26 June 2013

Lydia Becker in Chadderton

The existing structure of Foxdenton Hall dates back to the end of the 17th century, and Ernest Hannibal Becker (1771–1852) was a German immigrant who rented the hall at the beginning of the 19th century. His son Hannibal Leigh Becker (1803–1877) was Lydia's father, and she was the eldest of fifteen children.

'The family home of
LYDIA ERNESTINE BECKER
 1827–1890
 Suffragist, campaigner and political lobbyist,
founder of the National Society
for Women's Suffrage
 
Women gained the full vote
in 1928'

This wooden sculpture is at the side of the hall.
 
'AESOP'S FABLES

The Fox and the Heron.

A Fox invited a Heron to dinner and served thin soup on a flat plate. The Heron with it's long beak could not eat and went hungry while the Fox ate all the food.

The Heron then invited the Fox to dinner. The Heron served the food in a tall thin jar into which it could fit it's long beak, but the Fox could not reach. Thus was the Fox served right for it's meaness.'
 
Er... I've noticed many other signs that we're probably losing the distinction between possession and omission with 'it(')s', and can't help thinking that GBS was perhaps right in advocating the complete abolition of the apostrophe.

Foxdenton Hall is in a rather idyllic setting, and apparently this is the first sighting of a Canada gosling here for many years.

Below is a link to an article on Lydia Becker on Manchester's Radical History website:
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Manchester's Radical History: Lydia Becker

Sylvia Townsend Warner: Lolly Willowes (1926)

This is a far from conventional spinster novel: it is deeply subversive, it screams anti-convention. Towards the end of the book the narrator suggests that protagonist Laura Willowes' nephew Titus is a 'proxy wooer', marrying Pandora when in fact the 'real match' is between Pandora and Lady Place, Titus's inherited home.

The word 'proxy' goes a long way towards an understanding of this work, because the unmarried Laura lives much of her life through others: after the death of her mother she's housekeeper to her father, and then after he dies it's taken for granted that she can probably have no life of her own (although she's still under thirty) and she goes to London to live with her brother Harry, his wife Caroline and her two nieces, one of whom accidentally causes the re-branding of Laura to 'Lolly'.

Early in her stay in London Harry and Caroline had nevertheless hoped to find a match for her among Harry's acquaintances in the legal profession, although Laura didn't tell them that she thinks '[t]heir jaws [are] like so many mouse-traps, baited with commonplaces'. However, they are surprised that she gets on well with Mr Arbuthnot, although marriage is far removed from Laura's ideas: she merely finds Mr Arbuthnot a little more human than the others because of his stammer. And then, after Mr Arbuthnot refers to February as a dangerous month Laura agrees, adding:

'If you are a were-wolf, and very likely you may be, for lots of people are without knowing, February, of all months, is the month when you are most likely to go out on a dark windy night and worry sheep.'

This is England in 1902 and we are in prim and proper upper-middle-class society, so the effect of such a frivolous – and slightly crazy – remark can be imagined. Some years later, in her late forties, Laura disturbs the family universe by deciding to leave her brother and family to live in the hamlet of Great Mop – a fictional creation, of course – in the Chilterns. There, in spite of the unwelcome and confused Titus briefly joining her, she finds a physical and a mental room of her own. A world of her own, in fact, because she makes a pact with the devil and becomes a witch:

'One doesn't become a witch to run round being harmful, or to run round being helpful either, a district visitor on a broomstick. It's to escape all that – to have a life of one's own, not to have an existence doled out to you by others, charitable refuse of their thoughts, so many ounces of stale bread of life a day'.

This was Sylvia Townsend Warner's first novel, and it clearly heralded a fresh new voice in interwar fiction. It's not difficult either to see the demonic symbolism, that essential coding of difference, as a prototype of the coding used by other homosexual writers such as Rhys Davies, John Hampson, or Frank Sargeson.

24 June 2013

James Dronsfield in Hollinwood

(Photo courtesy of Sophia Burgess.)

