5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful and unusual,
This review is from: Felbrigg: The Story of a House (National Trust) (Misc. Supplies)
This is a beautiful little book, written by a learned, thoughtful man with a genuine feeling for his subjects. It is fallacious to expect that people brought up in beautiful settings necessarily know anything about them, but the author of this book knows a very great deal and has made it his business to find out all he can. However he wears his learning lightly.
Ketton-Cremer knew what medieval sedilia were, what happened to them in the chapel at Fellbrigg, and what role the family of Anna Thellusson (who has a tomb in that chapel) played in English history. He is very familiar with the Pastern Papers, and quotes amusingly from them (but not too lengthily). His architectural descriptions of the house he eventually inherited are delicate and precise.
For me, however, the most memorable passage in the book concerns the author's own brother, who died, as we are told in a powerfully charged chapter ending, on Crete during the last war.
Felbrigg's story is, in fact, full of sadness and subtly demonstrates the vanity of human wishes - love ruined by disease, inherited conditions, and shame, and - perhaps - the arduous responsibility of caring for a lovely, fragile property on one's own, with all one's dearest family gone.
There are lots of books about greater and lesser stately homes, but most of them are dull and prolix without being in any way instructive. This one is a memorable exception, and a gem to be treasured.