The Garden Museum

Some exhibitions, especially those national museum ‘blockbusters’, are just too unwieldy but the bijou exhibition Fashion and the Garden occupied just over half an hour of my visit the the Garden Museum on Thursday. Just a short walk along the Albert Embankment (opposite The Houses of Parliament) from Westminster Tube Station, the Garden Museum is right next door to Lambeth Palace, the official London residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury. GM exterior Formerly known as the Museum of Garden History, The Garden Museum is based in the deconsecrated parish church of St Mary-at-Lambeth. I’d met up with my friend Rosanna (the mosaics maker) with whom I had recently been to see The Isabella Blow Show at Somerset House. Garden Museum Church

Inside the Garden Museum with Rebecca Louise Law Installation

After morning coffee in the Museum Cafe (we couldn’t resist a tiny home-cooked apple tart as well – all the food served looked very acceptable!) we headed under Rebecca Louise Law’s installation ‘The Flower Garden Display’d’ for the Fashion and the Garden exhibit that I had read about recently in the press. Booklet

The Accompanying Booklet

Put together by Nicola Shulman, sister of British Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman, the displays cover fashion and garden connections between the 17th and 21st centuries.

TV Introduction

unknow artist-796785

This portrait of Lettice Newdigate (1608) by an unknown artist is the first known example of a Knot Garden in art.

Influences of gardens on fashion extend over time from knot gardens reproduced through embroidery on clothing to Philip Treacy hats such as the Orchid.


Philip Treacy Orchid Hat

I noted that an interest in flowers is a very English characteristic. They have featured in English clothing designs throughout the centuries where they are absent, for example, in France. There were exquisitely embroidered gloves and pockets; flowers feature in the silk designs of Anna Maria Garthwaite and other 18th century Spitalfields silk weavers; phaeton carriages were built very high so that owners and their families and guests could drive around their landscape parks and show off; and then there are the clothes that we wear when visiting gardens or even when gardening.

It’s a small show but perfectly formed.

We had time to visit the permanent collection – gnomes; gardening tools from trowels to lawnmowers; rare books; paintings such the recently acquired ‘Portrait of a Black Gardener‘ by Harold Gilman; posters, ephemera and garden seed packet displays.

Yates Seeds

Yates Seeds. No longer sold in the UK but still available in Australia and New Zealand.

The Museum’s garden was created in 1980. At its heart is a knot garden designed by the Museum’s President, The Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury (who was then also re-making the gardens at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire). The reason for the seventeenth-century spirit of the design is that our garden also houses the tomb of the great plant-hunters, gardeners and collectors, John Tradescant the Elder (c.1570-1638) and Younger (1608-1662), the rediscovery of which originally inspired the creation of a museum of garden history in the deconsecrated, and then derelict, church of St Mary-at-Lambeth.” From the Garden Museum website.

Tradescant Tomb

The Tradescant Tomb

In addition to the tomb and monument to the Tradescants is the tomb of Captain William Bligh of ‘The Bounty’.

Tomb of Bligh

Captain Bligh Tomb

“The Building Bears Strong Marks of the Ravages of Time and Presents an Extremely Picturesque Appearance” Astley Castle

Astley and Knot Garden

Astley Castle and Elizabethan Knot Garden

“The Building Bears Strong Marks of the Ravages of Time and Presents an Extremely Picturesque Appearance” Britton’s “Beauties of England and Wales“.

The Stirling Prize is the most prestigious prize for British architecture awarded annually :

to the architects of the building that has made the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture over the past year. The prize is for the best building in the UK by RIBA chartered architects and International Fellows, or in the rest of the EU by an RIBA chartered architect.”

The RIBA Stirling Prize was born in 1996 out of its predecessor The Building of the Year Award. The Building of the Year Award had been running since 1988 and the winner was chosen by the RIBA President from a handful of National Award winners. This was thought of as neither transparent nor democratic. The aim with the Stirling Prize was that the winner should be decided in an unbiased way, with different juries visiting the ‘midlist’ and shortlist.