In the graveyard of St Margaret's Church, Chapel Road, Hollinwood:

'In Loving Memory
Of
JAMES DRONSFIELD
BORN AT HOLLINWOOD JAN 21ST 1826
DIED AT OLDHAM JUNE 24TH
1896.
HE EARNED THE ESTEEM OF HIS FRIENDS
BY HIS MANLY VIRTUES AND AS AN
AUTHOR UNDER THE NAME OF
JERRY LICHENMOSS
WAS WELL KNOWN FOR HIS SKETCHES
OF HUMBLE AND BY-GONE LANCASHIRE
LIFE.'
James Dronsfield was a friend of Samuel Bamford and Benjamin Brierley. His wife Ann (1823–95) is also buried here, as is his son Bamford William (1859–61), his first name being after his friend.
Dronfield's works were published posthumously as Ouselwood: or, A gathering of old chums, and other stories (Oldham: John Albinson, [1921]).
He attended Ben Brierley's funeral but died shortly before finishing editing Brierley's works. Below are links to these editions, and a link to a likeness of Dronsfield by George Henry Wimpenny:

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Ab-o'th'-Yate Sketches and other short stories: Volume I
Ab-o'th'-Yate Sketches and other short stories: Volume II
Ab-o'th'-Yate Sketches and other short stories: Volume III
James Dronsfield (Jerry Lichenmoss)

21 June 2013

Ron Rash: Serena (2008)

Ron Rash's Serena comes with many snippets from reviews, the Guardian's mentioning the author in the same breath as Cormac McCarthy and Charles Frazier, and I think Frazier is particularly significant as he is writing about the same geographical area. This powerful book certainly has an atmosphere of myth, or possibly, as one reviewer pointed out, of Shakespearian tragedy. Except that Serena is not a tragic figure – she's a psychopath.

And by proxy, she's a violent serial killer too, and the book begins where it ends: with an act of revenge, only the revenge at the beginning is turned against its unfortunate would-be perpetrator. To clarify: this is in the late 1920s in the North Carolina mountains, and Pemberton the logging company owner (whose forename is virtually never spoken, even by his wife) returns from a journey to Boston with his new wife Serena, who automatically expects her trophy husband to despatch the knife-toting, vengeful father Harmon, whose (as yet unnamed) daughter is visibly pregnant – by Pemberton, as everyone knows. So Harmon cuts Pemberton's arm a little and Pemberton slits Harmon's belly deeply and his intestines fall out: job done, time to show the wife her spartan new home.

Serena and Pemberton are a match made in hell, and the logging company proceeds to ride roughshod over anyone who stands in their way, cares nothing for its workers (well, this is the Depression and labor is cheap), and their only interest is in money and power, along with frequent 'coupling' with each other, as the narrator insists on calling it. If the merciless nature of the environment won't kill the men then (if they don't worship at the altar of Serena) then Serena knows a man who will kill them, and when she can't with impunity get Pemberton to kill for her, she'll get her henchman Galloway to do the job instead.

One of the minor characters in the book is a representation of Horace Kephart, who was the prime mover in the establishing of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and although he's the 'natural' enemy of the mass tree-felling Serena and husband, the novel of course doesn't  distort history and have him killed off by Galloway.

A strong symbol of Serena's power is the eagle she trains to kill rattle snakes, and even a dragon: the violent language is firmly rooted in the real, and this helps the reader to maintain that suspension of disbelief. And it's the eagle that hovers over the narrative drive, creating a fear in the reader that the bird will somehow destroy two of the few sympathetic characters in the novel: Rachel Harmon and her young child. This fear grows as Serena learns that she can't have a child and she seeks to have Rachel and the child killed.

Rash does suspense well, and as Pemberton reveals his tragic 'flaw' – his humanity, because he sees to it that Rachel gets enough money to escape to Seattle with their child, who conveniently looks like his double – Serena finds out and (via Galloway, of course) packs Pemberton off on an everlasting day trip with rat poison sandwiches; his death is made even more painful by a chance encounter with a deadly poisonous snake.

The story has another sting in its tail: forty-five years later (in a coincidence the reader just has to put up with in his or her honorable lust for revenge) Rachel happens to read about the timber baroness Serena, the 75-year-old Amazon who has been making financial killings in the Amazon for decades. This of course is the cue for Rachel's son to hop on a train to Sao Paulo (which, it perhaps goes without saying, mirrors Pemberton's train ride from Boston at the beginning), where he descends and swiftly slits Serena's bodyguard's throat and drives into her belly the knife that killed his grandfather. In a final poignant touch, Ron Rash leaves us with the image of the knife fast inside the still-standing Serena. Only she's now dead.

