Lemmons

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Lemmons in the 1970s

Kingsley Amis and Jane Howard,
with the house in the background

Alternative names Gladsmuir House
General information
Status Grade II listed building[1]
Type Residential house
Architectural style Georgian
Location Hadley Common, Monken Hadley, London Borough of Barnet, EN5
Country England
Coordinates 51°39′37″N 0°11′32″W / 51.6603°N 0.1922°W / 51.6603; -0.1922
Construction started c. 1830
Technical details
Floor count Two storeys
Grounds Over eight acres
Other information
Number of rooms Over 20
Parking Gravel drive

Lemmons, also known as Gladsmuir House, was the home of novelists Kingsley Amis (1922–1995) and Elizabeth Jane Howard (1923–2014) on Hadley Common, Monken Hadley, on the border of north London and Hertfordshire.[2]

The couple bought the Georgian house and its eight acres of land at auction for £48,000 in 1968, and lived there until 1976. The house had been registered as a Grade II listed building in 1949 under the name Gladsmuir House.[3] Jane Howard restored its previous name, Lemmons; the next owners changed it back to Gladsmuir.[4]

Jane and Kingsley lived at Lemmons with Jane's mother and brother, two artist friends, and Kingsley's three children, Philip, Martin and Sally. Several of the family's novels were written at Lemmons, including Kingsley's The Green Man (1969) and The Alteration (1976), Jane's Odd Girl Out (1972) and Mr. Wrong (1975), and Martin's The Rachel Papers (1973) and Dead Babies (1975).[5]

Cecil Day-Lewis, the poet laureate, his wife, Jill Balcon, and their children, Daniel Day-Lewis and Tamasin Day-Lewis, stayed at Lemmons in the spring of 1972, when Cecil was dying of cancer.[6] He died in the house on 22 May that year, shortly after writing "At Lemmons," his last poem.[7][8] Ian Sansom writes that, for the brief period that the Amises, Howards, Day-Lewises and others were in residence, Lemmons became "the most brilliantly creative household in Britain."[6]

History[edit]

16th–19th century[edit]

photograph
Frances Trollope (1779–1863) may have lived in the house from 1836 to 1838.

The land and an earlier house were owned by Henry Bellamy in 1584. The Quilter family owned the land from 1736 to 1909 (it was an estate of 23 acres in 1778).[9] A Major Hemery appears to have lived in the house in or around 1881.[10] Captain Thomas Hall Rokeby Plumer, the 2nd Viscount Plumer, lived there in the 1920s.[11]

The writer Frances Trollope, mother of novelist Anthony Trollope, rented a house on Hadley Common from January 1836 until the early summer of 1838, possibly Gladsmuir, shortly after the death of her husband and one of her sons.[12] According to Robert Bradford in his 2011 biography of Martin Amis, Jane Howard discovered the Trollope connection from the house's papers, and said that Frances Trollope had purchased it, although a purchase seems unlikely given the Trollope family's finances.[13]

Frances Trollope, her daughters, Emily and Cecilia, and two of her sons, Anthony and Tom, moved to Hadley Common in 1836 from Bruges, Belgium, where they had fled to escape debtors' prison in England. When Trollope's husband (the debtor) died, the threat of prison receded.[14] Emily was ill with tuberculosis; her doctor had advised that winter in England would benefit her.[12]

Trollope described the property as a "pleasant house with a good garden on the common at Hadley, near Barnet," and her "pretty cottage." R. H. Super writes that she invited eight guests to stay with her one Christmas, in addition to her family, so referring to it as a cottage was somewhat misleading.[12] The move did not, in the end, help Emily, who died in February 1836. She was buried in the nearby churchyard at the Church of St Mary the Virgin. Anthony Trollope later placed one of his characters, in The Bertrams (1859), in a dull country house in Hadley.[15]

20th century[edit]

Gate into Hadley Common, which was enclosed in 1777

Jane Howard found that the house had previously been called Lemmons, and decided to restore that name.[16] It was known as Gladsmuir when they bought it – from Gladsmuir Heath, the former name of Hadley Common, site of the Battle of Barnet in 1471 during the Wars of the Roses.[17] The house had been registered under that name as a Grade II listed building in 1949, with an address in Hadley Wood Road; as of 2014 the address was listed as Hadley Common.[1]

