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Where exactly was Green Hedges?

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Re: Where exactly was Green Hedges?

Postby Green Hedges » 24 Jun 2008, 14:32

Oh, great! - another rich geographical thread leading all the way back to Enid. :D

Thanks to redlionweb for providing the maps - priceless info. Thanks to Eljay for providing the recent photo. But, as redlionweb suggests, it is number 10 Blyton Close that just about lines up with where Green Hedges used to stand, not number 1. Yes? I come to that conclusion from a scrutiny of maps 2 and 3, in particular by lining up the houses on the other side of Penn Road with the house in question, 42 Penn Road.

What would really add to this is if someone local (redlionweb your stately pub must be very nearly on these maps :wink: ) could go to Bekenscot model village and take photographs of the scale model of Green Hedges that is in there, set in its grounds, so that readers of this thread can get an even fuller picture of the once-glorious, now flattened former home of Enid Blyton.

Here are a few points that come to mind:

In the 1949 collection called A Story-Party at Green Hedges, the title page of the book and the page preceding it include a wonderful coloured (orange-grey-brown-black) drawing of the west facade of Green Hedges. That is, the sweeping path coming up from the south along which the children - who have been invited to a party at Green Hedges - are walking. One of the 14 children is called Anita, as it happens :)

Grace Lodge must have visited Green Hedges to make the sketch, unless she was provided with a photograph. I say that because Imogen's book A Childhood at Green Hedges provides a small photo of the west of the house, including the front door, on page 14. Not a very good photo, but clear enough to work out that Grace Lodge has drawn the west front of Green Hedges meticulously.

In the colored sketch, Enid can be seen greeting the children arriving for the party. The exact same front door and flanking windows can be seen on page 4 of Enid's The Story of My Life. What a warm smile of welcome on the author's face. "Come in, children. Each and every one of you is welcome to Green Hedges," she seems to be saying, in both books.

Perhaps the most special part of the house was the south side. That's where Enid's study was. And just outside that was the big verandah, containing the swing seat, on which she used to write on dry days from the beginning of April to the middle of October. In chapter 8 of The Story of My Life she tells her readers that while she is writing, she likes to look up into her garden from time to time and in particular at the little round pool she had made for herself.

Enid had two ponds in her garden, a more formal, oblong one in the big, more formal stretch of garden to the east of the house (Bekenscot photo, please!). And it looks from Eljay's satellite photo that there are two swimming pools in the vicinity now... But back to the round pond and what Enid writes about it in chapter 8 of her autobiography. I'm going to transcribe quite a long quote here, partly because The Story of My Life is getting to be quite an expensive book these days, £49 being the lowest price for it on abebooks when I last looked.

***********************
'There is a little lawn there [to the south of the house], surrounded by a pergola of rambler-roses, and backed by a great high bank of rhododendron, which is a grand sight in May and June. I thought I would have my pond in the middle of that lawn.

'It was soon made - you can see it in this book. It is deep enough for two plants of water-lilies, one yellow and one deep-pink. There is plenty of other water-weed there too. I planted it myself by getting sprays of water-weed, tying a stone to the end of each and dropping the stone into the water. Its weight pulled the weed to the bottom where it soon rooted and grew.

'I put a bathing stone there, and I hoped the birds would soon find it. They did, of course, and each summer now I sit on my big swing-seat, watching the big glossy blackbirds bathe, and freckled thrushes. I see the starlings come down in a "murmuration" as their flock is called, and splash busily and hurriedly. Then they all fly back to the nearest tree and if I walk under it I am splashed with thousands of silvery drops as the starlings shake themselves dry!

'The chaffinches come down and the green-finches. The beautiful goldfinches come, little fairy birds, as charming as their name. Last summer they brought their family with them - three pretty little youngsters. How we held our breath when they all dipped their beaks into our pond and drank! We felt very honoured.

'Two hawfinches come, rarer birds, with enormous beaks, heavy and clumsy-looking. We are always pleased to see them, because they are so shy and easily scared that we feel it is a great compliment to have them. Two bullfinches come to the pond to drink, too, magnificent in their black and red. We see the pair together all the year round, shy and very handsome. Wagtails come; robins, of course, sparrows by the dozen, a neat little hedge-sparrow or two, and sometimes two beautiful ring-doves.

'Some bathe. All of them drink, dipping in their beaks and lifting up their heads to let water run down their throats. The robin always sings a note or two of thanks, in a rich, creamy little voice. Sometimes the fly-catchers come, and then we watch in delight. Tits of all kinds arrive - the great tit "ringing his bell", so loud is his voice. We always know when he is about!