The movie adaptation, with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper as the Pembertons and directed by Susanne Bier, is due for release at the end of September 2013.

My post on Horace Kephart and his grave:


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Horace Kephart and Bryson City, North Carolina

Anthony Beckles Willson: Mr Pope & Others at Cross Deep, Twickenham in the 18th Century (1996)

I've already mentioned Anthony Beckles Willson in the Pope's Grotto post linked below, and indeed some of my information on the grotto and house came from this book. But the scope of this publication is much broader, detailing the people who lived in Cross Deep (formerly also the name of this area just outside Twickenham) before, during, and after Pope lived here between 1719 and his death in 1744.
 
This is a very well illustrated work, and it has to be so because of the often very confusing changing nature of the properties over time. Pope's Grotto is on the site of the present school Radnor House. One of Pope's neighbours was John Robartes (1686–1757), 4th Earl of Radnor, whose property (now long gone) was also called Radnor House. Robertes also owned a Cold Bath, or Bath House, near the River Thames, part of which has been moved to Radnor Gardens adjoining the present day Radnor House. Robertes was one of the witnesses to Pope's will in December 1943.
 
Pope erected a large memorial in the form of an obelisk at the bottom of his garden to commemorate his mother, with whom he had lived and who died in 1733. It survived Baroness Howe's ravages and now stands in the grounds of Penn House, Amersham, Bucks, after sailing by coal barge to Gopsall Park in Leicestershire, where it had spent several decades and is a kind of Howe family heirloom.
 
This large, impressive, informative and engrossing work is self-published and occasionally betrays minor flaws that more assiduous proofreading would have unearthed: for instance, both Robert Shirley and Selina Finch are given two separate ages when they married, and there are a number of rather eccentric uses of the comma: mere quibbles – this is still a fascinating book.
 
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Alexander Pope's Grotto in Twickenham
Alexander Pope in Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire
Alexander Pope in Chiswick

17 June 2013

Terry Dibble in Bayswater, New Zealand

 
'TERRY DIBBLE
May the hungry be fed and the
well fed have a hunger for justice'
 
Relaxing near our hotel in Bayswater on our final day in New Zealand before the long haul flights back to the UK, we were reading books on this bench when it occurred to me that Terry Dibble might be worth Googling. He was.
  
The bench in Quinton Park a short distance from the Baywater–Auckland ferry is relatively new: Father Dibble, a fervent campaigner for social justice, died in Auckland at the age of 78 in 2011. In 1981 he played an active part in the anti-Springbok tour, being one of the invaders of the pitch in Hamilton; he was a staunch supporter of independence in East Timor; and he spent a lifetime working for the recognition of Māori rights.

And this, in the distance, is the view of Auckland Harbour Bridge from Terry Dibble's memorial bench in Quinton Park, Baywater.

Writers' Homes in Devonport and Stanley Bay, New Zealand


'A. R. D. FAIRBURN
 
1904–1957        POET
 
Author, Journalist, Critic, Artist,
University Lecturer.
Arthur Rex Dugard Fairburn
lived here from 1946 to 1957.
 
7 King Edward P[ara]de'
 
The booklet North Shore Literary Walks: North Shore City Heritage Trails notes that Rex Fairburn's house was a 'gathering place for writers, artists [and] musicians', and among those writers were Denis Glover, Sarah Campion, Anthony Alpers, Maurice Duggan and Frank Sargeson. Famously, though, Fairburn fell out with Sargeson: he didn't believe in state grants for writing, and he didn't like gays either.

I took this shot just across the road from the house, and it shows the truth of that line of Fairburn's (punning on Rose Fyleman's line) about his proximity to the Devonport–Auckland boat: 'There are ferries at the bottom of my garden'.

Short story writer and novelist Tina Shaw (1961–) lived at 40 Church Street from 1991 to 1995.

Her second address in Devonport was 4 Kerr Street, where she lived in 1996 and 1997.


