The Landmark Trust USA and The Scott Farm, Dummerston

There is much more to The Landmark Trust USA than Naulakha!

Based at The Scott Farm on Kipling Road, Dummerston, VT the Trust owns three other rental properties and plans to renovate a further one. The Scott Farm itself operates a Heritage Apple growing farm that covers 626 acres. It has been planted with orchards producing over 70 varieties of organically grown apples, plus some other fruits, peaches for example. The apples are marketed through whole food shops throughout Vermont and selected markets in Massachusetts.

Scott Farm Heritage Apples in the Brattleboro Food Co-op

Read more about the Scott Farm here.

Our trip to Vermont last month was not our first visit to a Landmark Trust USA property. In 2008 we spent a week at The Sugarhouse where maple syrup had been produced up to 1970.  It’s a very simple, basic but cosy single storey building accommodating just two people. The interior is a single space with partitioned bedroom and the walls lined with warm honey-coloured pine panels. Like all Landmarks it has its shelf of books and a supply of jigsaw puzzles and games.

The Sugarhouse

The Sugarhouse Library

Another larger property on the Scott Farm is the Dutton Farmhouse. On both I visits I was lucky enough to be able to visit the house on changeover days but this year was extra special as we were accompanied on our visit by Kelly Carlin the Landmark USA’s Office Manager and fount of much knowledge about the houses, ownership and history. She told us lots about the work of the Scott Farm and its various projects.

It was a lovely walk up to the Farmhouse from Naulakha along a broad track with orchards of trees overladen with apples on the one side and forest/woodland on the other.

At one time the Dutton Farmhouse provided accommodation for the seasonal apple pickers working for the Scott Farm. They painted this mural on the wall in the dining room. It is too fragile to be moved.

The third Landmark Trust USA property, Amos Brown House, is located about 12 miles away from the Scott Farm in Whitingham, Vermont. Built by Amos Brown in 1802 it operated as a farmhouse for well over 100 years and in the 1930s the farm became home to Carthusian monks, a contemplative order founded in France.

“For nearly 20 years, the monks lived in shacks in the woods and held services and prepared meals in the house. By the 1990s the Amos Brown house had declined considerably and was abandoned. The owner gave the house to the local historical society.

The Landmark Trust USA acquired the property in 2000 from the historical society who found management of the property beyond their means and expertise. The house enjoyed its first visitors in 2003 after 2 years of restoration.” (From the Amos Brown webpage)

ABH sleeps 6 and is the most popular of all the accommodations with British visitors.

Plans are afoot at Scott Farm to convert a Milk House located on the farm itself and attached to the large barn into a bijou Landmark to sleep two. David Tansey the President and Farm Manager at Scotts showed us the Milk House and explained the plans for its conversion when we visited the Farm Shop on the Sunday of our stay.

The Milk House

The Milk House (It’s very small!)

The Milk House in the midst of The Scott Farm

The Trust has also taken on an educational role and encourages the maintaining of building and other craft skills. We noticed two examples of this. During the weekend of our visit the Scott Farm was hosting a class of dry stone walling students/enthusiasts. David showed us the results of the weekend’s work in the barn and Kelly explained that the stone walls surrounding the fields opposite the Dutton Farmhouse were gradually being completed by visiting wall building enthusiasts.

2008 View from the Dutton Farmhouse (of the Green Mountains of New Hampshire) NB no stone wall

The View in September 2012 – NB dry stone wall nearly complete

In the Naulakha logbook there are comments by a regular visitor who leads dramatisations of the works of Rudyard Kipling for local school children in the house in which some of them were written.

“February 8-11 2013 – Brattleboro VT, Might you be sitting on some great stories that you’d like to put out there…? For the 7th year, Jackson offers Springboards for Stories workshop/retreat in one of New England’s most inspiring settings: Rudyard Kipling’s historic VT home, “Naulakha”. Open to all regardless of performing experience.”

Display at The Farm Shop

The Farm Shop not only sells apples and related products – cider and frozen fruits and, if you are lucky, homemade apple pies but also has some interesting displays. Needless to say the property leaflets are available to take away and there are some of Kipling’s books on display.

Our attention was also drawn to the fact that the movie The Cider House Rules (1999) starring Michael Caine was partly filmed on the Scott Farm premises.

A Tale of Bliss and Tragedy : Rudyard Kipling in Vermont, 1892-1896

Naulakha has been wonderfully restored and there are a great many original furnishings and fittings, as I have mentioned already. In addition there is a barn set  out like a museum with Kipling-related artefacts and display cases in the second floor attic showing some of the smaller stuff.