The new prize was named after James Stirling, the great British architect who died in 1992. The aim was that the Stirling Prize would be for architecture what the Booker Prize was for literature, and a £20,000 cash prize for the winning architects made the prize covetable as well as prestigious.” [Source]

In 2012 I was fortunate enough to be invited by friends who are Patrons of The Landmark Trust to attend the celebration opening of Astley Castle in July 2012. Immediately on leaving the reception and arriving home I decided to book the castle for a week (Monday to Friday) in November 2013.

Here are some of the highlights and light effects from this unforgettable stay.

Arriving at Astley

Arriving at Astley

The Ruins

The Ruins

Sunlight after the rain

Sunlight after the rain

Outdoor Dining

Outdoor Dining

Dining table shadows

Indoor Dining



Kenilworth Castle

Castle Visiting – Kenilworth Castle

Gibside : “The Chapell, Greenhouse, Banquiting House, Bath, Gardens, and Walks, [and] pleasure grounds are all gone to Ruin.”

Last week I finished reading ‘Wedlock’ by Wendy Moore, subtitled on the cover ‘How Georgian Britain’s Worst Husband met his Match’. And what a tale it tells. It’s been recommended to me from several sources not least from Nilly Hall‘s wittily titled ‘Bowes and Cupid’s Arrows‘ published last February.


The book is the story of Mary Eleanor Bowes (1749-1800) daughter of the coal baron creator of “Gibside, a Georgian ‘grand design’ on a spectacular scale. The vision of coal baron George Bowes, the Palladian chapel is an architectural masterpiece, the stable block is a vibrant learning and discovery centre, and the once grand hall is now a dramatic shell. Gibside is also a haven for wildlife with red kites often circling in the skies above.” [NT]

Stable Block 2

The Stable Block

Gibside just a few miles from Newcastle is now the property of the National Trust. I have visited Gibside twice. The most recent time was just last December on my way to a course at Sage plc.

The Chapell

The Chapell


The Greenhouse or Orangery

Banqueting House

The Banquiting House

The water feature below the Banqueting House was an elegant octagonal pond built in the Greek style to add to the stately vistas. A fountain cooled he air and statues stood on the terraces above. The Banqueting House was restored by The Landmark Trust after many years of neglect. That same neglect has had some happy consequences for the pond. It is now a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its population of great crested newts. There are no plans to restore the Octagon Pond as any such work could destroy the habitat of these shy and rare creatures, as well as upsetting the many other types of bird and aquatic life that thrive here. [Extracted from the Information Board at the Pond]

A highly educated woman for her time Mary Eleanor’s father, George Bowes, died when she was 11 leaving her a vast fortune and prey to future gold-diggers. She married her first husband, John Lyon, the 9th Earl of Strathmore, in 1767, gave birth to five children in six years and was left a widow when Lyon died of tuberculosis in 1776.

Her second marriage to Andrew Robinson Stoney, an Anglo-Irish adventurer, was a total disaster. Self-styled ‘Captain’ Stoney duped Mary into marriage in 1777. From then on she was brutally treated and virtually held captive by him. Finally, she did manage to escape his clutches and even to divorce him – highly unusual at the time. He is the origin of the term “stony broke” – he died in a debtor’s prison – and he was the inspiration to William Makepeace Thackeray who learned of Stoney Bowes’ life story from the Countess’s grandson John Bowes and used it in his novel “The Luck of Barry Lyndon.” 

Stoney’s or Bowes’, as he is called in the book (in compliance with Mary’s father’s will, Stoney changed his name to Bowes his marriage to Mary Eleanor), greed was responsible for the ruin of Gibside and the destruction of thousands of trees on the estate .

It is ironic that Mary’s father constructed the Column of Liberty in the grounds of the estate when for several years during her marriage to Bowes she was very far from being at liberty.

