Monday, 21 April 2014
A Storyteller's Garden
Cheshire is blessed with countless remarkable gardens, so rich in beauty, history and variety that it's hard to think of anywhere that competes, Cumbria and Cornwall perhaps excepted..I've visited very many of them, yet thanks to that fantastic charity the National Gardens Scheme, I keep discovering more. Over Easter, I explored one of the very best, and it was packed with literary associations. This was at Poulton Hall in Poulton Lancelyn, Wirral, which has been home to the same family for over nine hundred (yes, 900...) years, and which boasts a quite stunning Storyteller's Garden. Tailor-made to appeal to me, and appeal to me it certainly did. You enter this enchanted place through a wardrobe built into a wall (see the photo above), pushing through the fur coats hanging inside as you go. Brilliant!
There couldn't be anywhere more appropriate for a Storyteller's Garden, either, since Roger Lancelyn Green, former owner of the Hall, was famous for his work in writing for children. I remember quite vividly reading his tales of the Knights of the Round Table when I was very young. He was associated with C.S. Lewis and the Inklings, which makes that wardrobe into a wonderful world especially appropriate.
As if that were not enough, Roger's son Richard found fame as the world's leading expert on Sherlock Holmes. Unfortunately, I didn't know either man. Roger died in the 80s and Richard, tragically, just over ten years ago at the age of 50. Richard, a couple of whose excellent books are in my own tiny collection of Sherlockiana, was also the premier collector of material related to the great detective, and bequeathed this to the city of Portsmouth. I know from talking to Sherlockians how much he was admired in their circle. He was exceptionally knowledgable, and I wish I'd had the chance to talk to him about Sherlock.
As you can see from this small selection of photos, the Storyteller's Garden and its many decorations and sculptures focus largely on themes (Alice in Wonderland, Excalibur,nursery rhymes, pirates, the fire-breathing Jabberwocky, and many more) related to children's literature, in honour of Roger Lancelyn Gren, but not exclusively so. Among the other features of note is a marvellous carved Storyteller's chair, which features (among other things) Sherlock himself. I was lucky enough to visit Poulton Hall gardens on a sunny April day, and it's a visit that I'll long remember.