Bliss Cottage as it stands today on the opposite side of the road from that upon which it stood in Kipling’s day

I imagine that the Bliss in the title must come from the name of the cottage in which the Kiplings lived,  just down the road in Brattlebooro, whilst Naulakha was being built and where baby Josephine was born but also from the fact that Rudyard states that his Naulakha days were the happiest of his life. His second child, another daughter, Elsie, was born at Naulakha.

The Barn Museum – exterior

Note the very strong connection with British Landmark Trust. All of their properties abroad – in France, Italy and Naulakha – have British connections.

The Barn Museum – interior

Kipling invents Snow Golf

In the attic are a set of Rudyard Kipling’s golf clubs. These must once have stood in the Entry Hall or Loggia as the House Tour states :

The golf clubs and rack are Kipling’s also. According to the United States Golf Association, Kipling invented “snow golf” here in Dummerston.

The giant sled, “Red Phaeton”, stands in pieces in one of the abandoned horse boxes.

The Barn Museum really puts the story of the Kiplings and their time at Naulakha into perspective. Mostly it’s told on storyboards with copies of illustrations and typed out quotations.

There is more memorabilia in the Attic Display Cases.  Not everything dates from the Kipling era.

Top: Present day postcards and leaflet (my display!). Middle: Close up of the postcards and a postal first day cover. Bottom: The postcards display case.

Also in the attic is a double fronted bookcase containing many many volumes of Kipling biography and criticism. It’s a separate collection of British, US and some French books donated to Naulakha. Most of the information that I absorbed about the author and his New England home came from the box file of notes which contained the House Tour, the very detailed notes of submission for the house to be included on the [US] National Register of Historic Places and magazine and newspaper articles; from the museum information boards and from the 96 page The Hated Wife ; Carrie Kipling, 1862-1939 by Adam Nicolson and published in the short lives series by Short Books in 2001. Lent to me by a friend (and reader here) it sums up the Kipling life stories but left me still sympathetic to Caroline and, of course, their tragic lives which included the early deaths of two of their three children.

Rudyard Kipling never built any other homes for himself and eventually settled in a 17th century house in the Sussex Weald.  He lived there for 32 years from 1902 to 1936. Since 1940 it has been in the ownership of The National Trust. How I long to visit Bateman’s.

Josephine Kipling died of influenza in New York in 1899 as the family were on their way to visit Caroline’s mother in New England. Kipling was very ill at the same time  and after his recovery they returned to the UK. They were never to revisit New England and their beloved Naulakha was sold.

Do watch, if you haven’t already, the 2007 BBC film ‘My Boy Jack’.

‘My Boy Jack’

1914-18

 “HAVE you news of my boy Jack? “

Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind—
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide.

So you see how Bliss turned to Tragedy for Rudyard and Carrie Kipling.

The Complete [Water] Works of Rudyard Kipling

Writing my description of the House Tour of Naulakha yesterday I purposely omitted any mention of bathrooms. I thought that they deserved a separate post of their own.

A quick deviation to books here before I start on bathroom descriptions. Compared with all other Landmarks that I’ve visited the library (like the house itself) is h-u-g-e. In fact, it could be called a library (as in room) if it were not already called a study. Bookshelves fill all wall space not already occupied by desk, couch and fireplace. There is the usual couple of shelves of local and house related books but in addition there are full sets of classic authors – Hawthorne, Austen, Scott – unfortunately no Edith Wharton (more about her later) and there are many ‘old’, but no less interesting I’m sure, books. In addition there are, as you might suppose, several runs of The Complete Works of Rudyard Kipling.

From the House Tour notes :

CENTRAL BATHROOMS

The Kiplings had one L-shaped bathroom. The Holbrooks divided this in two and made a pair of complete bathrooms. We left the latter arrangement as more suitable to modern usage. The toilet in the middle bath and the tub in the south bath are original.

We didn’t dare to use it!

We know it’s RK’s bath because it has his nameplate on it :

The fixtures all required re-nickeling.

One of the servant’s rooms was converted to a bathroom by the Holbrooks. The Trust removed the concrete floor that had been installed during these alterations, and replaced it with tile in a typical turn-of-the-century design.

In amongst the local/house related books I found :

It’s a fascinating study of bathrooms but I can’t believe it dates all the way back to the early 1900s. It’s a reprint, but even so … I’m sure this would not be Rudyard Kipling choosing his sanitary wear.

