Garsington Manor

Garsington Manor

Garsington Manor has a long history, having been built in the Middle Ages. Lady Ottoline Morrell and her husband Philip from 1913 to 1928. The couple restored the home during the 20s, creating Italian-style landscaping across the grounds. The Morrells hosted many of their friends over the years at Garsington, including D. H. Lawrence, Siegfried Sassoon, Lytton Strachey, Aldous Huxley, Mark Gertler, and Bertrand Russell; they had many guests during the First World War in particular, when they hosted friends who were conscientious objectors (“Garsington Manor, Oxfordshire, England”).

The friends who spent much of their time at Garsington Manor were not strangers to drama: “It has been described variously as ‘the house of the Ottoline’s,’ a ‘cesspool of slime,’ ‘the setting for a Mozart opera,’ ‘Shandygaff Hall,’ ‘a Boccaccio court,’ ‘a refuge from the storm.’ One thing is

by Unknown photographer, vintage snapshot print, July 1915

sure: Garsington Manor never lacked either attention or comment during the 14 crowded years it was the home of Lady Ottoline Morrell and her husband, Philip” (Seymour). Lady Ottoline had an affair for years with Bertrand Russell, who lived at Garsington for a period of time – Philip was actually aware of the affair and begrudgingly accepting of it, along with Russell’s spouse as well. Philip had also apparently father two children out of wedlock over the course of one summer. One Christmas in particular got out of hand, much like their other parties:

An incident from Christmas 1914 provided some literary fodder. Katherine, Murry, Koteliansky, the artist Mark Gertler, Lawrence, and Frieda were all staying at Gilbert Cannan’s windmill cottage in Buckinghamshire, when someone suggested putting on an improvised play. Things got out of hand – the gathering was so inebriated that they were unable to carve the Christmas pig – and the play descended towards a bacchanalia, with Katherine flirting outrageously with Gertler. This incident gave Lawrence the episode in Women in Love, where Gudrun goes off with the artist Loerke. (Darroch)

Lawrence was one of multiple authors who wrote about Lady Ottoline, often satirizing her. Lawrence depicted her as Hermione in Women in Love, who he said trated her guests “‘like prisoners marshalled for exercise’” (qtd. in Seymour). “Another (Siegfried Sassoon) paid ungallant homage to Ottoline as an eccentric aristocrat – her height, beaky nose and titian hair would always draw attention – in a satiric account of his hostess wobbling her way down a ladder to greet him in a pair of billowing pink silk bloomers” (Seymour). Aldous Huxley wrote about Ottoline as well in Chrome Yellow. Lady Ottoline was far from fond of these depictions. Her friendships with Lawrence and Huxley were ruined after their writing, particularly Huxley, who was living rent-free at Garsington at the time.

However, despite all of the drama and negative attention put on Lady Ottoline, she and Philip did their best to provide a haven for their friends, especially from the war. They provided farm jobs and living quarters for objectors, and showed great hospitality. The farm work helped with the upkeep and cost of the property, but after the armistice Philip and Lady Ottoline had to sell – the land was getting too expensive. Their legacy with the Bloomsbury group lives on, and is forever a staple of Garsington.