Column of Liberty

The Column of Liberty at Gibside

An Invitation to View : Lukesland

In addition to a shared love of reading  Lynne (alias Dovegreyreader) and I have a love of houses and a nosey poke around in other people’s – especially the grander sort – when we get an opportunity. The chance arose when I was wondering how to belatedly celebrate her big birthday on our annual Devonshire Day Out.

dgr can't wait

Dovegreyreader can’t wait to get inside Lukesland

Then I remembered “Invitation to View” an organisation that brings together house owners and those inquisitive members of the public prepared to pay to have a private guided to tour of their homes followed by tea and cake or a light lunch by the fire or in the garden depending on the time of year. A small number of houses in Norfolk and Suffolk were included in the early years. This number has increased quite significantly and a few years ago The Southwest joined the group and there are now 23 houses in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset included in the scheme.

So,  a couple of weeks ago I extended An Invitation to View to Lynne who accepted right away and we made our arrangements to meet last Thursday. Meeting at 11.30 in a favourite cafe of ours in Ashburton – Moorish – we allowed ourselves an hour and a half to catch up on each other’s families and reading and what-not, to drink tea, eat soup and, oh dear, have the first cake of the day. (Well, we were celebrating a birthday – any old excuse will do when the Moorish Tunisian Orange Cake is winking at you!).

Comfortably sustained by soup and cake Lynne drove us to Ivybridge and up out of town onto the edge of Dartmoor to Lukesland; the house  we were booked to visit. From about 1.30pm the gardens were opened to us and the house tour began at 2.30pm.


Lukesland House and Garden

The gardens at Lukesland are generally open to the public in the spring and in the autumn. We thought there would be more autumn colour in early November than there was but nevertheless we enjoyed a chatty wander and took some photos as photography inside the house is not permitted.

Kitchen Garden

The Kitchen Garden

The Kitchen Garden was the main garden of the original Tudor estate. It was much reduced in size by the Victorian owners in order to build a drive between the house and the stables (under the clock in the photo). The garden produced vegetables for the family, the domestic staff and for the farm workers on the estate until the 1940s. Since 2005 parts of it have been let as allotments to local Ivybridge residents.

Lukeland sfrom garden


Milady and Doevgreyreader

Milady and Dovegreyreader at Lukesland

By 2.30 about 14 of us were assembled in Rosemary Howell’s sitting room waiting for the talk and tour to begin. Rosemary and her daughter-in-law Lorna welcomed us to the house and told us the brief history of the place.

The Place Names of Devon lists “Lukesland” as being derived from the family of John Lucas in the 1330 Lay Subsidy Rolls.”  There is evidence – written and in carved stonework – of settlement at Lukesland during and ever since Tudor times.  The Tudor house was called Lukesland Grove. In 1863 a new (the current) house was built of Dartmoor granite and Portland stone on a new site and in the popular Victorian Gothic style for William Edwin Matthews, as a base for hunting on the moor. “Around 1875, Matthews was obliged to sell Lukesland and it was bought by James and Barbara MacAndrew, who came from the family of the London-Liverpool shipping line of that name.”

Howard Howell, a Canadian who came to Britain with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War, worked locally in forestry and married a Welsh woman, Muriel Neale and they settled in Exeter later buying Lukesland. The estate was in its heyday before the Second World War.

A second phase of landscaping of the garden took place. A pond was dug (‘The Lower Pond’ as it is now), many waterfalls installed and three stone-arch bridges built (one, just below Rh. smithii, collapsed after a flood undermined the foundations in the early 1970s). A bathing pool was built on the island in front of the house, and a much bigger range of rhododendrons was planted, along with other shrubs and trees. Although the Victorians had planted some newly introduced exotic trees in the Cleave, including some Wellingtonias, this was the first time that the garden was really diversified. Many more flowering shrubs were available by the 1930s, and Howard was a forester who took a keen interest in them.”

Bridge and stream

Despite all the social changes in Britain since the War the Howell’s have lived on at Lukesland making changes and adapting the house and garden. Rosemary and her husband Brian moved in in 1975. Brian’s background was also in forestry. A lot of work needed to be done on the house. Brian died in 2003 and his son John and wife Lorna moved in in 2004. Adaptations include opening the gardens and tea room and letting holiday accommodation in out-buildings and in a wing of the house itself. [Adapted from Source]

Rosemary’s sitting room was in a separate wing of the house created by the insertion of a gothic-style but fully glazed door which separates it physically from the main body of the house. But done in this way I’m sure she still feels very much a part of the family.

