The waters of Boughton House

To Boughton House in Northamptonshire, the Versailles of the shires, with the SPAB’s Plunket scholars, to whom I am hon tutor, they are architects and surveyors who are also the Lethaby scholars; the Plunket scholarship encourages them to look at the allied arts, and the culture of the country house and we have a wonderful tour of Boughton (the sun is shining too) and the landscape project there, before an intense discussion about the students’ research topics, they have wonderful ideas and we help shape their programmes, then more inspections of tapestries, state beds, portraits and the wonderful 18th century Chinese tea house kept in the unfinished wing. The Duke of Buccleuch and his staff were hugely kind to let us come and to look after so well, and it was quite amazing to see the formal water garden restoration and the new landform designed by Kim Wilkie, an ingenious modern element to the glorious whole. Discussion re canals and transport ignites splendid chase to find a punt.


In London for a series of meetings, the last is held in the new bar Bob Bob Ricard in Soho where we can have tea and toasted muffins, before celebrating out work plan with a cocktail; it is a charming place, very Parisian in feel to me. Home life is dominated by the end of term, choir concerts, plays and farewell drinks, lots of change as our youngest changes school this summer, bringing to an end our long association with the local primary school, where they have both been happy, and where we have all made great friends. This was a happy time despite the grimness of mum’s death, although the emptiness that follows a funeral, made sharper by knowing that my mother had planned to come and spend 10 days with us, just now, to look after the girls while we worked, and enjoy our company. It hardly seems real that her life is ended, and I reckon it will take months to sink in, despite her months of illness.


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