'But I didn't make my pond only for the birds. It was for goldfish too. I started off with two. they are big ones, one very big. They liked the pond very much. They examined everything in it. When the hot summer sun blazed down on the pond, the water became very warm. I dipped a thermometer into it. "It's over 62 degrees!" I said. "It's warm enough for them to breed. They will lay eggs and we shall have baby goldfish."

'One of the goldfish is a real character. He doesn't like the birds to come and drink or bathe. I suppose he regards the pond as his. Anyway, as soon as a bird stands on the bathing-stone, he swims up to it and butts his head against the bird's legs, trying to scare it away! And if he sees a row of little sparrows drinking, he swims over to them and knocks their beaks. He really is a lively and amusing little fellow.

'I always wanted a pond of my own. It's nice to long for a thing and make up your mind to get it and work for it. It brings you such great pleasure when at last you have got it and enjoy it. I don't think I have ever enjoyed anything quite so much as my pond.'

***********************

So when Eric Rogers sold Green Hedges to developers after Enid's death, he wasn't just demolishing the house - the study where she wrote her books in winter, the verandah where she wrote her books in summer - he was getting rid of the thing that she enjoyed above all else, her little pond.

I'm pretty sure how I feel about this. :cry: What do others feel?

Duncan (maybe less confusing than my forum name in this context)
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Re: Where exactly was Green Hedges?

Postby Anita Bensoussane » 24 Jun 2008, 17:07

Green Hedges wrote:What would really add to this is if someone local (redlionweb your stately pub must be very nearly on these maps :wink: ) could go to Bekenscot model village and take photographs of the scale model of Green Hedges that is in there, set in its grounds, so that readers of this thread can get an even fuller picture of the once-glorious, now flattened former home of Enid Blyton.


I'm sure I read somewhere that, although the house is a scale model, there wasn't room in the model village to reconstruct the whole of the grounds so only part of the gardens are shown.

Green Hedges wrote:In the 1949 collection called A Story-Party at Green Hedges, the title page of the book and the page preceding it include a wonderful coloured (orange-grey-brown-black) drawing of the west facade of Green Hedges. That is, the sweeping path coming up from the south along which the children - who have been invited to a party at Green Hedges - are walking. One of the 14 children is called Anita, as it happens :)

Grace Lodge must have visited Green Hedges to make the sketch, unless she was provided with a photograph. I say that because Imogen's book A Childhood at Green Hedges provides a small photo of the west of the house, including the front door, on page 14. Not a very good photo, but clear enough to work out that Grace Lodge has drawn the west front of Green Hedges meticulously.


I only discovered A Story Party at Green Hedges as an adult and was delighted to see Grace Lodge's exquisite illustrations of Enid Blyton and Green Hedges. I was also pleased to have been invited to the party! The "Tale for Anita" is called "The Cat Without a Tail." Hmm - perhaps Enid ought to have invited a boy named Duncan. I know he's rather partial to stories about tails! :wink:

It's a great pity that we can't wander through the rooms and gardens of Green Hedges and soak up the atmosphere. Old Thatch has a very special feeling to it and I'm sure Green Hedges would too.

Anita
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Re: Where exactly was Green Hedges?

Postby Moonraker » 24 Jun 2008, 18:08

Green Hedges wrote: Tits of all kinds arrive - the great tit "ringing his bell", so loud is his voice. We always know when he is about!


Am I alone in thinking of Goon?

Enid Blyton wrote:'I always wanted a pond of my own. It's nice to long for a thing and make up your mind to get it and work for it. It brings you such great pleasure when at last you have got it and enjoy it. I don't think I have ever enjoyed anything quite so much as my pond.'


So true. We have four ponds in our garden. They bring unspeakable joy. We must have at least twenty frogs in residence, and the sound of running water is so good to listen to. I am sat in my garden as I write this, a pint of Murphy's at my side.
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Re: Where exactly was Green Hedges?

Postby Tony Summerfield » 24 Jun 2008, 19:27

I was invited by Bekonscot to the unveiling of the model of Green Hedges by Gillian back in 1997 and if I can lay my hands on them I have a number of photos of it. I know that they had great difficulty with the model as they did it all from photos and there were none in colour, I believe I am right in saying that they had to guess at one aspect of the house as there were no photos at all from one particular direction.

If I remember rightly there is very little garden on the model, there just wasn't room.
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Re: Where exactly was Green Hedges?