'MAURICE DUGGAN
 
1922–1974 SHORT STORY WRITER
 
Burns Fellow and Advertising
Copywriter, Maurice Duggan lived
here 1924 to 1935
 
46 Albert Road'
 
Ian Richards's PhD thesis on Duggan is available online.


'JAMES BERTRAM
 
1910–1993 AUTHOR
 
Academic, Rhodes Scholar, War
Correspondent and Japanese
POW, born and lived in this house,
formerly the Presbyterian Manse,
from 1910 to 1914.
 
47 Vauxhall Road'

8 Domain Street, Devonport. Kevin Ireland (1933–), poet, novelist, and short story writer.

26 William Bond Street, Stanley Bay. John Graham (1922–), playwright, screenwriter and memoirist, now on Great Barrier Island.

98 Calliope Road, Stanley Bay. Dorothy Butler (1925–), educator and children's book writer.

10 Spring Street, Stanley Bay. Shonagh Koea, novelist and short story writer, lived here from 1997 to 2000.

David Huk: Ben Brierley 1825–1896 (1995)

David Huk's biography of Ben Brierley, one of the many local history publications by the late Neil Richardson, is very useful in that it is the only book I'm aware of (with the exception of Brierley's autobiography) that deals with Brierley in such depth: there are 48 A4 pages here, and Huk has obviously studied his subject in some detail and a great deal of enthusiasm.

Brierley was born in Failsworth between Manchester and Oldham to a handloom weaver, and the book traces his intellectual progress and vision as a writer – from meeting the poet and bookseller Elijah Ridings (also born in Failsworth and buried in Manchester General Cemetery) in his lunch break in the 1840s, having his poems published in John Bolton Rogerson's Oddfellow's Magazine, his relationship with Samuel Bamford, Samuel Laycock and Edwin Waugh, the publication of the highly successful Ben Brierley's Journal, his visits to the USA (the first one being with Sam Gradwell, and much more.

This is the story of a man's rise from very modest circumstances to a relatively comfortable position and then back again towards the end of his life. His alter ego, Ab o'th'Yate, achieved considerable success, and his short story 'A Day Out' (1855) led to the great popularity of an area (imaginary to begin with) being called Daisy Nook and associated by the artist Charles Potter with Waterhouses: Huk says the area was 'transformed almost overnight into a mini-Blackpool'. Today, the name Daisy Nook survives in a country park named after it.

The principal faults of the book are its many completely unnecessary exclamation marks, which frequently follow Huk's equally unnecessary chatty asides: for instance, I really didn't need to know that Huk fortified himself for his visit to Harpurhey Cemetery with drink from a large hip flask, or that his mother went to James Middleton's funeral, and so on – I suspect that he often forgot that he was writing a book and instead imagined himself gossiping in the local pub.

Link to my other Ben Brierley post:

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Ben Brierley in Failsworth and Harpurhey

Julian Maclaren-Ross: Of Love and Hunger (1947)

Julian Maclaren-Ross (1912–64) is one of that slightly contradictory group of writers – both obscure and well known. Many readers are aware of him in a secondhand fashion, in the pastiche of Maclaren-Ross as X Trapnel in Anthony Powell's Books Do Furnish a Room (1970). But quite recently this novel was incorporated into the Penguin Classics canon with J. D. Taylor's eight-page Introduction to this dandyish, hard-drinking, impecunious, self-destructive inhabitant of the drinking dens of Fitzrovia. As he died at the relatively young age of 52, Maclaren-Ross was too young to have attained the status of 'national treasure' or, conversely, to have disgraced himself by embracing conformity in old age; so, fuelled by photographic images of his handsome features, his malacca cane and his cigarette holder, he has developed a kind of cult status, and in 2006 his formerly unmarked grave in Paddington was furnished with a headstone by a group of admirers led by Virginia Ironside.

Of Love and Hunger doesn't have a complicated plot: it portrays the life of a heavy-drinking, heavy-smoking vacuum cleaner salesman chasing door-to-door demonstrations (or 'dems' – which would no doubt be called 'leads' today) and falling foul of the cut-throat nature of the work. Inadvertently he is sucked in by the powers of Sukie, the rather capricious would-be femme fatale who is the wife of his friend and colleague Roper. But in the end the increasingly black clouds of war bring a silver lining in the form of a 'respectable' job for Captain Fanshawe, who is getting married to the reliable, loving Jackie Mowbray. The complexity of the novel is in the network of subsidiary characters, some of whom have bit parts, often supplying humorous diversions, such as Larry Heliotrope who survives the system largely by conning his way through it; or Sukie's unnamed landlady sticking her ear to the keyhole when Fanshawe visits her; or Barnes, who spends more time in and out of the pubs than selling vacuum cleaners, etc.

