Mrs Bee Wickens (nee Beasley), Senior Historical
Advisor, Friends of Elvaston
For two years was
I love its every feature.
Every stick and stone
I love the grounds around it,
The lake, the rocks, the trees;
Its shrubs, pagoda, hedges,
They all, do me, much please.
The crown arch, standing proudly,
Of gold and Irish yew;
The 'Golden Gates' from Madrid,
Albeit they now are blue;
What save your previous glory
Now doth fade away;
The majesty of your design
For me, will last alway!
The Californian Redwoods
That head each green parade;
The "Monkey Puzzle", on the straight ,
All are, to me, first grade!
The Lebanon Cedars on the lawn,
By 'Capability' given,
Still stand proud and raise the tone,
For which he and Barron had striven.
The Rhododendrons, Daffodils
That welcome in the Spring;
The lovely Parterre garden-
I must it's praises sing.
Although I knew the maze before,
With happy memories from days of yore;
Also the garden by its side where,
Italian-style, Venus and friends did bide.
The house itself? There hangs a tale
`Twould take too long to tell;
'Tis fine indeed and, in its day,
Had chandeliers as well
The stairway, with its balustrade,
Curved round in lacy splendour;
Marble-white the steps we trod,
Watched o'er by eyes so tender.
For, portraits ranged along the wall
All up the lower side,
Whilst statues in their niches,
Pure white bodies tried to hide
The rooms were large and spacious,
With windows tall and wide,
Giving us a splendid view
Of the beauteous grounds outside
And, down below, the Gothic hall
Proclaimed the family's crest,
Spears and daggers were displayed
To look their very best
Knights in armour stood on plinths
Ready for the fray,
Whilst swords adorned gold pillars,
To keep the enemy at bay.
But oh! The magic of it,
Especially at night,
Upon the roof-top, towards the lake,
it was an eerie sight
To see the mists arising
And swirling from the lake,
And hear the rasping call
Of a late-abroad corn-crake
Then, a wild cock-pheasant
Would make his lonely call,
As I turned away, quite fearfully,
To return into the hall,
To tread the empty corridors
Of that lonely upper floor,
One felt the ghostly presences
Of those that were no more!
The maid within the Linen Room,
One feared, when passing by
That she'd appear with guilty stealth,
For the baby she made die!
Though, to take the other passage,
Was spookier by far,
With its narrow creaking floorboards,
Twisty stairs and door ajar!
That was where the panelled room
Hid a tinv secret door,
Which led down a narrow stairway
To the back of the ground floor,
Above the ancient drawing room,
`Tis the oldest part of all,
Dating from the earliest days
And the original old hall.
But I never heard the huntsman
They say clatters o'er the stones
As through the courtyard he did ride,
A-shaking his old bones!
Just the clock o' mornings,
Which told us when to rise
And hurry round into the church,
With sleep still in our eyes!
Oh, yes! It was a wondrous place
To live and stay awhile,
I never will deny the love
I have, for that fair pile!
The memories and atmosphere
Will stay my whole life through,
Though there is change and much has gone,
Oft, my acquaintance, I renew.
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