Made of red brick with a stucco trim, the house has five-bays, two-storeys, sash windows, and a central Doric porch with fluted columns and entablature with triglyphs. There is a later extension and a detached housekeeper's cottage, Gladsmuir Cottage.[1] The panelled double doors lead to two internal staircases and over 20 rooms, including eight bedrooms, three reception rooms and a large kitchen; one room contains late-18th-century medallions.[18]

In the three-acre garden, when Jane and Kingsley Amis lived there, there was an old barn that was itself a listed building, a conservatory and a gravel drive, three descending lawns, a rose garden, cedar trees, a mulberry tree (where Lucy Snowe, their cat, was buried), and a weathervane dating to 1775. At the end of the garden, through a five-bar gate, there lay a five-acre meadow that also belonged to the property and had been let out to two local women for their horses.[19]

Household[edit]

Residents[edit]

Kingsley and Jane married in 1965 after meeting two years earlier at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, which she had helped to organize. In 1947 she had left her first husband, Peter Scott, with whom she had a daughter, and in 1963 divorced her second, Jim Douglas-Henry.[21] Kingsley was still married to his first wife, Hilly Bardwell, when he and Jane began an affair.[22]

The couple first lived together in an Edwardian house at 108 Maida Vale, London, W2. They bought Lemmons at auction for £48,000 in 1968, and lived there from 28 November that year.[23] Kingsley wrote to the poet Philip Larkin in April 1969:

This is a bloody great mansion, in the depths of the country though only 15 miles from the centre, and with lots of room for you to come and spend the night."[24]
photograph
Martin Amis wrote his first two novels at Lemmons.

The core household consisted of Jane and Kingsley; Jane's mother, Katherine ("Kit"), a former ballerina, who died in the house in 1972; one of Jane's brothers, Colin ("Monkey"); and artists Sargy Mann and Terry Raybauld.[25] The housekeeper, Mrs. Uniacke, lived in Gladsmuir Cottage.[26] Kingsley's children, Philip, Martin and Sally lived in the house from time to time, mostly outside term time, or at weekends in the case of Philip and Martin; the children were 17, 16 and 12 when Kingsley and Jane married.[27] Sally moved into Lemmons in 1970 when Martin was in his second year at Oxford.[28]

It was Jane who encouraged Martin to start reading. When she and Kingsley married, Martin was reading comics and Harold Robbins; she recommended Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Scott Fitzgerald, Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene and William Golding. She also advised him to try for a place at Oxford, for which he said he owed her an "unknowable debt." After 12 months at Sussex Tutors (a crammer in Brighton) in 1967–1968, he passed six O-levels and 3 A-levels, and won an exhibition to Exeter College, Oxford.[29] He graduated in 1971 with a congratulatory first in English.[30]

Martin lived at Lemmons until Christmas that year, after which he started work at The Times Literary Supplement and moved to central London, visiting his father and Jane at weekends. He shared a maisonette in or near Pont Street, SW1, with a friend, Rob Henderson – Henderson was Charles Highway in The Rachel Papers, Gregory Riding in Success (1978), and Kenrik in The Pregnant Widow (2011).[31] When they ran out of money, Martin found himself a "dust-furred bed-sit in Earls Court."[32]

He described Lemmons in Experience (2000):

The house on Hadley Common was a citadel of riotous insolvency – not just at Christmas but every weekend. There was a great sense of in-depth back-up, a cellar, a barrel of malt whisky, a walk-in larder: proof against snowstorm or shutdown. I think it was that Christmas morning [1977], that all four Amises, with breakfast trays on their laps, watched Journey to the Centre of the Earth – then the visit to the pub, then the day-long, the week-long lunch. And with Kingsley the hub of all humour and high spirits, like an engine of comedy ... I felt so secure in that house – and, clearly, so insecure elsewhere – that I always experienced a caress of apprehension as I climbed into the car on Sunday night, any Sunday night, and headed back to the motorway and Monday, to the flat or the flatlet, the street, the job, the tramp dread, the outside world.[33]