Of Love and Hunger evokes a number of books, either coincidentally or deliberately: the title is from Auden and MacNeice's 'Letter to Lord Byron' in their Letters from Iceland (1937); the title, the context of poverty and the frequent telegraphic styles recall Lionel Britton's Hunger and Love (1931); this world is redolent of Patrick Hamilton's boarding house novels, and the doomed love affair to a certain extent reminds us of Hamilton's The Midnight Bell (1929); Frank Tilsley's The Plebian's Progress (1933) painfully highlights the twilight world of the vacuum cleaner salesman; Orwell's Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936) concerns the deadening effect of conformity and has a background of poverty (a kind of retribution for those who don't conform), Coming Up for Air (1939) has conformity in a pre-war setting as a major theme, and then there's the coincidence of Orwell and Fanshawe's background in India. D. J. Taylor mentions Hemingway's pared-down style in passing, but in addition there's a vague, general American cultural influence running through the book. Highly interesting for comparison to and contrast with this novel are the depictions of lives of salesmen in two  later plays: Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman (1949) and David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross (1984).

Frank Tilsley is perhaps of particular interest here, not only in his representation of vacuum cleaner selling, but as a counterpoint to Of Love and Hunger's representations of class and sexual behaviour: Tilsley came from the working class and several of his novels form part of the (more obscure) working-class canon, although Maclaren-Ross wasn't working class and Fanshawe and Sukie don't align themselves with the politics of the left but identify more with the apolitical 'misfit' as Sukie terms it; and whereas Of Love and Hunger is very coy in its portrayals of extra- and pre-marital sex, Tilsley's allusions to sex (particularly to contraception) in The Plebeian's Progress and She Was There Too (1938) are bolder, no doubt largely because they are within socially approved marital parameters.

12 June 2013

The Red Telephone Boxes of Kingston upon Thames

Sometimes, the urge to photograph is just irresistible. Single-click on the image to get the full in-yer-face effect.
 
'OUT OF ORDER
BY
DAVID MACH
 
"OUT OF ORDER" was commissioned by the
Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and unveiled on
19th December 1989 and renovated on instruction of the
Kingston Town Neighbourhood Committee in 2001.
This work was carried out by Unicorn Kiosk Restorations.'
 

Bromley House Library, Nottingham

Nottingham Subscription Library was established in 1816 and moved to Bromley House on Angel Row six years later. The plaque outside tells us that the house dates from 1752: it was originally a town house built for George Smith, who was a grandson of the founder of Smith's Bank.

Bromley House Library's inconspicuous entrance. This is a Grade II* listed building.

The first floor, with its superb spiral staircase leading to the Gallery.

Up in the Gallery looking towards the garden at the back.

And a different view of that staircase.
The George Green Room, which is at the front of the building and named after the prominent Sneinton-born physicist who was a member of the library and is most noted for his paper An essay on the Application of mathematical analysis to the theories of electricity and magnetism (1828). There's a very impressive collection of (particularly 19th century, female-authored) novels here.
 
Back to the first floor again, and the painting in the Neville Hoskins Room is Clifton Grove by John Rawson Walker (1796–1893).

This detail is a little blurred, but the features are relatively clear. It's thought to represent the poet Henry Kirke White (1785–1806), author of Clifton Grove, a Sketch in Verse, with other Poems (1803).
 
Many thanks to Dr Rowena Edlin-White for showing me round the remarkable Bromley House Library, which for some reason I'd just not got round to visiting before.

Lost Plots with Rowena Edlin-White and Tony Shaw

It did occur to me that 'Cemetry [sic] Gates: Keats and Yeats Are on Your Side' would also have made a good title for this, but then not everyone would have recognised the reference to the Smiths' song, and anyway of what relevance to Nottingham are Morrissey's (partly tongue-in-cheek) reminiscences of walks around Manchester Southern Cemetery?
 