Garsington Manor

Anthony LaRocco
Dr. Carpentier
Modern British Literature
20 November 2017
Garsington Manor
Garsington Manor in South Oxfordshire, England has a long and interesting history dating back to the sixteenth century. In the late sixteenth century, a manor house in the town was built using the old buildings of Abbington Abbey. The manor was owned by the Wickham family and the ownership of the building by the Wickhams was a transitional time for the building [“In 1780 Anne Wickham, the heir to the manor, married Thomas Drake Tyrwhitt-Drake of Shardeloes, Bucks (qv), in whose family the manor remained, largely tenanted and unaltered”]. This would be the case until 1914 when Ottoline and her husband Phillip would buy the estate from the Wickham family.
Although the Morrells bought Garsington Manor in 1913, they would not move into the manor until 1915. From the start of the Morrells’ occupancy, Garsington Manor would become a haven for the arts and a refuge from London and more importantly, the war. Robert Gathorne-Hardy notes in Ottoline at Garsington: Memoirs of Lady Ottoline Morrell 1915-1918, “By 1915 life in London had become entirely changed by the War Politics and our old interests had been swept away and there seemed no spot that one touched that didn’t fly open and show some picture of suffering, some macabre of death” (Gathorne-Hardy 31). In other words, Garsington was meant to be an escape from the war and its hectic life and carnage. This would make sense because Phillip Morrel, Ottoline’s husband was part of the anti-war movement, a movement that would involve many other members of the intelligentsia of England. Garsington Manor’s status as a haven for the arts resulted in itself, the birthplace of many literary and artistic ideas. One of the more prolific writers at Garsington Manor was D.H (David Herbert) Lawrence. What was more interesting was that the inspiration for his characters in his works was Lady Ottoline Morrell. One such example was Women In Love. Lady Ottoline Morrell writes in a letter to D.H Lawrence that, “On I read, chapter after chapter, scene after scene, all written, as far as I could tell, in order to humiliate me”. This was Lady Ottoline’s reaction to D.H Lawrence’s novel. D.H Lawrence used Lady Ottoline Morrell as a figure of satire. This in turn leads to many others to mock and satirize her. What made her a figure of satire so much? Lady Ottoline was known for two things primarily; her dress and her many affairs (Lady Ottoline was known to have affairs with Lawrence, Bertrand Russell, and Siegfried Sassoon to name a few). This made her a perfect target for attack. Other literary connections existed at Garsington. Men such as Siegfried Sassoon, Aldous Huxley, and many of Virginia Woolf’s Bloomsbury Group also spent time at Garsington.
Besides the literary connections, Garsington Manor was also known as a symbol of luxury. One of the most notable changes done by the Morrells was the famed Italian style gardens. The Villa Capponi near Florence, Italy inspired the garden itself. The garden also had literary influences as well. One such example is in Virginia Woolf ‘s short story Kew Gardens. The story itself is concerned about conversations around the garden and the garden at Garsington Manor is the influence of the garden in the short story. The interior at Garsington Manor is also one of greatest importance. In the painter David Garnett’s autobiography The Flowers of the Florist “The oak panelling had been painted a dark peacock blue-green; the bare and sombre dignity of Elizabethan wood and stone had been overwhelmed with an almost oriental magnificence: the luxuries of silk curtains and Persian carpets, cushions and pouffe”. Ottoline made Garsington not only a place for literary figures to meet but also a chance for Ottoline to show off Garsington. It was the garden and the interior of the house that made Garsington Manor its reputation. The Morrells would eventually sell the manor in 1928.

Garsington Manor went through quite a number of owners and purposes after the Morrells. Its most known purpose after the ownership by the Morrells was its status as an opera house thanks partly to Leonard and Rosalind Ingrams, who owned the property from 1982 to 2005, the year Leonard died. Garsington Opera House would remain at its location until 2010 where it was moved to nearby Wormsley Estate but still keeps the title Garsington Manor.

Works Cited Page
“GARSINGTON MANOR, Garsington – 1001095| Historic England.” , Garsington – 1001095| Historic England, Jan. 2000, Web. Accessed 19 Nov 2017.
Ailwood, Sarah, and Melinda Harvey. Katherine Mansfield and Literary Influence. Edinburgh University Press, 2015.
Robert Gathorne-Hardy (ed.), Ottoline at Garsington: Memoirs of Lady Ottoline Morrell 1915 1918, Knopf. 1975.
Life, Country. “Garsington Manor Launches to the Market.”, Country Life, 22 Sept. 2015, news/garsington-manor-launches-to-the-market-11957. Accessed 19 Nov 2017.

Simkin, John. “Ottoline Morrell.” Spartacus Educational, Spartacus Educational, Aug. 1997, Accessed 19 Nov 2017.

Woodforde, Giles. “First View of Garsington’s New Home.” The Oxford Times, 10 June 2010, Accessed 19 Nov 2017