Novels[edit]

Kingsley wrote ten books at Lemmons, in his wood-panelled study on the ground floor, including The Green Man (1969), What Became of Jane Austin? And Other Questions (1970), Girl, 20 (1971), The Riverside Villas Murder (1973), Ending Up (1974), The Alteration (1976), and part of Harold's Years (1977).[34] Jane finished Something in Disguise (1969), Odd Girl Out (1972) and Mr. Wrong (1975), though she spent most of her time looking after the house.[35]

Martin wrote his first two novels, The Rachel Papers (1973) and Dead Babies (1975), in his bedroom above Kingsley's study. The first draft of The Rachel Papers was started in July 1970 and completed in September 1972; it won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1974, which Kingsley had won in 1955 for Lucky Jim (1954). When he heard the prize had gone to Martin, Kingsley said words to the effect that, "Good that it's back in the family. It should keep the old prig turning in his grave," a reference to Maugham's view that Lucky Jim's characters were illustrative of the country's moral decline.[36]

Guests[edit]

Tamasin Day-Lewis wrote that Lemmons was always full of "impossibly glamorous older people and a core commune of writers, painters and inventors; even the dogs and cats shared a communal basket, and there were always stray writers and publishers whose marriages were unravelling."[37] Gully Wells, Martin's girlfriend and step-daughter of the philosopher A. J. Ayer, said that "a more hospitable household would be impossible to imagine."[38]

House guests included Martin's close friends Christopher Hitchens, James Fenton, Clive James and Julian Barnes,[39] and his and Kingsley's literary agents Tom Maschler and Pat Kavanagh; Pat's sister, Julie (Martin's girlfriend); the Australian psychiatrist James Durham, Pat's partner at the time. Pat Kavanagh and Julian Barnes married in September 1979.[40]

The Lemmons visitors' book also listed John Betjeman and Philip Larkin; writers Tina Brown and Paul Johnson, and Johnson's wife, Marigold; Iris Murdoch and her husband, John Bayley; journalist Bernard Levin and John Gross, editor of the Times Literary Supplement;[41] the broadcaster Huw Wheldon and his wife, novelist Jacqueline Wheldon; historians Robert Conquest and Paul Fussell; and, for one visit, novelist Elizabeth Bowen.[42]

The Day-Lewises moved into Lemmons in the spring of 1972 when Tamasin's father, the poet laureate Cecil Day-Lewis, was dying of cancer.[6] The families were close. Cecil and Jane had been lovers after her first divorce and Jane was Tamasin's godmother.[43] Tamasin and Martin had also started dating.[44]

Tamasin and her brother, Daniel, and their mother, Jill Balcon, stayed at the house for five weeks, until Cecil died on 22 May.[6][8] Jane wrote: "Nobody was better at getting the utmost pleasure from the simplest things as Cecil: a bunch of flowers, a toasted bun, a gramophone record ... a piece of cherry cake, a new thriller ..."[45] He dedicated his final poem, "At Lemmons," to "Jane, Kingsley, Colin, Sargy": "I accept my weakness with my friends' / Good natures sweetening each day my sick room."[7]

Move to Hampstead[edit]

Lemmons was featured in Woman's Journal in June 1976 in an advertisement for wallpaper by Arthur Sanderson & Sons.[46] The company decorated a room and took a photograph of Kingsley and Jane sitting in it, published under the headline "Very Sanderson, Very Amis."[47]

The couple sold Lemmons shortly after this, for £105,000. They moved to a smaller house, Gardnor House, in Flask Walk, Hampstead, London NW3. Kingsley was apparently tired of living so far from central London.[48] Jane loved Lemmons, but was exhausted from the effort of running it. Kingsley expected her to do most of the cooking and domestic work, for the family plus assorted guests, as well as drive him around and do the finances and much of the gardening. Women for Kingsley were "for bed and board," as Jane put it. She ended up on Tryptizol and Valium.[49] Sargy Mann said that Lemmons was "wonderful for everyone but Jane."[50]

Jane left the marriage in 1980 because she realized that Kingsley did not like her; her lawyer gave him a letter the day she was expected back from a health farm.[51] Neither of them remarried, and they never spoke again.[52] Martin wrote: "[T]he big house disappeared ... and so did love."[53]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Gladsmuir", English Heritage: "Circa 1830 Villa. Red brick with plot band, quoins and architraves of stucco. Low pitch slate roof with deep eaves on brackets. Two storeys, 5 windows, sashes with glazing bars. Central Doric porch with fluted columns and triglyph entablature. Panelled double doors. Good entrance hall, other interiors not seen."

