Monday, 7 June 2021

"The Orchard"




A short riverside stroll, a quick cycle ride or a gentle punt along the River Cam takes you away from the hustle of Cambridge to "The Orchard" in Grantchester; an oasis of calm, that has been an essential part of Cambridge life for over 120 years. The history of "The Orchard" began in 1897 when a group of Cambridge students asked the landlady of Orchard House if they could take tea in the orchard rather than on the front lawn as was their custom. The practice soon became the norm and the place grew in popularity with students. The next phase in the history of "The Orchard" began when the poet Rupert Brooke took up lodgings in the house in 1909. A very popular graduate student within the university community, Brooke attracted an illustrious following. 

Amongst them was........ 


Virginia Woolf - Writer

John Maynard Keynes - Economist - painting by Duncan Grant.
E M Forster - Writer, Essayist, Librettist - painting by Dora Carrington
Bertrand Russell - Polymath, Philosopher

Augustus John - Painter - shown with Tallulah Bankhead - an American actress from a prominent Alabama political family. Her grandfather & uncle both served as US Senators, and her father was Speaker of the House of Representatives. She supported liberal causes, including the budding civil rights movement.

Ludwig Wittgenstein - Philosopher...... 
Collectively they were known as The Grantchester Group. 
Rupert Brooke later lodged in the neighbouring house, "The Old Vicarage", which he immortalised in his poem The Old Vicarage, Grantchester. He wrote the poem whilst in Cafe des Westens, Berlin, during May 1912. He was feeling homesick for England, and nostalgic for his old life back in Grantchester. 
The poem ends with the lines:
Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?
☆☆☆☆☆☆
Commissioned into the Royal Naval Division he took part in the disastrous Antwerp expedition in October 1914. In February 1915, he set sail for the Dardanelles. On board ship he developed septicaemia as a result of a mosquito bite, and died, aged 27years on 23rd April 1915 aboard a hospital ship off the Greek island of Skyros. His final resting place is in an olive grove on the island. 
"If I should die, think only this of me,
That there's some corner of a foreign field
that is for ever England".

The Old Vicarage acknowledges Rupert Brooke's time spent at the house with a statue of him on a plinth in the courtyard. The house is now owned by Jeffrey Archer - Politician, Author.


As we enjoyed cream teas beneath shady apple trees; children ran around playing hide-and-seek, an artist painted at her easel, we were aware of "The Orchards" notable past - a palpable atmosphere, akin to "standing on the shoulders of giants". 


The first 8 images courtesy wiki

41 comments:

  1. What a marvellous piece you have written here, Rosemary. Your impeccable flair with language and sense of style earned you a tea in the orchard, standing on the shoulders of giants as you say. I would just add this. Rupert Brooke's own poignant epitaph is for me one of the finest and most moving pieces of poetry ever composed, and it would not be much of a stretch to deem it THE finest. It makes one wonder what might have followed had he not died so young, doesn't it?

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    1. I am overwhelmed by your generous comment David - but thank, you have made my day.
      Rupert Brooke's poignant epitaph must be familiar to many, but I wonder how many realise that it was written by such a young man who died shortly afterwards.

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  2. What a lovely place for tea, and inspiring for poets and painters as well! I enjoyed your history of the place!

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    1. I always appreciate your kind comments Barbara.

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  3. Grantchester: my home for over 20 years and my mother's home for over half a century. I must have walked through the meadows hundreds of times and often wondered how many great men and women must have passed that way, as almost every student at Cambridge must have walked there at some time during their time at the University.

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    1. The only person of note that I am aware of, and have come across in Cambridge, was Stephen Hawking bombing around in his wheelchair.

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    2. What a beautiful place! Such an interesting history.
      I don’t know anything about these men yet. both of these women sure were troubled souls. Virginia may have been bipolar. She attempt suicide several time until she finally succeeded by drowning herself, I believe. Tallulah struggled with addiction. So much for what appears to be glamorous.

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    3. Some of these high profile talented people live such complicated lives, a way of life that most of us could never even imagine. Give me a simple life any day.

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  4. Wonderful! Nature, tea AND literary history!

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  5. Wonderful photos, as usually.

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  6. What a great idea to have tea in the orchard. Sad to have lost such a talented young man in the prime of his life,

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    1. It is a very popular venue especially with people from overseas. He was taken too soon.

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  7. Dearest Rosemary,
    Quite some history to the Orchard and a good thing you went there with your family and wrote this down for them as a historical record to treasure 'later'.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - sometimes you visit a place that has a really special nostalgia and ambience surrounding it and its place in terms of history.

