocks this year as it is open until the end of September.


I’m not sure why the garden of this Georgian Manor House feels likes such a delicious secret – almost as if it has just been discovered from another time. And every doorway you go through could just possibly take you to a new world..


Perhaps it’s because round every corner, you stumble on something from the past…


Or because the whole garden feels as if it just on the cusp of falling over into abandonment… in the best possible way because I should point out these 13 acres have been fully restored… but so sensitively that the romance still remains …


Ha, these flowers do look as they are about to burst into a glorious song! …


It’s certainly true that there is a musical theme going on…


Not surprising because the house is a musical museum with a famous collection of instruments you can visit. In fact, they are almost celebrities in their own right, with instruments featuring in films such as ‘Pride and Prejudice’, ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and ‘Vanity Fair’ amongst many others. There are regular recitals at Finchcocks, where you listen to world-class musicians play to you in rooms that make you feel you are in a Jane Austen novel.


You almost need a hat to show off in..


Or a frog to kiss into a Darcy…


One of my favourite instruments in the collection is the harpsichord which has been specially built so the music can only be heard by the person playing it. I took this thought with me into the garden as I watched the light making silent songs. Shhhhh…. can you hear them?


Perhaps my dad has been in my mind more than usual since writing the post about Monk’s House, but it made me think of the time he took me – as a child – to hear Beethoven’s 1812 Overture in London. I’ve never forgotten how much he laughed when I jumped at the cannons. So here’s my poem (after an upside-down daughter!):


My Father Always Like Loud Noises

I should have known something was up
when the trip was first announced –
‘A classical concert, us?’
I sit shredding the frills
on my new stiff petticoat,
running my nails the wrong way
across red velvet seats –
‘stop fidgeting’ – and then
musicians file on stage, one by one,
how many could there be? – ‘stop yawning’
a conductor summoning images like magic,
his baton sways wand-like and I’m cut
in half, made whole, half, whole,
pulled from a dozen top hats,
I’m a coloured dove flying high,
five hundred silk scarves floating free,
I’m icy rain and and hot sun,
until my father takes my hand in his,
I squeeze back – ‘thank you’ – until
– BOOM –
I turn to see his shoulders shaking
‘you jumped!’ but the truth is
I’ve been wound as tight as spring
since the very first note.

(*I’ve only just started dating when I visited each garden here because I hadn’t realised how many visitors I would get through search engines. A lovely surprise, but perhaps more useful if they show exactly when the garden has been photographed. Some poems for the posts flow straight after a visit, others – like this one – take longer to incubate, so I may post several months after a visit. I’m happy with this so I hope you understand. Rather like a garden, I don’t always like to be rushed!)

And the website for Finchcocks is here.
Date visited: July 2012

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