    "Gladsmuir", britishlistedbuildings.co.uk: "Circa 1830 Villa. Red brick with plot band, quoins and architraves of stucco. Low pitch slate roof with deep eaves on brackets. Two storeys, 5 windows, sashes with glazing bars. Central Doric porch with fluted columns and triglyph entablature. Panelled double doors. Good entrance hall, other interiors not seen."

    T. F. T. Baker, et al (eds.), "'Monken Hadley: Introduction'", A History of the County of Middlesex, Volume 5, 1976, p. 262: "South of the common, Lemmons, formerly Gladsmuir House, stands on the site of a house belonging to Henry Bellamy in 1584; the building, with a Doric porch, an extension to the east, and a room enriched with late 18th-century medallions, has been much altered since it was built by the Quilter family, which owned the property from 1736 to 1909."

  2. ^ Gavin Keulks, Father and Son: Kingsley Amis, Martin Amis, and the British Novel Since 1950, University of Wisconsin Press, 2003, p. 135.
  3. ^ Zachary Leader, The Life of Kingsley Amis, Jonathan Cape, 2006, pp. 607, 617.
  4. ^ Elizabeth Jane Howard, Slipstream, Pan Macmillan, 2011 [2002], p. 374. For the change back to Gladsmuir, Ian Norrie, Barnet in old photographs, A. Sutton, 1993, p. 113.
  5. ^ Leader 2006, pp. 614, 633, 645.
  6. ^ a b c d Ian Sansom, "Great dynasties of the world: The Day-Lewises", The Guardian, 3 April 2010.
  7. ^ a b C. Day Lewis, The Complete Poems, Stanford University Press, 1992, p. 713; "At Lemmons", www.cday-lewis.co.uk.
  8. ^ a b Peter Stanford, C Day-Lewis: A Life, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2007, p. 318.
  9. ^ Baker 1976: "South of the common, Lemmons, formerly Gladsmuir House, stands on the site of a house belonging to Henry Bellamy in 1584; the building, with a Doric porch, an extension to the east, and a room enriched with late 18th-century medallions, has been much altered since it was built by the Quilter family, which owned the property from 1736 to 1909. It was owned by the author Kingsley Amis in 1972, when the poet laureate Cecil Day-Lewis died there." Footnote 90: "The house had an estate of 23 a. in 1778."
  10. ^ William Spencer Clarke, The Suburban Homes of London, 1881, p. 31.
  11. ^ Dod's Peerage, Dod's Peerage, Ltd., 1924, p. 150.
  12. ^ a b c R. H. Super, The Chronicler of Barsetshire: A Life of Anthony Trollope, University of Michigan Press, 1991, pp. 31–34.
  13. ^ Robert Bradford, Martin Amis: The Biography, Pegasus, 2012 [2011], p. 94: "When Kingsley and Jane purchased the property it was called Gladsmuir but Jane discovered its original name from the deeds and also that it had once been owned by Frances Trollope, mother of the more famous Anthony and herself a prodigious writer and literary hostess."
  14. ^ "Frances Trollope", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  15. ^ Super 1991, p. 32; Anthony Trollope, The Bertrams, 1859.
  16. ^ Howard 2011, p. 374.
  17. ^ John Edwin Cussans, History of Hertfordshire, Chatto, 1879, p. 221.
  18. ^ Martin Amis, Experience: A Memoir, Miramax, 2000, p. 184.
  19. ^ For the weathervane, Bridget Cherry, London: North, Yale University Press, 1998, p. 186; for the rest, Amis 2000, pp. 183–184; Howard 2002, pp. 372, 407.
  20. ^ "Gladsmuir House", London Metropolitan Archives.
  21. ^ Howard 2011, pp. 219, 332–338, 348; Andrew Brown, "Loves and letters", The Guardian, 9 November 2002.
  22. ^ Amis 2000, pp. 31–33.
  23. ^ Howard 2011, pp. 364, 372, 374.
  24. ^ Zachary Leader, The Letters of Kingsley Amis, HarperCollins, 2000, p. 714.
  25. ^ Keulks 2003, p. 135; Sansom (Guardian), 3 April 2010.
  26. ^ Leader 2006, p. 609.
  27. ^ Leader 2006, pp. 630, 668.
  28. ^ Leader 2006, p. 614.
  29. ^ Amis 2000, pp. 13–14 (for Sussex Tutors), 121 (for "unknowable debt"), 126 (for the exhibition), 173 (for Exeter).

