A Castle's Unfinished History : Restoring Vita Sackville-West's Celebrated Estate

Book - 2008
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A fascinating account from award-winning author Adam Nicolson on the history of Nicolson's own national treasure, his family home: Sissinghurst.

Sissinghurst is world famous as a place of calm and beauty, a garden slipped into the ruins of a rose-pink Elizabethan palace. But is it entirely what its creators intended? Has its success over the last thirty years come at a price? Is Sissinghurst everything it could be? The story of this piece of land, an estate in the Weald of Kent, is told here for the first time from the very beginning. Adam Nicolson, who now lives there, has uncovered remarkable new findings about its history as a medieval manor and great sixteenth-century house, from the days of its decline as an eighteenth-century prison to a flourishing Victorian farm and on to the creation, by his grandparents Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, of a garden in a weed-strewn wreck. Alongside his recovery of the past, Adam Nicolson wanted something else: for the land at Sissinghurst to live again, to become the landscape of orchards, cattle, fruit and sheep he remembered from his boyhood.Could that living frame of a mixed farm be brought back to what had turned into monochrome fields of chemicalised wheat and oilseed rape? Against the odds, he was going to try. Adam Nicolson has always been a passionate writer about landscape and buildings, but this is different. This is the place he wanted to make good again, reconnecting garden, farm and land. More than just a personal biography of a place, this book is the story of taking an inheritance and steering it in a new direction, just as an entrepreneur might take hold of a company, or just as all of us might want to take our dreams and make them real.
Publisher: Toronto, Ont. : McClelland & Stewart, c2008
ISBN: 9780771051302
Branch Call Number: 942.238 NIC 2008
Characteristics: 341 p. : ill, maps, plates


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WVMLStaffPicks Sep 10, 2014

Nicolson, a history and travel writer and the grandson of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, is the "resident donor" at Sissinghurst, the 400-acre property in Kent where his grandparents made their famous garden. Alongside The National Trust, which now owns and manages this popular tourist site, Nicolson has been working to restore the farm that existed in harmony with the garden during his grandparents' day. Nicolson's deep love for his family and for this bit of England drives his vision of Sissinghurst as more than just a beautiful garden, but a sustainable farm deeply rooted in the agrarian history of Kent.

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