We were then shown a larger sitting room and the big family kitchen created from a butler’s pantry and other servants’ quarters. It seems as if nothing is thrown away at Lukesland. Lorna joked as we moved from one scullery or dairy to the next that after the national collection of wallpapers we moved on to the national collection of flower vases. I kept making mental notes to self – get that loft and cellar cleared out!

Upstairs there seemed to be a multitude of bedrooms and bathrooms created from bedrooms all of which seem to be in use. There is also a separate apartment which is let a long-term holiday let. The house has a sheltered courtyard behind and here as well is the old billiard room and former nursery converted to a tea room and in use when the gardens are open.

Finally we returned to Rosemary’s sitting room where DGR remarked that the shabby, but not threadbare, rugs seem to be a feature of these old properties and I was able to tell her that the Landmark Trust would never use a new rug in an old property and that they have a huge store of suitably worn rugs ready to furnish future properties.

Tea and delicious home-baked cakes (yes, we carried on in the tea- and cake-tasting tradition established over the years) were served by the log fire and we discussed further what we had seen and how these lived-in houses are constantly evolving and adapting and how nice it was to see bookcases in every room, everyday objects and even imagining ourselves descending the stairs in Edwardian times as if we lived there!

Sky leaving Lukelands

Leaving Lukesland

Garden Walks in the City of London : Gardens, Inns and Alleyways

Meet At Chancery Lane Tube Station, Exit 3
Fridays at 12.00 Noon (accept Good Friday 29 March 2013).

A walk through London’s historic legal quarter, exploring glorious hidden gardens, distinguished and ancient buildings and hidden alleyways. Venture into a private world where few walkers stray – unless they have need of a lawyer!.
This walk includes steps and ends at the river near to Temple Tube Station.” [Source]

Staple Inn Garden

Staple Inn Courtyard Garden

This was our choice of activity when I met my sister in London on Friday. Eight of us, including three French women, turned up at Chancery Lane Tube Station at noon just as the rain was stopping and the skies were brightening. We met Jackie who was to lead the tour and she took us just behind the station and into Staple Inn garden.

Staple Inn

“Staple Inn was originally attached to Gray’s Inn, which is one of the four Inns of Court. The Inns of Chancery fell into decay in the 19th century. All of them were dissolved, and most were demolished. Staple Inn is the only one which survives largely intact. It dates from 1585.” [Source]

The name Staple Inn comes from the fact that the building (dating from 1585) was originally the wool staple where wool was taxed and weighed.

Grays Inn notice

There’s a lot of building work going on here so we didn’t tarry, just had a quick look round and then headed straight over Holborn and into our second garden that of Gray’s Inn.  “The Inn is known for its gardens, or Walks, which have existed since at least 1597.” [Source]

Bacon and Holker Library

Statue of Francis Bacon (1912) and The Holker Library

All of the gardens visited are havens of peace and tranquility and are just steps from the busy City of London streets. Gray’s Inn gardens are no exception. Dickens worked as a clerk here in 1828, and it features in several of his books including ‘David Copperfield’ and ‘Great Expectations’. There is a statue of Francis Bacon outside the Holker Library and through another arch and in another part of the gardens is an armillary – a form of sundial.

Peaceful Grays Inn

Peaceful Gray’s Inn Garden

Armillary consisting of hoops or rings

The Armillary

Grays Inn

The Gray’s Inn Walk

Back on the south side of Holborn is Lincoln’s Inn. Beautiful gardens surrounded by beautiful ancient buildings. On entering from Chancery Lane we came across a tiny ornate building which Jackie explained was the smallest City Grade 1 Listed building which had originally been built in 1860 for the man attending to law students’ horses while they worked : The Ostler’s Hut.

Lincolns Inn Ostler's Hut

The Ostler’s Hut, Lincoln’s Inn

Lincoln's inn

Lincoln’s Inn Chimney Pots

Lincoln's Inn rose

The Last Rose of Summer? Lincoln’s Inn

In Lincoln’s Inn we were able to go in the Chapel where the windows show the crests of the Treasurers from 1680 to the present day. The Treasurer is the head of the Inn and changes annually.

