Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Hagioscope 5 meets Soho! 3

In the last post, Soho! I went on about 18th century hunting-drives, and that was inspired by this one above, lurking behind these neglected gates, about 500 yards away from where Her Indoors is conducting her second Summer School of the season.

This is the absolutely grand vista that you see on the other side of those huge gates - a hunting drive which must stretch over a mile to the house in the distance. I decided to explore on your behalf today (ok, it was for me too), so I drove for about 3 miles through ancient, deep-cut lanes to the left of this drive (avoiding Buzzards, Pheasant, Rabbits and hedge birds, until I arrived at....

... the other, top end of the drive, looking back from whence I came. I guess there must have been dense woodland either side of the drive originally, but now it is a fringe of trees. You will still get deer wandering onto this stretch, but if anyone hunts them, it will be in a nearby field with a high-velocity rifle. What a drive! What a vista! How I refreshed my love for England this morning, when I drove around taking these pictures. I should be an ambassador. The thing is, these estates are to be found ALL over Britain, from the far north to the extreme south, and both other directions. We are so lucky. You MUST come and see all this stuff, those of you who have not been here before. Get in touch, and I will drive you around my patch, if you come.

Just to the left of the South Wraxall drive is this stunning view of the Wiltshire downs. The Scott's Pine in the clump on the left denote an ancient burial site. These trees were planted on Leys because they are tall evergreens, and can be spotted both in winter and summer. The lane leading to the drive was lined with them. They were planted around 3000 years ago, and have been self-seeding ever since. And (I told you I was a lucky man) ALL this and more is only 3 miles from Bath and....

... 1 mile from my workshop, where you can see a marble Crouching Venus receiving attention from me by having her arse cleaned. I will give her some fingers back too, in the next few weeks.


  1. There is nothing like British countryside.
    I have been to and lived in many different countries and there truly is nothing like it. On odd days in the Spring and Autumn here in southern Ontario there will be a day when you can smell the wet earth of England and the memory of growing up in Hampshire in that moment can knock me sideways.
    Someday Tom...I'm going to take you up on the invitation to see Bath. I've been a couple of times, but always better to see a place from the inside out.

  2. Molly and Jacqueline - come and visit. I will take you out for lunch between drives! Same goes for the rest of you. I have seen Ontario, but only under about 3 feet of snow. There is one lane is Shrewsbury I would like you to shew me Molly... (note the krekt spelling of 'shew'...)

  3. Actually, I think my lense needs cleaning - I haven't touched it for years, or more accurately, I have!

  4. I agree with 446.

    Over here one never gets that feeling of history. The graveyards seem to begin around 1860, most houses date from the same era, and although there are ancient chateaux everywhere they are very insular.

    My mother used to visit Bath when we were small. I don't know what she did there (probably just recuperated), and she would always eat in a restaurant called The Hole in the Wall; I wonder if it's still there. Probably not.

  5. I must qualify the above. The old bastide towns, by which we are surrounded, were all built around 1270. And of course they are historical monuments in themselves. What we don't have is that 'scratch my surface and discover wondrous things' feeling. In between the 100 years war, and the post Napoleonic era, nothing much seems to have happened.

  6. I had to check to see if I agreed with 446, and I do. Thank you 446. The Hole in the Wall was still here until about 10 years ago, when a friend of mine took it over and destroyed it, almost destroying himself in the process. It used to be a very famous (and expensive) place.

    I have a feeling that France seems to lack a sense of continuity in the landscape because (a) it used to be part of the Norman territory, like England, and (b) England has never lost it's reverence for royalty and the upper classes. There were great parks in feudal France, but I think they must have been deliberately destroyed - apart from Versailles. The stuff which really gets me blogging is the effect humans have had on the landscape, and there is hardly a bit of landscape in Britain which has not been affected. The great thing is that the causes stretch over a period of about 20,000 years and sit side by side. 18th century England was dominated by the wool trade, where as agriculture in France was more political. It still is!

  7. Sounds good. My life just gets better! One thing's puzzling me though - who's this b(l)ogger with no profile called 446? Is it the web traffic police? Somebody translate ????

  8. He said, 'Such a dynamic (blog)' Moll. Unfortunately, I forgot to check the dotted lines after the comment, which - when clicked on - produced a live link to a Chinese porn site - silly me! I thought I was wise and clever, but I forgot to check for live dots! Oh well, I have deleted it now, and here is a message to any Chinese porn-merchants who may see this in the future:

    中国色情卖家 - 不合作!

  9. I am now forced to delete ALL Chinese entries in the future. How sad.

  10. can i request a tour in january Tom??!

  11. My uncle used to live in a mansion with such a drive. My mother hated visiting there, always feeling like the poor relation as we drove up in our old banger!

    I would love to see more of your work Tom.

  12. Maiden - yes of course you can. email me at and I will give you other personal details.... (including hotel recommendations)

    My customers would love to see more of my work too, Raz.