Deep in a beautiful oak wood in Hampshire we’ve just discovered a pile of fabulous Victorian lamp posts. They had been there, undisturbed, for twenty-five years. Laid in rows on steel girders, they had been enveloped somewhat by the rhododendrons.
The wood is on a beautiful private estate – the hilly grounds of a picturesque Lutyens-style house. The lamp posts had been deposited there in the 1980’s in anticipation of a plan to cut a new driveway through the trees to the house – just one of those plans that never happened.
Getting the crane lorry that far into the woods hadn’t been as difficult as it initially looked – the ground was very dry. Getting the slings around each pair of lamp posts, involved a bit of digging. It was quite dramatic as, with each lift, the cast iron columns burst from the leaf-litter and swung up and onto the lorry. They emerged in good condition with wonderful castings – the best examples we’ve salvaged in years.
It was hot work, even in the shade of the huge trees. This far into the woods, where the rhododendrons had grown unchecked, you didn’t get the benefit of any breeze on what was the hottest day of the year. The heat coming off the engine running the crane didn’t help much.
There were two trips to Hampshire in the end. The weight of twenty one cast iron posts is too much for our lorry in a single load.
The estate is being forcibly acquired from the gentleman-owner by his bank. Now in his seventies, having built up a fabulous manufacturing business from nothing and earning many millions that afforded him such a wonderful house thirty years ago, he is losing the lot – his house and his business. The signing of a financial product that even his accountant didn’t fully understand was his un-doing. You couldn’t wish to do business with a more charming man. He was very pleased to get some funds out of the oak wood with our purchase of the lamp posts. The bailiffs were due the following week. Men from the bank had already pegged out the estate for the dividing of it into lots.
We wish him well in his last-ditch attempt to see off the liquidators and we hope to report in the near future that the situation has been corrected. It is now a vain hope that the house might be returned to him in order that he can live out his retirement looking out at the oak wood – pondering on whether cutting a new driveway through to the road would be a good idea after all.
Twenty one lamp posts, found in a Hampshire wood, are now available at LASSCO Three Pigeons. They are early examples – hard to find – mostly from the 1880’s: barley twists, fluted, some with diamond registration marks, some with foundry stamps including “En Avant” and “Herring & Son Ltd”. There are pairs and sets among them. Click here to see them.
“This must be a simply enormous wardrobe!” thought Lucy, going still further in and pushing the soft folds of the coats aside to make room for her. Then she noticed that there was something crunching under her feet. “I wonder is that more mothballs?” she thought, stooping down to feel it with her hand. But instead of feeling the hard, smooth wood of the floor of the wardrobe, she felt something soft and powdery and extremely cold. “This is very queer,” she said, and went on a step or two further.
Next moment she found that what was rubbing against her face and hands was no longer soft fur but something hard and rough and even prickly. “Why, it is just like branches of trees!” exclaimed Lucy. And then she saw that there was a light ahead of her; not a few inches away where the back of the wardrobe ought to have been, but a long way off. Something cold and soft was falling on her. A moment later she found that she was standing in the middle of a wood at night-time with snow under her feet and snowflakes falling through the air. Lucy felt a little frightened, but she felt very inquisitive and excited as well. She looked back over her shoulder and there, between the dark tree trunks; she could still see the open doorway of the wardrobe and even catch a glimpse of the empty room from which she had set out. (She had, of course, left the door open, for she knew that it is a very silly thing to shut oneself into a wardrobe.) It seemed to be still daylight there. “I can always get back if anything goes wrong,” thought Lucy. She began to walk forward, crunch-crunch over the snow and through the wood towards the other light. In about ten minutes she reached it and found it was a lamp-post. As she stood looking at it, wondering why there was a lamp-post in the middle of a wood and wondering what to do next, she heard a pitter patter of feet coming towards her. And soon after that a very strange person stepped out from among the trees into the light of the lamp-post.”
C.S.Lewis, “The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe”