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Tony Grist

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Penshurst Place [Sep. 10th, 2007|09:51 am]
Tony Grist
I last visited Penshurst Place in the 1960s. My mother still has the guidebook we bought on that occasion. It contains a  photo of Viscount de L'Isle- all shiny faced and wavy-haired like the Tory politician he was- sitting on a sofa surrounded by his adoring wife and children. I suppose it was still quite a new thing then for a stately home to be open to the paying public and we- the aforesaid paying public- were meant to feel honoured that these gracious, aristocratic  people were inviting us into their home.

The cost of entry was three shillings and sixpence. Ailz tells me that translates to seven and a half pence in today's money.

Admission to the house and gardens now costs £7.00. I suppose we could have afforded it but we weren't going to and- besides- they wouldn't let us take the dog in.

Scratch around under all the titles the De L'Isles have accumulated down the ages and you'll find a family called Sidney. They've been on the scene- and bossing us around by right of blood- since the time of Henry VIII. The most famous of them was Sir Philip Sidney, Elizabethan poet, statesman, soldier, hero, who died while still a golden youth at the battle of Zutphen.   I grew up in a time when Sir Philip was still being paraded in front of the youngsters as the all time model of the gallant English gentleman. What we weren't told was that he was bisexual and suffered from ferocious acne. I don't suppose today's kids have even heard of him.

We walked the dog round the car park and then we drove round the perimeter in the car and I took photographs through the fence. 


[User Picture]From: sovay
2007-09-10 03:34 pm (UTC)
I don't suppose today's kids have even heard of him.

I believe he appears as a minor character in Elizabeth Goudge's Towers in the Mist (1938), which is where I would have first encountered him. I'm not sure if that counts as today, though.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-09-10 07:13 pm (UTC)
I don't know when I first met him. My Granny used to live in that part of Kent so he was always sort of in the air- along with Winston Churchill, General Wolfe and Vita Sackville West.
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[User Picture]From: currawong
2007-09-11 10:01 am (UTC)
i had the innestimible, nay almost terminal pleasure of being presented to Viscount de L'isle when I was a slip of a scout and he was Governor-General of Australia, though from his natural hauteur one would have thought him Emperor of the Universe. I had to recite a famous and dreadful patriotic poem for him and thousands of scouts formed into a gigantic fleur-de-lis ...or was it a fleur de l'isle?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-09-11 10:34 am (UTC)
I understand Viscount D'L'Isle was the only man in the history of the world to be both a Garter Knight and a holder of the Victoria Cross. I suppose it's no wonder he fancied himself.
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[User Picture]From: currawong
2007-09-11 10:54 am (UTC)
These were indeed important achievements, but far more important than these credentials in those days, was the fact that he was not one of those awful colonials.
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