    Martin Amis, "I was a semi-literate truant ...", Daily Mail, 4 January 2014: "When Jane took me on I was averaging an O-level a year, and read nothing but comics, plus the occasional Harold Robbins and (for example) the dirty bits in Lady Chatterley’s Lover; I had recently sat an A-level in English – the only subject in which I showed the slightest promise – and I failed.

    "After just over a year of Jane's tutelage (much of it spent in a last-ditch boarding crammer in Brighton), I had another half-dozen Os (including Latin, from scratch), three As, and a second-tier scholarship to Oxford. None of this would have happened without Jane's energy and determination. ... One day, early on, she presented me with a reading list: Austen, Dickens, Scott Fitzgerald, Waugh, Greene, Golding."

  30. ^ John Walsh, "Martin Amis: Novelist has lost none of his force in pronouncing on the way we live", The Independent, 21 March 2014.
  31. ^ Bradford 2012, p. 87. For characters based on Rob Henderson, see Alex Bilmes, "Martin Amis is not a jerk", GQ, 4 April 2011, p. 3.

    Also see Harry de Quetteville, "Martin Amis: me and my 'terrible twin', The Daily Telegraph, 19 June 2009.

  32. ^ Amis 2000, p. 25.
  33. ^ Amis 2000, p. 53.
  34. ^ Leader 2006, pp. 614, 633, 642–643, 645. For the wood-panelled study, p. 620; for the ground floor, Bradford 2012, p. 88.
  35. ^ Keulks 2003, p. 136.
  36. ^ Bradford 2012, p. 104; Jeffrey Meyers, Somerset Maugham: A Life, Random House, 2010, pp. 312–313.
  37. ^ Tamasin Day-Lewis, "Tamasin Day-Lewis: Am I the 'leggy temptress' in Martin Amis's new novel?", The Daily Telegraph, 17 February 2010.
  38. ^ Bradford 2012, p. 90.
  39. ^ Bradford 2012, p. 104.
  40. ^ Leader 2006, p. 614; Julie Kavanagh, "The Martin Papers: My Life with Martin Amis", Intelligent Life, Summer 2009.
  41. ^ Leader 2006, pp. 614–616, 631.
  42. ^ Howard 2011, p. 382.
  43. ^ Andrew Brown, "Loves and letters", The Guardian, 9 November 2002; Janet Watts, "Elizabeth Jane Howard obituary", The Guardian, 2 January 2014.
  44. ^ Day-Lewis (Telegraph), 17 February 2010.
  45. ^ Howard 2011, p. 384.
  46. ^ Keulks 2003, p. 284, n. 6, citing Ian Woodward, "A Lovely Couple," Woman's Journal, June 1976, pp. 19–21.
  47. ^ Leader 2006, p. 643.
  48. ^ Leader 2006, p. 667; Bradford 2012, p. 164, for ₤105,000.
  49. ^ Howard 2011, pp. 375, 383; Leader 2006, p. 609.
  50. ^ Brown (Guardian), 9 November 2002.
  51. ^ Howard 2011, pp. 416, 427; Leader 2006, p. 682.
  52. ^ Watts (Guardian), 2 January 2014.
  53. ^ Amis 2000, p. 192.