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Saturday, May 8, 2010

The House That Time Forgot

I'd thought to blog about the election result, but everybody else is doing that - suffice to say that perhaps Nick Clegg should remember the fate of the last Liberal-Conservative coalition (1915-22), which divided the party for decades and contributed largely to its decline to the dire position when it had only six MPs, from which it has spent the last 30 years slowly recovering. I also wondered about commenting on some of my most recent reading, but this would probably have been far too vitriolic for such a genteel, sheltered place as the Internet; suffice to say that there is a book which shall remain nameless, by an author with a respectable pedigree in both fiction and non-fiction, which  aims to provide a broad overview of the history of a well-known family but manages to include a whole string of howlers that would disgrace even the densest schoolboy I ever taught (who's probably a merchant banker or an MP now...) Here's the classic, referring to the events of the second Anglo-Dutch war: 'The Dutch sailed up the Medway and towed away the Royal Charles. Recovery the next year, when Monk and Rupert fought a battle in the Downs and drove the Dutch fleet back to its own ports, scarcely assuaged the bitterness of the previous year's humiliation.' Anybody who can invent a naval battle in 1668, the year after peace had been signed, and any publisher that permits such crassness to reach the reading public, deserves to be named and shamed, but this blog would never stoop (quite) so low.

Instead, I thought I'd post some pictures of Derwydd, from what was evidently a specially commissioned photograph album of 1947 that I acquired on Ebay a few years ago. One of the oldest properties in Wales, it was transferred through heiresses for centuries, always staying with descendants of the earliest known owner, until finally sold in 1998 when the contents were auctioned off. In the 18th century it was a property of the Stepneys, an intriguing and colourful family whose history I'm writing, and passed in the 19th century to their descendants the Gulstons, who believed themselves the rightful heirs to the Ruthvens, Earls of Gowrie, subjects of my forthcoming book Blood of Kings. The bed dates from c.1500 and belonged to Sir Rhys Ap Thomas (1448-1525), one of Henry VII's most loyal Welsh allies and who effectively ruled South Wales on behalf of that monarch and his son. I'll aim to post more pictures of Derwydd in the near future.


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