Lincoln's Inn Chapel

Lincoln’s Inn Chapel

L Inn Chapel window

Lincoln’s Inn Chapel Window

Lincolns Inn dry garden

Lincoln’s Inn tiny ‘dry’ courtyard Garden

Lincolns Inn herb plan

Lincolns Inn herbs

Lincoln’s Inn Herb Garden

LI looking back at herbs

Leaving Lincoln’s Inn

Leaving Lincoln’s Inn through Bell Yard we crossed Fleet Street and arrived at The Temple. It’s another fabulous place for a quiet picnic on a fine day although watch out for limited opening hours of some of the gardens.

Hare Court, within the Inner Temple, is home to several Chambers and some very comfortable benches.

Hare Court IT

Quiet Comfort in Hare Court

Hare Court Inner Temple Chambers

Inner Temple

IT gardens

Inner Temple garden

Inner t garden

Inner Temple Gardens

It was at this garden, almost on the banks of the River Thames, that our City Gardens Walk ended. What lovely and still colourful, despite the autumnal weather, tranquil oases for further discovery and appreciation. Just our kind of “Quiet London“. So it was back to the bustle of Fleet Street and off to find somewhere for a late lunch.

Lancaster II : The Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park and The Judges’ Lodging

A couple of weeks ago I paid my second visit to Lancaster. The main purpose of my visit last March was meet a friend and visit the newly refurbished Landmark property The Music Room. From the Music Room roof we could see across the city Williamson Park and the very prominent Ashton Memorial. We promised each other that later this year we’d meet again and visit the Memorial.

Ashton M Ashton M from MR

The Ashton Memorial from Music Room Window and Roof

So that is what we did. Again we met at the Railway Station and headed for coffee and catch-up. Then we took the bus out of the city and up Wyresdale Road to the entrance to the park. In September the weather proved to be drier and sunnier than in March.

Gate Williamson Park

Williamson Park Gates

The Ashton Memorial was commissioned by Lord Ashton as a tribute to his late wife. It was designed by John Belcher and completed in 1909, the restored interior hosts exhibitions and concerts and can be hired for private functions, including wedding ceremonies.

Externally, the dome is of copper. The main stone used in the building is Portland stone although the steps are of granite from Cornwall. Externally around the dome are sculptures representing “Commerce”, “Science”, “Industry” and “Art” by Herbert Hampton. The interior of the dome has allegorical paintings of “Commerce”, “Art” and “History” by George Murray. The ceiling is presently undergoing restorative works and has been covered with drapes.

Ground Floor Wedding Venue

The Ground Floor Wedding Venue

At around 150 feet tall it dominates the Lancaster skyline. The first floor outdoor viewing gallery provides superb views of the surrounding countryside and across Morecambe Bay.

[From The City Council website]

Ashton Memorial

The Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park

Hazy view to coast and Morecambe

Hazy View from the Gallery to Coast at Morecambe

It’s a lovely park with lakes and follies, woodland paths and a Butterfly House in the original Edwardian Palm House. We ate our lunch from the very nice Pavilion Cafe out on the sunny terrace.

Butterfly House

Butterfly House

We decided to walk back to the city centre and had a peep at the Lancaster Grammar School Hall and the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Peter on our way.

The Judges’ Lodging is so called because it was where until the 1970s the circuit judge would be accommodated during his visit to the Assize Court in the Castle.

Judges' Lodging

Discover the treasures of Lancaster’s oldest town house

Built in the centre of Lancaster against the backdrop of Lancaster Castle and Lancaster Priory this elegant, Grade I listed building is Lancaster’s oldest town house. The house was originally home to Thomas Covell, Keeper of Lancaster Castle and notorious witch hunter. Between 1776 and 1975 the house became an impressive residence for judges visiting the Assize Court at nearby Lancaster Castle.

The museum is now home to a renowned collection of Gillow furniture which is displayed in fabulous Regency period room settings, fine art and also the enchanting Museum of Childhood which explores toys and games from the 18th century to the present.”

