A full coachload of members left Worthing on the afternoon of 27th April for the scenic drive to Leith Hill Place, the childhood home of Ralph Vaughan Williams. I went in first and the delicious smell of freshly made cakes and scones was overwhelming - they lived up to expectation later!
We all assembled for a short introductory talk by Natalie Savage, the curator, who told us about the Wedgwood family, of porcelain fame, who owned it and the connection with Charles Darwin who visited frequently as well as Vaughan Williams history. It was given to the National Trust in 1945 but tenanted by the Wedgwood family and used as a school for some years. It was finally opened to the public in 2013 and much has been done to restore some rooms but others are in sad need of some TLC.
The enthusiasm and knowledge of the two volunteers on duty was tremendous. One escorted groups of 16 around the attics, in different rooms playing recordings giving details of various stages of RVW’s life from the nursery through school and university, on to his war service then to his later years and finally his death. All the time looking out at a view which stretched for about 20 miles!
The other volunteer played RVW’s music on the piano he used to compose various pieces and spoke about the various influences which prompted certain pieces of music, not all to today’s taste!
He was obviously a musically gifted child who would practice every morning on the organ in the hall, which needed someone to pump very hard; all the servants found “urgent” jobs to do now to avoid being chosen for this task!
I particularly liked the “timeline” which gave details of national and international importance at various stages of Vaughan Williams life which were reflected in his work at the different periods.
We were free to wander throughout the house and garden at will to see all the memorabilia and to go in for tea which was truly excellent after which we all enjoyed the journey home.
I think several members appreciated having an afternoon visit. Thank you, Joan for organising this, maybe to be repeated sometime.