Tuesday, April 10
MELFORD HALL, Suffolk, UK
Sir William Cordell acquired Melford after the Dissolution of the Monasteries and entertained Queen Elizabeth 1 there in 1578, a stained glass window now marks her visit.
Since 1786 Melford Hall has been the home of the Hyde Parkers, a distinguished naval family who fought hard and died for their country. Naval art decorate the walls and spoils of battles fill the house. In 1942 fire struck Melford but recovery was quick and a repaired Melford was transferred to the National Trust in 1960.
In the guide book I purchased during my visit, Sir Richard Hyde Parker speaks of growing up at Melford, with memories dating back as far as 1942, watching the house burning as a child of five years. He speaks so warmly of Melford and one feels a true 'family' atmosphere within his words. I am sorry to say I did not feel this warmth at Melford on my visit, instead the house, despite it's treasures and memories, felt empty and cold. Doorways were roped off forbidding access to the very few rooms on show making it difficult to see anything among the crowds that had all piled in together as the large Tudor doors were opened at 1.30pm. Such a large house with such a wonderful history, I was disappointed to find that the Beatrix Potter room was so small but to be able to look upon many original watercolour works and notebooks in her hand more than supplemented the size of the room.
Beatrix Potter was a cousin of Ethel, Lady Hyde Parker, the Grandmother of the present Baronet. Lady Ulla Hyde Parker refers to her as 'Cousin Beattie' and remembers her drawing some of the Jeremy Fisher illustrations at Melford. Potter's work is so fine I would find it hard to believe she worked with any other size of brush than a 000, such amazing detail and character, perfection gained from a timeless study of nature.
I felt Melford needed more than it could offer, it watched as visitors filled it and still longed for a family to feed it's walls with love.