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The Life and Times of Coventry Patmore

By Derek Patmore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE Lymington

COVENTRY PATMORE had meant to spend the rest of his life at The Mansion House, Hastings. He loved the old brick house. He felt happy there with his young wife and his youngest son growing up before his eyes. Suddenly, in 1891, the owner of the house died, and despite the agreement by which Patmore leased the house for his lifetime, the new owner gave him notice to leave. Patmore was indignant. He loudly lamented 'the immense trouble and loss to me in various ways, I having built a big church opposite my door' and brought up many other arguments, but all were of no avail.

Francis Patmore, then still a boy, tells us 'I was with him in the garden when he got the letter. He was much agitated. "Kneel down, Piffie," he ordered, "and ask God to final us another house." I knelt on the gravel path and prayed as I had been told. Within a week we had an offer of The Lodge, Lymington, which proved an ideal home for the poet's last years.'*

After his indignation had died down, Patmore accepted his new residence with characteristic optimism. He left his family behind and went alone to inspect the new home. 'It was a bluish building,' says Gosse, 'standing coyly askew among trees, very retired and dowdy-looking, on a muddy point of land opposite the Isle of Wight.' Patmore wrote to his wife:

The house here is very attractive. It is about the size of ours, only a little queer and ramshackle in its construction, which makes it all the more individual. The gardens and grounds (three acres) are much nicer than ours, being much wilder and better timbered. . . . The surroundings are most beautiful and inspiring, Lymington is rather larger than Lewes, but more

____________________
*
These recollections of Coventry Patmore come from an article by Francis Patmore, written at my request, and first published in the English Review.

-203-

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