The Mystery of the Daffodils at Monks House in Rodmell

I have sadly neglected this blog in favour of my other one. Today I am stating my intention to change that, with this short post.

It isn’t a lack of interest. I have several half-written posts for this blog. Interruptions arrive, and then the posts get filed half completed. I think maybe I am aiming to write too much each time. For the time being, I will focus upon fragments and moments; on small thoughts rather than on longer arguments.

Please take this photo of some incredibly pale and delicate daffodils in my garden as a frail flag, heralding further musings from me.

Spring 2012 in Littondale

Daffodils in the garden

They remind me of a painting on the wall of the bedroom at Monk’s House, in Rodmell, Sussex. The home of Virginia Woolf, or one of them. I saw the painting many years ago, when I looked around the house on a summer afternoon. The weather was so english-country-garden perfect as to give the experience a vivid, sensual and almost unreal quality in my memory to this day.

As I walked into the cool, plain bedroom, I felt the awe of entering such a private space made public, a space which had belonged to a writer whom I have admired since adolescence. I happened to be alone for a few moments, the other tourists having melted away behind me, in amongst the thick clouds of white roses maybe, or perhaps they were sitting entranced beneath the densely loaded branches of the enormous mulberry tree that dominated the garden outside. I stood in the silent room, and I remember feeling a wave of longing. To only have such a space as this for imagining, writing, reading. And then I turned, and I saw the small painting on the wall. It was of a vase of ivory-green daffodils, or at least that is their colour in my memory. It was their plainness and purity, reflecting that of the bedroom, which made me gasp in wonder at the time.

When I saw these similarly pale daffodils in my own garden this spring, I felt the same gladness of heart; the same urge towards contemplation, solitude, peace.

I wonder if anyone knows who the daffodils at Monk’s House were painted by? I might have noted it down at the time, but if I did, the notebook or scrap of paper is probably lost, or hidden amongst the thousands of other small bits of paper I have scribbled things on over the years, and then tipped from my handbag into files or old shoe boxes. I’ve searched the web for the answer with no result, although I did find a photo of the bedroom itself, in which you can just see the painting, on the right, above the bed (you must scroll down a little to find it). Does anyone know the answer to the mystery?

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