Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The real Brideshead

Have you read this month's Vanity Fair (they have a great website btw!)? Featured is a book called 'Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead' by Paula Byrne and I can't wait to read it. As most of us know, Brideshead Revisited was highly autobiographical for Waugh and this book digs into the details. I can't wait to read it!
I had to include this photo of Waugh from his wedding to Laura Herbert as it was so charming. How elegant is Laura - so wispily pretty and that dress is very modern!
You may recognize Madresfield Court, the real Brideshead, at the top of this post as well as the stairhall above, as it has been used in numerous masterpiece theater mystery episodes. I love this room! Cozy yet grand, mixing the best of the antique with the new -photographs and portraits, electric light and fireplace. During World War II, the house was planned as a place of evacuation for the Royal family.Here is Hugh Lygon, the 'real' Sebastian -quite dashing in his double breasted suit and slicked back hair- but not quite as handsome perhaps as Anthony Andrews who played the part in Brideshead revisited from 1981.
Above is Lord Beauchamp, the inspiration for Lord Marchmain, who was in exile from England like in the book, but for much more scandalous reasons! The real story behind this family was even more extraordinary than depicted by Waugh in Brideshead, hopefully this new book is a good read. I'll let you know!

See great 3-d tours of Madresfield HERE

All images from Vanity Fair


Karena said...

Stefan, great post and images. Love the history behind the Book, I will go and read it this week!

Art by Karena

ArchitectDesign™ said...

I hope you do,Karena! The book isn't realized till March 30th -i have my copy pre-ordered on amazon!

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

I have the book Madresfield on the stack to read-perhaps a good pre read.

Scot Meacham Wood said...

o.m.g. - I can't WAIT to read this - thank you SO much for posting.

The Shiny Pebble said...

Stefan, you have been tagged! I hope you choose to play. :)

Hels said...

I usually feel claustrophic in the main lounge room of 19th century houses, even grand houses.

But Madresfield Court's lounge room (is that what you would call it?) is large enough to allow for different activities at the same time. I can imagine someone reading quietly next to the book shelves, someone entertaining guests in front of the fireplace, somebody else perhaps sewing or writing letters at the desk.

Probably the sky lights add to the sense of airiness. Were they pre-war, do you know?

columnist said...

Hels, you would call it a saloon, strangely enough. Lord Beauchamp had a predeliction for pretty valets and footmen, who were employed in his household for that very reason. A scandal indeed, which was instigated by Beauchamp's brother-in-law, the Duke of Westmnister, and may have included the support of king, who was concerned about the "fast" ways of one of his sons.

Lord Cowell said...

Thanks for alerting us to this book. I shall seek it out this weekend. Great post. Oh, BTW, I sympathise with you about the 'manbag'. They are very useful. D.

Leah Moss said...

Brideshead is one of my favorite books! I can't wait to discuss it with you. So nice to learn some history behind it.

Chateaux Interiors said...

Great artcile in VF and an excellant post.....and the book was phenom!

Anonymous said...

I just finished the book and now have to go back and re-read Brideshead and a Handful of Dust(I did that for A-Level, a lot of years ago).

Anyway the book is a great read, although somewhat an apologist for Waugh's brown-nosing. Too many comments to the effect " not the action of a brown-noser". I am paraphrasing btw. But methink the lady doth protest too much.

What a sad family - what victims of their times.

Sorry can't be bothered to go to the palaver of a google sign up so this is anonymous

burnside said...

Waugh and Nancy Mitford's letters touch on characters in Brideshead a little. Aside from the Lygons, a few other families contributed bits of character or personal foibles to their fictional counterparts. All recognizable to their contemporaries, though not always to us.

Andrew Cavendish, Eddie Sackville-West, Harold Acton, Diana Mosley and a host of others provided physical, conversational, situational and gestural traits to the "cast" of Brideshead.

As to the house, Madresfield surely figured - as did Chatsworth and a few others.

Waugh despised obvious "keys", and enjoyed placing the personality of a familiar person into the body of another who found himself in the situation of yet a third. It seems a very large number of prominent families were certain they were, in fact, a template for the Marchmains. Most likely many of them were.

Never Enough Books said...

Received Mad World from Amazon UK two days ago and have not put it down for more than a few minutes. It is fascinating. I, too, will go back and re-read Handful of Dust and Brideshead! Another excellent book is Madresfield, One House, One Family, One Thousand Years by Jane Mulvagh.