Or even the Holbrooks – theirs is far too complicated :

Naulakha : a tour of Rudyard Kipling’s New England home

For a whole week from 7th to 14th September I was immersed in Kiplingiana. I stayed at Naulakha near Brattleboro Vermont and enjoyed chota pegs on Rudyard Kipling’s verandah, ate vegetable curry at his dining table, slept in his (and his wife Carrie’s) bedroom, relaxed in his bath, read his books in the study where he wrote some of them and wrote postcards home from his desk for Naulakha is a Landmark Trust USA property and anyone can book to stay to there.

In a box file in the study is a typescript House Tour Guide so I have adapted this and added my own photographs in order to take you on a tour of this wonderful house.

BACKGROUND

Naulakha is a Hindi word that means ‘great jewel’. It was built in 1892-1893 on an 11 acre plot that the Kiplings bought from Beatty Balestier, Mrs Kipling’s brother. Henry Rutgers Marshall of New York was the architect who carried out Rudyard Kipling’s wishes. The house, described as a ship by  Kipling, is 90 feet by 22 feet with the rooms facing the lovely view over the Connecticut River valley; a hallway runs along the uphill side.The windows are  large and were called “lavish and wide” by Kipling. The house cost just over $11,000 and is the only one built by Kipling.

ENTRY HALL AND LOGGIA

The interior walls forming these rooms were removed by later owners, the Holbrooks, in order to create a large, open central space. Rudyard Kipling himself said that the Loggia was “the joy of the house” so its reinstatement was important. Fortunately, the original pocket doors and ash panelling were discovered in a barn up the road. The two brown wicker chairs are original.

MRS KIPLING’S STUDY

Visitors wishing to see Rudyard had to pass through this room. Carrie diligently protected her husband’s work time and privacy – so effective was Mrs K that this became known as the ‘dragon’s chamber’. The picture ‘The camel corps’ and illustrations from Mrs Hauksbee stories are original.

The lithograph of Kipling is based on the oil painting by his cousin Philip Burne-Jones which now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London. Philip and Rudyard made this lithograph.

RUDYARD KIPLING’S STUDY

Most of the bookcases are original including the revolving case. The inscription over the fireplace was done in 1893 by Rudyard’s father, John Lockwood Kipling and is from the Gospel of St John.

“The Night Cometh When No Man Can Work”

In this room Rudyard Kipling wrote the Jungle Books, Captains Courageous, A Day’s Work and The Seven Seas. He also began Kim and the Just So Stories.

The original leather couch is too frail to leave out. The decorative screen in the bay window is likely from Kashmir. The bookcases and stained glass panels on the west wall were added to ensure privacy.

MAIN STAIRCASE

This is the original oil light fixture, later electrified by the Holbrooks. Most of the pictures on the first floor landing are original.

GUEST BEDROOM

At the top of the main flight of stairs is the main guest room. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and William James (brother of novelist Henry) are two famous guests who have slept here.

MASTER BEDROOM

This was the bedroom of Rudyard and Carrie Kipling.

NURSERY

This is divided into the day and the night nurseries. The decorative plaster work in the day nursery was done by John Lockwood Kipling for his first granddaughter, Josephine. It was for Josephine that the Just So Stories were composed. Jospehine was born down the road at Bliss Cottage in 1892. Elsie Kipling was born in Naulakha in 1896.

ATTIC

There is a large playroom used by the Kiplings (still a games room today) and a small bedroom (now houses display cases and a book collection) probably used by the maid.

SERVANTS ROOMS

The north end of the house was for servants’ use. One of the sernants’ bedrooms was converted to a bathroom by the Holbrooks. The bedroom furniture is not original. There are no records of how these rooms were furnished.

KITCHEN

The layout is original including the stove hood and hearth stone. The small windows to the east of the stove allowed light but did not allow the servants to see the Kiplings on the small porch. The Holbrooks used this room as a study and moved the kitchen to the basement. The Trust have restored it to its original ground floor location.

DINING ROOM

The table and china cabinet are original The sideboard was built for the Kiplings in New York with panels brought from India. Most of the dining chairs are too fragile to use and were, in fact, broken over the years; they are currently in storage. The stained glass is original except for one panel which was broken. The small porch was built as a fun space and gives the feeling of being on a ship’s deck.

THE GROUNDS

The tennis court and small gazebo (called ‘the summerhouse’ by the Kiplings) were built by the Kiplings.

The small gabled building along the driveway was the Kiplings’ ice house. The house behind was originally the carriage house with living quarters above for the coachman, Matthew Howard, and his family.

The barn, which now houses displays of Kipling’s years in Vermont, was built by the Kiplings in 1896. No other buildings are from the time of the Kiplings. The layout of the garden walls is the same as for the Kiplings, although all of the walls have collapsed at different times over the years and been rebuilt.