[From the Judges' Lodging website]

Gillow Lancaster

Gillow Plaque

The former Gillow and Co. workshop and offices is next door to The Judges’ Lodging.  After our visit (No Photography Allowed) there was just time for a cup of tea outside the cafe below the Music Room in what is now called Lancaster’s “Coffee Quarter”.

Music Room Cafe

It was warm and sunny on our last visit!

Croome Park, Court and Church

Last Thursday I met up with a good friend of mine at Coleshill Parkway Station for a couple of days’ adventures in Evesham and Tewkesbury.

Croome Court

Croome Court

Our first port-of-call on meeting up was an hour’s drive away – the National Trust owned Croome Park and Court in Worcestershire. The park was the responsibility of ‘Capability’ Brown – he crops up everywhere, of course. The house has only been in the possession of the Trust for about 4 years. They have carried out an awful lot of work during that time and a lot more is ongoing. It will be interesting to revisit in a year or so to see what has been achieved/improved/changed using the £1.8m granted by the Heritage Lottery Fund under the programme “Croome Redefined”.

Coventry and Capability

When you arrive the visitor centre seems to occupy what appear to be black painted army Nissen huts but on closer inspection are in fact restored RAF buildings which once served the nearby airbase as their sick quarters.  Exhibition rooms tell the story of RAF Defford.


After our picnic we headed into the Park and the first stop was the church. The church of St Mary Magdelene, Crome d’Abitot is cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust and just celebrated its 250th anniversary in June. Gothick in style the building, like the house, is attributed to Robert Adam.

Croome d'Abitot Church

From the church, as time was limited and the house would close to the public at 4pm (the park stays open until 5.30), we made straight for Croome Court itself, missing a large selection of follies and the lake.

Croome Park

The Park from the Church Door

Church from shrubbery

The Church from the Evergreen Shrubbery

Our walk from the church to the house did take us past some follies notably The Temple Greenhouse and the Dry Arch Bridge. We noted Coade Stone had been used in several places. And as we walked along I was reminded of Stowe Landscape Gardens in Buckinghamshire and indeed it turns out that Brown moved from Stowe down to Croome.

Temple Greenhouse

The Temple Greenhouse

Dry Arch Bridge

The Dry Arch Bridge with Coade Stone Façade and Keystones

To me the house was a refreshing change from the usual ornate furniture, furnishings and priceless contents and restricting ropes. You could go anywhere and touch everything. Of course, there was nothing of value to touch and that may change as renovations and restorations continue but for the moment it suited me fine to read about the house and family; to listen to recordings of workers and hear what the inhabitants might have said; to dress up; contribute a few pieces to a jigsaw puzzle.

Donor Flowers

Flowers – given by a generous donor


The Croome Park Jigsaw

Listen and read

Read and hear about former inhabitants

Croome Room

A Corner of Croome

Croome Bookshop

Bookshop Browsing in the Basement

One of the rooms is now a tea room with some tables outside but we only had time for a quick browse and buy in the secondhand book shop before heading out into the park and a longish walk around the perimeter via the Rotunda and Park Seat.


The Rotunda and Ha-ha (Cedars planted by Brown)

Park Seat

Park Seat has the best views across the Park and the Court

We managed to leave at about 5.30pm knowing that we had left a few things to enjoy on a future visit!

Houghton Revisited : Masterpieces from The Hermitage

Houghton Revisited

Fellow WordPress member Visiting Houses and Gardens wrote about her visit to Houghton Hall and Gardens and remarked that had the pictures not all been sold she would have given the house a five star rating. Well, this summer the pictures, although sold to Catherine the Great, have all been re-hung in the exact locations from which they were lifted 250 years ago. This unique exhibition is the result of a collaboration between the Hall and the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and a great deal of work has resulted in an exceptional country house visit.

Houghton Hall

Houghton Hall

Last Saturday my sister and brother-in-law and I studied the Houghton Hall and other websites in order to get a foretaste of the show we were to visit the next afternoon.

No photography is allowed in the Hall so my pictures show the beautiful garden. Luckily we arrived in good time before our timed ticket slot and had time to inspect the Walled Garden in all its glory and have a cup of tea before the highlight of the visit: Houghton Revisited.