Postby Green Hedges » 24 Jun 2008, 21:09

Good luck in finding the photos, Tony. Let's hope Nigel hasn't hidden them in one of his four ponds! If so, he may have used Enid's technique of planting water-lilies. That is, he'll have weighed down the packet of photos with a stone. So, Tony, you'll have to get your arm well down into the water before rummaging around. Still, I don't suppose you're afraid of getting a little frogspawn on your sleeve. Or will it be tadpoles at this time of year? Or even fully fledged frogs? Enid would have known.

Actually, Anita, I was at that party of Enid's that she wrote up as A Story Party at Green Hedges. I wanted a story about the Moon and a pond and eight pints of Murphy's but she just laughed and suggested I didn't need her to tell me a story as I clearly had one of my own in mind already. She was right, but I did feel sorry for myself at being completely edited out of her splendid book. Still, to have opened the collection to find 'A Tale for Duncan' at the head of a blank page would have been even more of a downer!

It must be the north side of the house that the model makers of Green Hedges had to guess at. The east flank is well covered by the bottom photo on page 14 of A Childhood at Green Hedges and the photograph on page 79 of The Story of My Life.

The large formal garden to the east of the house is captured in the photograph at the foot of page 103 in Imogen's book as well as the photo on page 17 in Enid's. I seem to remember from my own visit to the Bekenscot suburb of Beaconsfield, while researching Looking For Enid, that the rectangular rose beds and oblong pond were indicated in the base of the model. I wonder if the model-makers scaled down the garden or lopped a bit off. Though I think the 'garden' of the model is very simplified, and so not as useful or important as the architectural model itself.
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Re: Where exactly was Green Hedges?

Postby Eljay » 24 Jun 2008, 22:52

Green Hedges wrote:But, as redlionweb suggests, it is number 10 Blyton Close that just about lines up with where Green Hedges used to stand, not number 1. Yes? I come to that conclusion from a scrutiny of maps 2 and 3, in particular by lining up the houses on the other side of Penn Road with the house in question, 42 Penn Road.


Redlionweb says he thinks it is #1 Blyton Close, not 10. I agree, partly based on the plans but also, if you think about it, where #10 is must have been the south-facing part of the garden - where the little round pond and the statue of the little girl looking up at the sky were, as well as what Imogen calls the 'Witch's Lawn'. There is a good picture of this area on page 40 of Imogen's book and it was clearly located to the *right* of the house, stretching out for some distance. Of course I'm not saying that you're wrong (we can't be sure, after all), but if your theory is correct surely there would have been no room for that part of the garden.
Last edited by Eljay on 25 Jun 2008, 19:33, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Where exactly was Green Hedges?

Postby redlionweb » 25 Jun 2008, 18:08

Actually it was Amy at the planning office who said she thought that it was No. 1 Blyton Close (along with the road itself) that was on the site of what once was Green Hedges. Having looked at the maps (and even held them up against the light to map one on to the other) I reckon it's actually the road and No.10.
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Re: Where exactly was Green Hedges?

Postby Julie2owlsdene » 25 Jun 2008, 20:20

Thanks for posting the maps etc Red Lion, it's all very interesting. I would really like to explore this and the surrounding area.

I agree with you also Duncan, that it was a great shame this lovely house and garden was demolished. What a great Enid Blyton museum the house and grounds would have made. And a lovely place to have the Enid Blyton Day too. :D

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Re: Where exactly was Green Hedges?

Postby Eljay » 25 Jun 2008, 22:30

The demolition of Green Hedges was indeed an act of cultural vandalism - not to mention an extremely short-sighted business decision, as surely far more money could have been made out of the house by opening it to the public as a tourist attraction than by selling it for building. So Eric Rogers was completely dim as well as a philistine!

Enid would be sad to know that the house and garden she loved so much no longer exist, but happy and no doubt amused to know that she has her very own street, named in her honour! :)
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Re: Where exactly was Green Hedges?

Postby Enikyoga » 26 Jun 2008, 04:56

I strongly believe that Enid Blyton has to blame for the fate of some of her memorabilia being destroyed shortly before and after her death. First, she married that opportunist of a second husband, Dr. Kenneth Darrell Waters who took advantage of his wife's fame and fortune in many ways and in the end as an ingrate as he was, ended up destroying most of EB's diaries that could have shed much light on her most productive writing period, that is between 1937 and 1967. It is the same Waters that recruited Eric Rogers as Blyton's business confidant, who would in turn end up demolishing Green Hedges less than five years after her death, for personal gain. So, EB is in a way responsible for creating these two monsters that cared little for her personal and literary memory. Yes, it is not always to speak ill of the dead but at times it is better to set the record straight on some issues.
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Re: Where exactly was Green Hedges?

