by Julie Heginbotham
To any Enid Blyton fan, Green Hedges, Enid’s home in Beaconsfield from 1938 to 1968 was the most famous address known to them.
On all of my 60s hardback dust jackets of the Famous Five by Hodder & Stoughton, is part of that famous address on a letter heading on the rear cover.But it wasn’t until many, many years later, as an adult, that I was able to see exactly what Green Hedges looked like, and that was from a black and white photo in a book titled The Enid Blyton Dossier by Tony Summerfield and Brian Stewart. I loved the house as soon as I saw that photo, a lovely architect designed house of character with a partial mock Tudor look. The saddest part for me was the photo was an auction one, for the house stood empty, alone and deserted of love, waiting for someone to buy it and bring it back to life once more. But even more sadness was to fall on Green Hedges, for it was purchased by developers and was demolished in 1973 to make way for a housing development, which is there now to this day, on Blyton Close. For me two words describe what happened to Green Hedges, and those words are ‘criminal’ and ‘greed’!
But I could see the beauty of that house, and it inspired me so much that I just had to paint a watercolour from the photo. I took advice of the colours from Barbara Stoney’s book Enid Blyton the Biography and Imogen Smallwood’s book A Childhood at Green Hedges. When the watercolour was finished, I then had a Wentworth wooden jigsaw of 250 pieces made up from the painting.
I took the jigsaw to an Enid Blyton Day in 2009 and happily for me, Imogen Smallwood, Enid’s youngest daughter, bought one. The following year at the 2010 Enid Blyton Day I met Imogen once again, and she came up to me and said – “Julie, thank you so much for the jigsaw, I spent a lovely few hours during the winter months doing it. It was so pleasurable.” You can imagine just how overjoyed I was at Imogen’s words to me.
I have been to Beaconsfield, and stood at Blyton Close, where Green Hedges once proudly stood, and have walked a short way down Penn Road to see if the house that stood next door to Green Hedges – Upton Leigh – was still standing. It was. I took a photo of the entrance to Upton Leigh, just as a reminder that it once was a neighbour to Green Hedges.
Green Hedges may not be around any more, but I see it every day as it hangs on my wall, a reminder of one of the most famous houses in the literary world.
A very nice article, which I enjoyed reading, Julie. Your watercolour and jigsaw of Green Hedges are both superb. I also felt extremely sad when I visited Blyton Close and thought of the lovely house that once stood there. It’s terrible that it was demolished in 1973 to make way for a housing development. Green Hedges would have made a wonderful visitor centre for the many Enid Blyton devotees.
What a wonderful talent you have, Julie and how well you have captured
Green Hedges. If it no longer exists in life it does exist in your watercolour.
I have been fortunate enough to procure one of Julie’s wonderful watercolour jigsaws. I was devastated when I realised that Green Hedges had been demolished and felt sickened when I watched the trailer showing it being brutally torn apart. If Julie – given her artistic talent – ever decides to undertake a similar project on Old Thatch, I will be first in the queue to purchase the puzzle. As an avid collector of early ‘Famous Five’ books with dust jackets, it is so special and personal to see ‘Green Hedges’ at the top of the letter at the back of each book, almost – as it were – creating an illusion that the book had been sent directly from Enid Blyton’s own home to the owner of the book. Enid Blyton knew how to relate to her young readers, making them feel a part of the world that she so lovingly created.