Last week we looked at the most up to date information we had from Old Thatch gardens and got an idea of the kind of place the cottage and gardens are, but as mentioned we don’t know very much about Old Thatch in Enid Blyton’s own time.
Shall we have a look at what I’ve been able to find out?
Citation: Many thanks to the tireless and hard work of the Enid Blyton Society for uploading the periodicals of The Teachers World magazine for my research in this article.
Welcome to Old Thatch
In July 1929, Blyton moved into Old Thatch at Bourne End and wrote in her Teachers’ World column about the garden and how wonderful everything was. She describes the lily pond, the rose arbour, the tall yew hedges that still surround the gardens today, as are the trees that surround the garden and the brook at the bottom. So by the sounds of what Blyton wrote in that copy of Teachers’ World in 1929 the actual layout of the garden hasn’t changed all that much by and large. Possibly the only big alteration is that a second house was built on part of the garden at some point and this was only possible with a piece of the garden being sold off. You can read the whole piece either on the Enid Blyton Society page here, or look at the scan they made below.
How can you dispute such a perfect description of a writer’s garden, from their own pen indeed? You can check out the other pieces of writing Blyton did about Old Thatch here to find her other descriptions.
There were other bits and pieces that could help up piece together the garden at Old Thatch and there are some surviving photographs of the family there. One of the most famous pictures is of Blyton with Bobs the dog, sitting at the “wishing” well at the back of the house under Gillian’s bedroom window.
You can see from this picture that there is a lot of space behind the house at this point, no masses of beautiful flowerbeds as planted by Jackie Hawthorne and her husband when they owned the house and then opened the gardens. There is a lot of space in this garden, perfect for a new family and lots of pets.
Tess Livingstone wrote a book, Enid Blyton at Old Thatch where she goes around with Gillian Baverstock (Blyton’s oldest daughter) and discusses the garden, and the experiences had in it.
Fiona has read it properly whereas I only had time to skim through, but the idea that this book can allow us to have a glimpse of Blyton’s garden as it was way back when she was the owner is something to delight in. The added voice of Gillian as well is a perfect accompaniment to the book and the guide, with someone who actually remembers the garden and the joys it brought. Goodreads tells you more about the book here
My point being that all these things could have been researched up to make an entry into the The Writer’s Garden by Jackie Bennett to add such a beloved children’s author to the book where so many other prolific authors are mentioned and looked into. All right, so my blogs haven’t been the extensive ones you’d have from Fiona, but this is just minimal digging to show that there is enough to not leave Blyton out of these kinds of books.
What do you think?