This is England proclaimed Shane Meadows in his autobiographical film of 2006. An England of Thatcherism, skinheads, violence, racism and drug abuse. An England seemingly at odds with the musical movement of the time; the New Romantics, yet the very existence of these 80’s dandies was doubtless a reaction to the realities around them.
And yet there is more to England. Perhaps its my middle class sensibilities (though I’m very actually of a working class background) but in my travels this week I have seen much to be proud of. I’m referring to our heritage.
This is more than just the historic structures of Southampton. In journeying to my client’s place of work, and then on to a meeting in Bristol I witnessed so much to enjoy (though rarely with time to stop and photograph!)
Rolling green fields and hedgerows, beautiful thatched houses, glistening canals, Marlborough, Brunel’s Great Western we’re just some of the joys to be experienced along the way.
Luckily I did have a moment or two to capture some.
Bursledon Mill and the Clifton Suspension Bridge were good enough (though the restoration of the former robbed me of its full-sailed glory) but the true gem was at the end of my trip.
In the mid 19th century, a wealthy London businessman was looking for a second home in the Bristol area. William Gibbs, reputedly the richest non-nobleman in England at the time, bought a Georgian mansion and began remodelling it to his tastes. (Gibbs considerable wealth arose from his guano business, making him a precursor to Ian Fleming’s Dr No ).
The outcome was an English Gothic masterpiece, though it didn’t last. Three generations later, the last of his line died in the house, living in just three of the hundred or so rooms and allowing the rest to decay. A more extreme parallel to the venue of my recent nude shoot.
Enter the National Trust who saved the property, through an enormous and urgent fundraising appeal. Rumour has it that they were bidding against Kylie, Madonna and Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber, any of whom may have saved the structure, but perhaps not its contents which are of course critical elements in its history.
Visits to the interior are strictly controlled so as to balance the desires of visitors with the needs of conservation, so on the day I was there, only the grounds and gardens were accessible. No matter. They were well worth the visit and maybe I’ll come back to see the rest.
This is Tyntesfield