Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A Diary Entry from Lady Elizabeth Marlowe

March 24th

The weather was grey today, as it has been all week. I know it is good practice to write daily in one’s diary but I find I prefer to write lengthier entries every several days. The days grow longer and for that I am thankful; it does cheer one’s soul to have more hours of daylight for walking in the garden and sewing by natural light.

Our musical evening was a splendid affair with many in attendance. The music room was filled with fresh flowers and candlelight, the scent and soft glow of light adding the right ambiance. Miss Arden, the harpist, chose a selection of music most agreeable. Wearing a robe of deep pink with an over skirt of sheer white, she had little glass stones pinned in her hair that twinkled in the candlelight as she played. Her hands were light as a feather on the strings of her harp, calling forth the most sublime sounds. I noticed the men were not whispering amongst themselves as they are wont to do, but all attention to the front of the room where Miss Arden was seated.

We had a short intermission before the soloist was introduced and the comments from the guests were kind and full of appreciation. The conversation was lighthearted and everyone was in a cheery mood as we sat at table. Mrs. Pym surpassed all my expectations creating the most sumptuous repast for my guests. The dishes were as beautiful as they were delicious and I had several compliments which I have passed on to Mrs. Pym producing a rare smile from her. I must remember to send word of thanks to Eva Broome for all her kind help with the cakes and fancies she supplied, she is a gem.

Our soloist, Miss Lettice Callan wore an ethereal gown of pale blue linen with embroidered rosebuds along the hem of her skirt. Her hair was exquisitely arranged with a gold circlet, her face framed by soft curls. I must ask Jenny Wren to learn how to achieve this look as it is most becoming. So graceful, she was one with the music, commanding everyone’s attention. My guests were simply entranced by her voice, just as I was when I first heard her sing in London.

The evening culminated in Miss Callan singing a duet with her dear mama from LaClemnza di Tito: Ah Perdona al primo affetto. Charles had arranged this little treat for me knowing it was among my favourite pieces of music. The two voices together created a harmonious blending of tone that brought tears to more than one in the room.

Madame Callan and her son travelled with Miss Callan to Amberleigh and are quite charming guests. I have asked them to remain for a time. Caroline has graciously asked us to dine with them on Friday afternoon with Joseph giving a tour of the estate beforehand. Having guests to stay is always cheering when the children are away at school. I shall delight in showing Madame Callan, a keen gardener, my rose garden. Tuesday next we have been invited to call upon Admiral and Harriet Endicott In Constance. I do hope the weather will be fine so the travel will not be arduous. I should like to call in on my friend Anne Maxwell while we are there as it has been quite some time since I saw her last.

Jane Meryvale’s letter was filled with the wonders of her trip through Derbyshire, something I would dearly love to do with Charles and the children. Kedleston Hall so far has been a favourite destination. She and her mother are now with her Aunt Catherine in Musford and will continue their tour next week. She mentioned her unpleasant encounter with Clarissa Howells at Mr. Wycliffe's shop. I am sure that woman has the power to vex even the vicar with her veiled insults. She likes nothing better than to discredit anyone with her faint praise causing a sudden lull in any conversation which only draws more attention to her wickedness.

I go now to my garden to cut flowers for the sitting room, the spring blooms are looking particularly lovely just now.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Featured Resident

The Reverend Shapleigh Thomas

Shapleigh Thomas, third son of Reverend Milton Thomas III and his wife Geneva Shapleigh grew up in a small town in Kent. One of five children, with two older brothers and two younger sisters, he was always the peacemaker and arbiter. Tall and thin with a shock of dark hair and deep set eyes of brown, Shapleigh would often draw his brow together while studying things most intently. As a child he showed an early interest in nature, collecting his own specimens, labelling and carefully preserving them. Butterflies particularly captivated him as did the local birds. By the age of ten he could identify any bird or butterfly in his environs. Shapleigh was a thoughtful child who spent many an afternoon in the library perusing his father’s books and in time began to add his own books to the shelves.

His father educated him at home with his brothers until he entered Oxford and finally was ordained. Shapleigh knew from a young age he was destined for the church as most second and third sons are, but he was content with his lot. In his teenage years he visited the sick and helped those in need when he was home from school. Patient and determined, his parents doted on him and their loss was great when his orders came and he was sent to a distant county.

The town of Fayrewood in Kent is a lush area with many farms, a bustling high street and a tight knit community of people. Among its residents Shapleigh Thomas had many friends and people would call out greetings wherever he went. Well liked and respected many of the young ladies cast an eye in his direction but he only had eyes for Mary.

The Guilford family, neighbours of the Thomas’, ran the local oast house with the help of their three sons and Mary, their only daughter. Mary could often be found chatting with Shapleigh after church and it became evident to all that one day they would wed. Once Shapleigh was ensconced in Amberleigh’s Rectory and had established himself as church leader and dear friend of the village, he returned to Fayrewood to marry his sweetheart, Mary, and bring her to his home to begin their life together.

Mary and Shapleigh have made their home in the rectory by the church, keeping a few sheep and planting a large kitchen garden. The two of them can often be seen working in the church grounds, pulling weeds and trimming low branches, chatting happily as they toiled. Shapleigh and Mary both have become an integral part of the Amberliegh family, liked and admired by all.

Foraging with Old Mary

  Hello, My Dears, As you know, I like nothing better than to meander around the Ackley Wood, foraging for herbs and wild flowers to use i...