I digress. This announcement, then, I've copied from the booklet advertising this year's Lowdham Book Festival: with Rowena Edlin-White, I'll be taking a short walk around the literary features of Nottingham General Cemetery, giving potted biographies and snippets from the works of writers buried there. Ann Gilbert (aka Ann Taylor), Robert Millhouse and Henry Hogg are already mentioned above, but the list also includes Ruth Bryan, Annie Matheson, Josiah Gilbert, Charles Bell Taylor, Robert Goodacre, Anthony Hervey, Sarah Ann Agnes Turk and (indirectly) James Prior, whose parents lie here. And of course it would be churlish not to mention, in passing, the 'Old General' Benjamin Mayo – he probably couldn't even read, but at least he sold the writings of other people.
 
Friday 28 June at 10:30 and 2:30 then, tickets £3, and pre-booking essential. Should be very interesting, and if anyone can tell me where Samuel Cox's grave – or, for that matter, tell me where any other writer's grave is in the cemetery – I'd be very pleased to know.
 
OK, I can't resist the link:
 
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The Smiths: Cemetry [sic] Gates

11 June 2013

Alexander Pope's Grotto in Twickenham

Alexander Pope (1688–1844), whose father died in October 1717, moved from Chiswick to Twickenham with his mother Edith (née Turner), his childhood nurse Mary Beach and a dog called Bounce in spring 1919. After translating Homer's Iliad, Pope had a considerable amount of money. He leased property from Thomas Vernon by the Thames in Cross Deep in Twickenham, and soon began building a house there. The villa was built close to the road, and the land across from it – which belonged to several people – Pope leased for a garden, his head man being John Serle. Pope constructed a tunnel under the road to provide access directly from the house to the garden, and began work on a grotto in the cellars, which he continued working on until shortly before his death. The tunnel was originally 22ft long, but was later extended on two occasions due to road widening.
 
Anthony Beckles Willson has done a large amount of research on the local history of Twickenham, and refers to Pope's second stage, which which began towards the end of 1739, as 'mining and geology'. Pope was a friend of Ralph Allen of Bath, who was building a mansion in Prior Park near his mines and quarries, and some of Pope's inspiration came from him, although the driving force came when he visited Hotwell Spa in the Avon Gorge, Bristol, in 1739 and was greatly impressed by the rock formations. He had ores, spars, crystals, marble, mundic, alabaster and freestone – among other materials – sent to him, and the grotto very much reflects this new interest. Many people contributed to Pope's hobby, such as Sir Hans Sloane supplying stones from the Giant's Causeway, Ireland. Not only stone, but wood, glass, coral, birds' nests, etc, went into furnishing the brickwork of the grotto, which has to some extent been altered over time (and particularly been the victim of pilfering), although much of it has remained intact.
 
The sign at the front of Radnor House School, the owners of the grotto.
 
The entrance to the grotto showing the tunnel that led to the garden.
 
Figures of heads above the entrance, although they were probably added after Pope's death.
 
A lion's head at the entrance.
 
Through the entrance is a lateral chamber, the left side of which has part of a dead tree said to be of a willow that Pope planted.
 
 
On each side of the tunnel is a chamber bearing an ammonite cast at the centre of the entrance arch. After Pope's death Serle published a tourist guide to the garden and the grotto, although these casts aren't mentioned in it.
 
The right chamber, flamboyantly covered in stones and shells.
 
 
At the rear of the chamber is a statue of St James of Compostella, the patron saint of Spain, with scallop emblem at the front of his hat.
 
 
The statue at the rear of the left chamber is perhaps of the Virgin Mary, which dates from after that of St James. A plan of the grotto drawn in 1785 by Samuel Lewis features both of the statues, although they were perhaps installed by Sir William Stanhope, who bought the property after Pope's death.
 
Apart from the statue, another central feature of the left chamber is the table with its various stone exhibits, of which this shows a section.
 
The white card contains a quotation by Pope: 'When you have a mind to light it up, it affords you a very different Scene: it is finished with Shells interspersed with Pieces of Looking-glass in angular Forms ... at which when a Lamp is hung in the Middle ..., a thousand pointed Rays glitter and are reflected over the place.'
 
