Posted by: billpurdue | January 13, 2011

Bolsover and Lullingstone

There are castles at these two locations but that’s where the similarity ends.

First, Bolsover….

When looking for a “Local Book of the Month”for my Chad column  at the weekend I came across a new book about Bolsover in Waterstone’s, Chesterfield. Bolsover Then and Now by Bernard Haigh and Geoff Harris [Silver Press, £11.95  978-0956713209] is one of those books that compares different views of an area 50 or 60 years ago with the same views taken very recently. I say “one of those books”, but it’s a particularly good example of this type of book. In landscape format and printed on glossy paper, the reproductions of both the old and the up to date photos is very good and plenty of historical notes are included.

Actually I don’t really have to write any more about this book as you can see a series of sample pages from it as well as Bernard Haigh’s introduction at http://2ndimage.co.uk/bolsover/ . Copies are on sale from the Bolsover Civic Society, tel. 01246 822793 or from Waterstone’s in Chesterfield, from Amazon .co.uk.  or from local shops, the library and the Tourist Information Centre in Bolsover.

A garden with a difference

When Tom Hart Dyke was kidnapped in the Darien Gap in the jungles of Central America in 2000, he whiled away the hours by making plans for a “World Garden”, a garden whose beds were shaped like the continents of the Earth and which contained plants representative of the region. No ransom was ever claimed and eventually he and his fellow traveller Paul Winder were suddenly released .

When Tom got back home – home to Lullingstone Castle in Kent – he co-wrote with Paul the bestselling book The Cloud Garden [Bantam 978-0593050798], which I featured in this blog last summer. Tom then set about creating the garden he had dreamed of whilst being held captive, as a means of transforming the finances of his family who own Lullingstone Castle. The Castle was not doing well in terms of visitor numbers and desperately needed something to encourage more people through the gates. Tom’s efforts to persuade his father to invest his savings in the project and to gain support from his friends, neighbours and the bank manager are described in his book An Englishman’s Home [Corgi £8.99 9780552155069] .

I found the book well worth reading, though it did seem to beat about the bush during the first few chapters in which Tom tells of the origins of his ideas about the garden, his ancestors, his family and chiefly about how his interest in plants developed from a very early age. If I were to say that his enthusiasm for plants came over in the book, I think I would be making the understatement of the year. He writes a lot about his heroes, the plant hunters of the 19th and 20th centuries who journeyed across the world to bring back new species.

The chapter describing his visit to Chatsworth to get advice from Deborah Devonshire herself is perhaps the best part of the book. Of course near the end of the book, the tension mounts as Tom and his friends work hard to get everything ready for the opening of the garden in the face of all sorts of obstacles including threats from his near neighbour who was still laying claim to part of the area occupied by the World Garden.

You may remember the BBC2 series “Saving Lullingstone Castle” but no mention seems to be made in the book about the TV crews filming the preparations – unless I blinked and missed it!

Well worth the read.

Next time I’ll take a look at some of the goodies in store in the shops in the next month or two

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