Saturday, 17 May 2008

The Old House at Coate

Wood Engraving by AGNES MILLER PARKER - taken from The Old House at Coate

"On a dry summer night, when there was no dew, I used to lie on back at full length (looking to the east), on the grass footpath by the orchard, and gaze up into the sky. This is the only way to get at it and feel the stars: while you stand upright, the eye, and through the eye, the mind, is biased by the usual aspect of things: the house there ; the trees yonder; it is difficult to forget the mere appearance of rising and setting. Looking straight up like this, from the path of to the stars, it was clear and evident that I was really riding among them; they were not above, nor all around, but I was in the midst of them. There was no underneath, no above: everything was level with me; the sense of measurement and distance disappeared."

From "The Old House at Coate" Chapter 2: The Seasons and the Stars - by Richard Jefferies

Richard Jefferies was born at Coate Farm near Swindon on November 6th 1848. He lived there for the first 29 years of his life, studying, writing and working for the local newspaper. His writing was prolific. He wrote a very personal account about his love the Wiltshire countryside and the joys of nature in The Story of My Heart.
(Died on 14th August 1887 at the aged of 38 and is buried in Broadwater Cemetery, Worthing).

The Old House at Coate still exists on the corner of Dayhouse Lane by Coate Water Country Park in Swindon and is now the Richard Jefferies Museum.
The house and garden are maintained by a small dedicated group of volunteers and open to the public on the first and third Sunday during summer months.