She led me onto other biographies and people of the time, the first of which was her lover, Violet Trefusis, for whom she briefly left her husband.
Violet was the daughter of Mrs Keppel, who herself was the lover of the King, Edward VII. Mrs Keppel was the great grandmother of Camilla Parker-Bowles, and the King the great grandfather of Prince Charles. Apocrypichally, CP-B said to Charles when they first met, 'my great grandmother was your great great grandfather's mistress, so how about it?'
What an opener!
I bought this Victorian brown bear's head when I was 19, believing I would one day live in a castle. I named him Sackville. By my early 40s, it had become clear that I was more terraced or semi-detached material, which rarely feature minstrel's galleries, so he went off to live out his days in a stately home in the South West.
Anyway, to come back to the subject in hand, Vita was quite masculine in appearance and liked to dress as a man. This watercolour, by artist unknown, which lives in one of my old sketchbooks, shows Vita in pursuit of Violet. I produced a homage showing me and my cat Wellington. He lived to the ripe old age of 18.
|I still have that red dress, somewhere in the dressing up trunk. I must dig it out and give you a twirl if I can squeeze into it.
So I think it's fair to say my recent visit to Sissinghurst, the amazing garden Vita built in Kent with her husband Harold Nicholson, has been in the pipeline for quite some time.
|Me-made sheet sun dress and necklace, clogs by Lotta from Stockholm, and bag from lovely Krista
It was worth the wait.
Originally I had my doubts about visiting gardens in late September, but I needn't have worried. The weather was extremely kind and the planting is clever enough that there is still plenty of colour. I'm talking dahlias, woodland anenomes, decorative sages, lavenders, black eyed susan vines, roses even.
It is actually called Sissinghurst Castle, because that's precisely what it is: the reclaimed ruins of an Elizabethan castle. At one time it was used as a prison for French soldiers captured during the seven years' war.
When Vita and her family went to live there, there wasn't a lot remaining, but they lovingly put it back together. In an unconventional arrangement, Vita had her rooms in the tower, Harold had a cottage and their two sons lived in another little house. What a great arrangement!
|We went and visited a few other places, mainly house and gardens, on what was a rather cultural trip. I'll be writing about them soon. I hope you'll join me!