Postby Belly » 26 Jun 2008, 08:14

In a Childhood at Green Hedges Imogen Smallwood writes about the children who lived next door who became friends with her and Gillian. I can't remember all the details but Enid allowed access between both gardens and the children came and went freely.

Which house is this likely to have been?

There was then a row I think, Enid disapproved of the parents or something and the 'hole' in the hedge was closed. Maybe someone can shed some light on my what I only half recall, thanks!
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Re: Where exactly was Green Hedges?

Postby Anita Bensoussane » 26 Jun 2008, 10:57

Belly wrote:In a Childhood at Green Hedges Imogen Smallwood writes about the children who lived next door who became friends with her and Gillian. I can't remember all the details but Enid allowed access between both gardens and the children came and went freely.

Which house is this likely to have been?

There was then a row I think, Enid disapproved of the parents or something and the 'hole' in the hedge was closed. Maybe someone can shed some light on my what I only half recall, thanks!


Imogen Smallwood identifies the house as Upton Leigh, writing in A Childhood at Green Hedges:

One day when I was fourteen, my mother announced quite calmly that we were no longer to go across to Upton Leigh to see them [the Biggs family of four children] and that the gap in the hedge was to be closed up...I have discussed this event with Diana, Keith and Bet [three of the Biggs children, the fourth being Bet's twin Jennifer] but they cannot remember it with any clarity. Keith suggested that it might have had something to do with roulette parties, for very small stakes, that his father instituted in their house. But although my parents, in spite of my stepfather's own gambling, may have been mildly shocked by this, I cannot see it having any effect on the relations between the children. I do recall someone, perhaps my sister, telling me that my mother did not think it suitable that I should continue my friendship with Keith, given that we were both now adolescent. These sound like her words. Of course there was no reason for her to fear for either of us. Still young for our ages, we were more like a casual brother and sister, agreeable to one another but not close. Our interests had diverged as my involvement with ponies brought me, in fact, much closer to the twins.


Eljay wrote:The demolition of Green Hedges was indeed an act of cultural vandalism - not to mention an extremely short-sighted business decision, as surely far more money could have been made out of the house by opening it to the public as a tourist attraction than by selling it for building. So Eric Rogers was completely dim as well as a philistine!


It sounds as if Eric Rogers was eager to convert his share of the estate into cash as quickly as possible. According to George Greenfield in his book Enid Blyton, Eric had written himself into the wills of both Kenneth and Enid. He even borrowed £150,000 (worth a great deal in today's terms) from Enid Blyton's company, Darrell Waters Ltd, with no intention of paying it back. The loan had to be written off on his death in 1980. Terrible that he could do that when Kenneth had regarded him as a friend.

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Re: Where exactly was Green Hedges?

Postby Anita Bensoussane » 26 Jun 2008, 11:17

Flicking through A Childhood at Green Hedges I came across a paragraph about the writing of A Story Party at Green Hedges, mentioned earlier in this thread. Imogen writes that, in the summer of 1948, the Biggs family joined them in Swanage and that A Story Party at Green Hedges originated there: "Grace Lodge, the artist, came down to the Grosvenor Hotel and a group of children, including Jennifer and Bet, were assembled for her to sketch while my mother read them a story. Later on my mother put together a set of stories and wrote for each one a little conversation between her and the child for whom the story was supposed to be written, and then Grace Lodge illustrated the stories in her usual way. For Jennifer my mother wrote a story about a horse and for Bet a tale about a doll's house."

Unfortunately that doesn't tell us whether Grace Lodge ever visited Green Hedges but at least we know she met Enid Blyton.

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Re: Where exactly was Green Hedges?

Postby Tony Summerfield » 26 Jun 2008, 11:25

I think I have a copy of the photo of that incident, Anita, but I had just assumed it was taken at Green Hedges! I will check to see if it is in the archives, or perhaps I used it in a Journal. One of these days we need a decent Journal index and then I wouldn'tt have to go backwards and forwards through the Journal catalogue all the time! :roll:
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Re: Where exactly was Green Hedges?

Postby Tony Summerfield » 26 Jun 2008, 11:33

Enikyoga wrote:......he (Kenneth), ended up destroying most of EB's diaries that could have shed much light on her most productive writing period, that is between 1937 and 1967. Yes, it is not always to speak ill of the dead but at times it is better to set the record straight on some issues.


I don't think this is the case at all. Enid's diaries had little or nothing to do with what she was writing at the time - they simply mentioned the occasional visit to a publisher. Much of what she wrote was pretty mundane in the diaries that I have seen, and although it is a pity that so many were destroyed, I am not sure that they would have told us much of any significance. Her workbooks, that were also destroyed, would have been far more interesting to me.
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