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  8. I know quite a bit about most of the people/artists mentioned (and some details I wish I could forget:) but did not know about the house or forgot it was there. Read Tallulah Bankhead and Virginia Woolf's biography many years ago. Also dawned on me ages ago that while the majority of famous people may be talented in some way, most of them got there by having the right connections and mixing with the right people. Nameless millions with even greater talent but few useful connections go unnoticed. I suppose that's the main reason for going to university in the first place, boarding school being a modern version/update of the tradition of sending the children of a great lord to another friendly castle where they would be looked after and trained as a knight and in the craft of running a medieval estate, tenants and lands. Not much has changed really when you think about it. Sir Boris and all that crowd being a prime example.

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    1. Many people also get there through merit too. My granddaughter went to Oxford from a very ordinary local school.

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    2. She is probably very bright but will I have heard of her 100 years from now, my point being the ones that go down, remembered in history, are 90 percent more likely to have had the right social background or cultivated it afterwards which is the real passport to any lasting fame far more than raw talent. Took me decades to realise this in my more innocent, less savvy, youth but it's not a personal opinion I've arrived at out of sour grapes/bitterness just a fact of life as obvious to me now as day following night. Having real talent always helps of course... but not as much as the right connections to bag a lasting place in history. As a fan of biography/life story library collections over the years I've read book after book that supports this clearly.... something, now I'm more aware of it, is how the world really works. Took me a long time to understand that though as I'm a 20 watt bulb myself. Now I am aware of it - I'm happy and unconcerned by it. Like a full completed jigsaw puzzle at last. On-wards and upwards :o)

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    3. The offspring of distinguished families frequently do seek fame, I agree. Whereas the majority of the population do not care about doing so. However, I am reminded that Callahan, Major, Thatcher, Blair, Brown, May, all came from fairly ordinary backgrounds.

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  9. What a beautiful post, Rosemary.

    I wonder if I may have visited The Orchard once in my 20s? It does look a bit familiar, although the memory of unsubtle attention from wasps rather sprang to mind than the lofty Grantchester Group.

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    1. Ah! you must have visited at the wrong season - no fruit, no wasps.

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  10. How lovely to see these photos and the Orchid sounds an amazing place to have lived in and also to visit.

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  11. Hello Rosemary, Here is a complete history of the goings on at the Orchard, past and present. All details except the varieties of fruit on the trees, which you know is my outstanding interest. Their website even claims they have the original planting diagram, but again, no details!
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - sorry, I would help if I could, but I don't know either.

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  12. Hello, Rosemary. Good for you that you've enjoyed some outings recently. Having tea in the bright light of May/June at the orchard sounds so refreshing and so British. I wonder what it's like when apple trees are in bloom. The place like The Orchard would be the first place to be remembered when you are in a foreign land. How tragic for Rupert Brooke to have died so young. Regarding the unidentified white flower name on my latest post, thanks for your opinion and the name, which I found correct.

    Yoko

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    1. Hello Yoko - the small white flower did resemble an anemone but it was the little segregations along the edges of the leaves that didn't look quite right.
      How are you feeling about the imminent Olympics?

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    2. To express my mixed emotion is difficult, but to put it simple: Is 2021 Tokyo Games worth all the risks? Honestly speaking, I’m angry at arrogant attitude of the IOC to go ahead even if Japan was under a state of emergency or even if PM Suga ask cancellation. They've rubbed us wrong way. I’d like “IOC aristocrats” to be contained in Olympic Village not stay at the luxurious hotels.

      Now that all the preparations are steadily underway and if no chance for cancellation, I’m concerned that festival feel could let people’s guard down and increase the flow of people, even if authorized people from overseas are strictly ruled by test, quarantine, and GPS tracking.

      Having said that, I really wish the success of the Games by cooperation and patience of all the people. My wishful thinking; on this extraordinary situation, more transparency and genuine spirit of the Olympics are restored.

      What do you or British people see this issue?

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    3. Very succinctly put Yoko - I don't know the British point of view as I have not heard it expressed, but I whole heartedly agree with you. I would be really concerned about all of the people who have not yet received their two vaccination injections yet.

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  13. The lovely and inspiring atmosphere of the place is probably what attracted so many artist .

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    1. It attracted artists, writers and academics, especially as it was so close to Cambridge.

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  14. Your beautiful post ties together the poignant past with the present. Rupert Brooke's poem was studied by my students when we read the novel All Quiet on the Western Front. We contrasted Brooke's nostalgic words and his longing for England with Sassoon's disenchanted view of patriotism and its cost to human life. Tea in the orchard would evoke the past, as well as delight in the very moment.

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    1. Thank you Lorrie - I was really pleased to be able to read your account and observations re: using Rupert Brooke's poem with your students.

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  15. Lovely post Rosemary. A few years ago myself and some friend hired some punts from Cambridge to Grantchester stopping en-route for a picnic then continuing for a cream tea at the Orchards.

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    1. I am sure that you will also agree that the Orchard has a palpable atmosphere and nostalgia all of its own.

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  16. Lovely and interesting post! I would love to sit there under a tree...
    Warm hug from Titti

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