Lavender knot garden

Corner of pool with hedging

Garden arch

Near the beehives

Near the Beehives

Jeppe Heins Waterflame

Waterflame by Jeppe Hein


And here is the flame (source)

Before leaving the Houghton Estate I just had time to take a quick look at the Landmark Trust property : Houghton West Lodge. Not surprisingly it’s fully booked until October.

Houghton West Lodge

Houghton West Lodge

Down The Magic Mountain via The Thomas-Mann-Way


On my bookshelves at home there’s a lovely pristine Everyman hardback edition of Thomas Mann’s “The Magic Mountain”  had I not had a weight limit restriction on my bag I may well have brought it with me but alas it was just too heavy to contemplate bringing. [Note. Yes, yes I know all about Kindles and the like but having made the comparison with real books have decided that they are just not for me] Where else would be the perfect place to read The MM but here within a William Tell’s arrow flight of the town of Davos where the ‘action’ of the book is set? Davos is just 20 miles away from Schiers.

Searching online for “Davos Thomas Mann” I found this :

A path has been created in commemoration of and in the name of the significant writer Thomas Mann. This path connects the centre points of his novel “The Magic Mountain”. With the novel, Davos has secured its place in world literature. The work contributed to the high level of fame enjoyed by Davos as a spa and holiday destination.

Even today, the “Magic Mountain” draws numerous culture enthusiasts to Davos, on the hunt for the main centre points of the novel of the same name by Thomas Mann. They can now be inspired by the Thomas-Mann-Way, which runs from the Waldhotel Davos (former woodland sanatorium) at 1620 m above sea level to the Schatzalp, 1880 m above sea level. Along the 2.6 km path are ten signs, which act as “literary stations” and provide information on the connections between Davos and the works of Thomas Mann. High points of the path include the “favourite place of Hans Castorp”, the hero of the novel, whilst the way ends at Thomas-Mann-Platz on the Schatzalp, which has been established behind the botanical garden Alpinum Schatzalp.

Thomas Mann (1875–1955) came to Davos from the 12th May to the 15th June 1912, in order to visit his wife Katia, who was being treated at the woodland sanatorium. During this time he took many walks around the area above the woodland sanitorium, an area through which the Thomas-Mann-Way runs. Thomas Mann described his impressions of Davos in the novel “The Magic Mountain”, which was published in 1924.”  Source

Great! I thought the ideal excursion for the afternoon. And indeed vary many things about it were ideal but not, I may say, the Thomas-Mann-Way. The website for Davos/Klosters is excellent so I had expected to pick up printed information at the Railway Station Tourist Information Office. Instead I had blank looks and was issued with a crummy map.

crummy map

I had remembered some aspects of the walk from the website but obviously not everything. I didn’t commit the map to memory. I wish I had as I can now see where I went wrong and could kick myself. As you can see from the sign at the top there are no arrows to indicate the route so there’s a bit of guesswork involved. As the starting point was quite a walk away I decided to take the funicular up to the end of the walk and find my way down in reverse. So I guess that was my mistake – but an easy one to make!

Berghotel Scahtzalp

On arriving at Schatzalp there is the Berghotel in all its Art Nouveau [Jugendstil] glory. I wrote about the Alpinum here yesterday.

The Berghotel Schatzalp

It still has the look of a Sanatorium and air is fresh and clean and pure. Even at 8C it was fine as it was sheltered. The Hotel reception also did not have much information about TM but the kindly receptionist allowed me to wander around and take some snaps and sold me a couple of postcards and indicated the start of the TMWay.

Dining Room 1

Dining Salon 2

The Dining Room


The Reception/Lobby

Art Deco fireplace

Art Nouveau Fireplace in a Meeting Room

The hotel games room

The Original Hotel Games Room

I wished I had taken tea here on the verandah but I’d decided to do so at the end of the walk at the Waldhotel down in Davos. I thought they would maybe have more information on TM and the Magic Mountain/Davos connection. The only way to find out will be to go back again on another day!

The verandah

The Verandah where tea is served

The view