Saturday, 21 November 2009

Pyrland Hall, Somerset

In 1943 James Lees-Milne, visiting on behalf of the fledgling National Trust, wrote this:

"I had a horrible day with Colonel Pemberton at Pyrland Hall, near Taunton.   He is a fiendish old imbecile with a grotesque white moustache.   When I first saw him he was pirouetting on his toes in the road.   He has an inordinate opinion of himself and his own judgement.   He is absolutely convinced that Pyrland is the finest house in Somerset and he is doing the Trust a great service in bequeathing it.   The truth is the property does not comprise land of outstanding natural beauty and is of insignificant size.   Moreover the house, though large and basically eighteenth century, has been thoroughly Victorianised as to windows and rendering. ..........  I was drawn into several acrimonious arguments with the old man, whom I cordially disliked, for he insisted on contradicting whatever I said.   He gave me an exiguous lunch of bread and cheese, both hard as wood, a baked potato in its skin, dry as sawdust, and a watery apple pie with Bird's custard.   Ugh!   He expected me to return and waste the following day in discussion.   But I had already made up my mind after the first half-hour of my visit.   I could not have borne him or Pyrland an hour longer.   Having hated me like poison, he was nevertheless furious when I left at 4."

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