A closer shot of the tunnel.
 
Pope didn't own the property: it still belonged to the Vernon family. Stanhope bought it the year after Pope's death in 1745, had wings fitted to the villa and later bought the garden, then bought more garden land at the top of Pope's garden and constructed his own tunnel, which was known as 'Stanhope's Cave'. This is the entrance to it.
 
The tablet at the centre of the arch reads:
 
'The Humble Roof, the Garden’s Scanty Line,
Ill suits the Genius of the Bard Divine,
But fancy now Displays a Fairer Scope,
And STANHOPE’S Plans Unfold the Soul of POPE.'

With not a little arrogance, then, Stanhope thought he had improved on Pope's manual work, although Horace Walpole didn't. In 1807 – when Walpole had been dead for ten years – Sophie Charlotte, Baroness Howe of Langar, Nottinghamshire demolished it.


Taking Pope's Dunciad as an influence behind her satire, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu had some rather unkind (but admittedly clever and very funny) words to say of Pope and his grotto, of which this is more than a fragment of the fragment:
 
'The Court of Dulness: A Fragment:
 
Her palace plac'd beneath a muddy road,
And such the influence of the dull abode,
The carrier's horse above can scarcely drag his load.
Here chose the goddess her belov'd retreat,
Which Phoebus tries in vain to penetrate;
Adorn'd within with shells of small expense,
(Emblems of tinsel rhyme and trifling sense),
Perpetual fogs enclose the sacred cave,
The neighbouring sinks their fragrant odours gave;
In contemplation here she pass'd her hours,
Closely attended by subservient powers:
Bold Profanation with a brazen brow,–
Much to this great ally does Dulness owe:
But still more near the goddess you attend,
Naked Obscenity! her darling friend.
To thee for shelter all the dull still fly,
Pert double meanings e'en at school we try.
What numerous writers owe their praise to thee,
No sex – no age – is from thy influence free;
By thee how bright appears the senseless song,
By thee the book is sold, the lines are strong.
The heaviest poet, by thy pow'rful aid,
Warms the brisk youth and charms the sprightly maid;
Where breathes the mortal who's not prov'd thy force
In well-bred pun, or waiting-room discourse?'
 
However, Pope's friend Robert Dodsley came up with this tribute:

'The Cave of Pope
 
When dark Oblivion in her sable cloak 
Shall wrap the names of heroes and of kings; 
And their high deeds, submitting to the stroke 
Of time, shall fall amongst forgotten things:
 
Then (for the Muse that distant day can see)
On Thames’s bank the stranger shall arrive,
With curious wish thy sacred grott to see,
Thy sacred grott shall with thy name survive.

Grateful posterity, from age to age, 
With pious hand the ruin shall repair:
Some good old man, to each inquiring sage 
Pointing the place, shall cry, “The bard lived there 
 
“Whose song was music to the listening ear, 
Yet taught audacious vice and folly shame:
Easy his manners, but his life severe;
His word alone gave infamy or fame. 

“Sequestered from the fool and coxcomb-wit, 
Beneath this silent roof the Muse he found; 
’Twas here he slept inspired, or sat and writ
Here with his friends the social glass went round.”

With awful veneration shall they trace 
The steps which thou so long before hast trod; 
With reverent wonder view the solemn place 
From whence thy genius soared to nature’s God. 
 
Then, some small gem, or moss, or shining ore,
Departing, each shall pilfer, in fond hope
To please their friends on every distant shore,
Boasting a relic from the cave of Pope.'
 
Further photos of the grotto:
 
 
 
 
 
 
Outside, but still on Cross Deep, is the Alexander Pope pub and hotel.
 
ADDENDUM: When I returned to Twickenham in August 2013, I noticed for the first time this inscription on the school wall:
 
'ON THIS SPOT STOOD UNTIL 1809
THE HOUSE OF
ALEXANDER POPE
THE GROTTO THAT FORMED HIS BASEMENT
STILL REMAINS 1848'
 
 My other Pope posts:

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Alexander Pope in St Marys Church, Twickenham
Alexander Pope in Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire
Anthony Beckles Willson: Mr Pope & others at Cross Deep
Alexander Pope in Chiswick