Welcome to this my blog - a record of my life with books and pictures



Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The book bloggy detective strikes in Oxfordshire: Swinbrook church and the grave of Nancy Mitford

1 August 2010 was the day that I ceased to be a bride. That’s right folks; it was our first wedding anniversary. For a bit of a break from London and in recognition of the fact that we are still speaking to each other, we decided that a weekend in Woodstock was in order. We went on walks, ate pies, drank wine, talked, got squashed by tourists in Blenheim Palace and got chased by wasps in Blenheim Palace gardens. Finally, on the way home, we were terribly English and decided to go “the scenic way”. When we drove past the SWINBROOK sign, we both said that we thought that it was significant in some way; where had we heard of it before?

I am grateful for a well read husband and have to admit to the world here and now that he remembered before I did: Swinbrook was the childhood home of the Mitford sisters and is the resting place of quite a few of them.

And so, to our list of first anniversary activities, we added grave hunting. The results are here for you to see. If anyone knows why there is a small mole carved on Nancy Mitford’s grave, you will have my undying gratitude.

24 comments:

  1. I was in Woodstock on Saturday! Coincidence!

    How sad that Nancy and Unity's graves are in such bad condition - you'd have thought someone would be tending to them, wouldn't you? I have no idea about the mole - perhaps a reference to a childhood nickname?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lesley Blanch’s gros-point cushions are coveted by those lucky enough to possess one. They record her travels and varied interests and some were done as gifts, with a motif designed around the friend in question, “For the late Nancy Mitford I worked a large pink-pawed mole, part of her family crest, with a huge sunflower indicating her book, The Sun King, and for the late Violet Trefusis, an evocation of Russia, to recall our shared love of all things Slav.”
    Hope this helps

    ReplyDelete
  3. Happy Anniversary! Ooh, I love Swinbrook!

    Your wedding anniversary is very close to when ours will be - ours will be the 2nd...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Happy 2nd Anniversary!

    And I didn't know that at all - despite being fairly close. I must make a pilgrimage...

    And the mole appears everywhere in connection with Nancy, and I never knew why - now Alison has enlightened us! (It does amuse me that three of your comments are from staff at the Bodleian...)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love the Mitfords! Thanks for the pictures but yes, how shocking that their graves are in such bad condition.

    Happy Anniversary!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great post. As a Northumbrian, (now in Cumbrian exile)I have an interest in the Mitfords. Yes, the mole appears on the family crest.

    Love your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Happy Anniversary! It sounds like you had a really nice time, and it's very cool that you got to see the Mitford's resting place. I also would like to know about the mole, so please let us know if you find out!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Happy Anniversary!

    I loved grave hunting in England! My teenage sons grew very tired of being dragged to visit the graves of famous authors during our year in England. Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Wordsworth, Dickens...Anne Brontë. The most "obscure" grave I visited, a short walk from our house in Kenilworth, was Vera Brittain's, outside of Warwick.

    ReplyDelete
  9. One of the biographies of Nancy Mitford relates the marvellous response of one of her (very innocent) aunts to her writing paper, decorated with a golden mole: "I have fallen in love with your charming golden c*nt (Gloucestershire of my young days for mole, nobody nowadays seems to know what it means". I really hope she said it and it's not just a Nancy elaboration. Happy anniversary.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Let's try this again....

    What a fantastic quest and great response here. I learned so much and this is my first visit to your blog! Happy belated 2nd anniversary. Can't wait to hear more about your journeys.

    Michele
    Writers Jailed today on SouthernCityMysteries

    ReplyDelete
  12. Happy anniversary! It is clear you have found your soul-mate!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Lucky you. Even though they left Swinbrook I think before all the children had fully grown it is clearly their real childhood place and where their spirits should be residing. Very sad there is noone to tend the graves a bit better. What is the Dowager Duchess of D doing? Happy Anniversary. xo

    ReplyDelete
  14. Happy First Wedding Anniversary - we were just planning on how to celebrate ours last night. Here's to many more.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank you all for your good wishes and such wonderful earned comments as well - thanks for filling me in.

    Bon weekend:-)
    Hannah

    ReplyDelete
  16. I intended to say "wonderful learned comments":-)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks for the information re the mole and sad that no one is there to tend to the graves

    ReplyDelete
  18. Happy anniversary. Very cool husband.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Happy anniversary! What a pity about the condition of Nancy and Unity's graves.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Belated happy anniversary, Hannah - how lovely to have a well-read husband. I'm embarrassed to say that I thought the gravestones were in quite good order - legible, at least. Can't help wondering whether the Mitfords would consider keeping your graves tidy as frightfully non-U? But I do love graveyards, and don't like them too manicured.

    ReplyDelete
  21. That is one cool husband you have there! Happy anniversary!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Nancy Mitford's grave! I don't know if the word to use is exciting (probably not) but um, interesting :) Happy anniversary! :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. Happy Anniversary! You will soon start to lose count of all the years. We celebrated our 31st, earlier in the year. I would have served more than a life sentence in jail by now! Only joking, I still love him really.
    We have been to Blenheim Palace on numerous occasions, as we used to live in the Cotswolds, in a place called Carterton, which is near Witney. Always loved Blenheim for a great day out.
    We are now living in darkest Somerset and after 21 years, still can't make up our minds whether we enjoy it, or not

    ReplyDelete
  24. Don't know how I missed this post?

    I'm in love with the Mitfords and someday along with going to tea with Debo, I plan on paying my respects at these graves.

    ReplyDelete