Landmark Trust properties are usually very easy to find. For each stay you are always sent meticulous instructions which in some cases may be totally unnecessary but on other occasions you really do wonder whether the building will ever materialise. As we drove further and further off the beaten track in South Norfolk this morning along narrow lanes, with grass growing down the middle, we did wonder if we were ever going to find our quest. Suddenly, on the other side a big field we spotted Manor Farm “in the pink” just as my friend’s directions suggested!
We were visiting the Norfolk Landmark – Manor Farm – on changeover day. The housekeeper very kindly allowed us to have a quick peep around and I must say it is a lovely old building in which one would very quickly feel at home. The Landmark staples are all there plus the advantage of peace and quiet and a lovely big grassy garden. There is birdsong and there are wildflowers. You are truly in the depths of the countryside.
I took a particular interest in the Library at Manor Farm as Norfolk is my county of birth and I grew up and lived there for my first 18 years. I’ve read and I own lots of books about Norfolk and it’s always fascinating to see another’s take on what’s considered to be the essential reading matter for one’s own county.
I’d expect to see Henry Williamson’s The story of a Norfolk Farm and Ketton-Cremer’s A Norfolk Gallery. I love Susan Hill’s Through the Kitchen Window which would make a good addition to all country Landmarks. I know nothing about The rabbit skin cap but it sounds very cosy!
Ha! I love the fact that a copy of The Manor Farm by M. E Francis was tracked down. First published in 1902 it has no Norfolk connection (as far as I am aware) but the title is very fitting. Another good one is A Frenchman in England, 1784 Francois de la Rochefoucauld’s account of his observations of Britain and its people whilst living in Bury St Edmunds.
There’s a life of Elizabeth Fry the Victorian woman prison reformer born of a quaker banking family at Earlham Hall in Norwich and I note a copy of Arnold Wesker’s play Roots. I bet all Norfolk school pupils in the 1960s had to read this play – I know we did – the accents came easy to us! I’m familiar with several R. H. Mottram books. I’ve read his The Spanish Farm and If stones could speak but I don’t know The window seat. Will have to investigate. He was a prolific writer on many topics. See the list of works here.
Parson Woodforde, The Go-Between, The Paston Letters all very necessary for Norfolk. And, oh yes, I’d definitely include works by Roger Deakin. That’s his Notes from Walnut Tree Farm at the end there. Excellent reading in this part of the country especially his Waterlog. I read this book when it first came out. With the subtitle A swimmer’s journey round Britain Deakin writes here about his travels around Britain swimming in lakes and rivers and the sea. The book begins by relating his daily swims in his own moat. Moats surround many old properties in South Norfolk and North Suffolk. Here’s a quiet reach of the local River Waveney in Bungay where Deakin enjoyed swimming.
Sadly, Roger Deakin died in 2006. It’s still possible to listen to his radio programme Cigarette on the Waveney.
On leaving Manor Farm we only got lost twice and had to check maps and turn back twice and puzzle over road signs before reaching the real world of Harleston, Bungay and Hempnall. No one gave us instructions for leaving the Landmark!