|A cottage at Haslemere, Surrey Helen Allingham|
Like many parts of Britain the area of Wiltshire we live in is graced with old cottages both thatched and red brick tiled. When I was a child I decided that the tiles were from dragons or sea serpents and I named the cottages adorned with them 'dragon cottages' because they looked as if they had scales. Children's minds are funny things!
|A Green Dragon and his scales|
|Tiles hung on a side of a building|
|This one even has a dragon ridge on it's roof!|
As I grew up elsewhere I did not set eyes upon an English dragon cottage save in books and magazines until I landed upon this sceptred isle in the 70s.
|Magical Cotchford Farm|
The first that I saw in person were in Sussex. I had to make pilgrimages to many favourite authors homes, and to historic houses and gardens. Many of them were hung with red clay tiles. I was in Heaven, but sadly in those days only photographers carried decent cameras and so I have just slightly blurry photo memories of those early halycon times in the English countryside I loved so much.
Cotchford Farm was dear to my heart for two reasons, it had been the home of Winnie The Pooh author A.A. Milne where he wrote the Pooh stories for his young son Christopher Robin and later in the 60s the last home of the very talented but ill fated boy-child, Rolling Stone Brian Jones. There are statues of the Winnie The Pooh characters in the garden and more than a slight air of sorrow pervades it, but the farm house is so pretty.
|Bateman's home of Rudyard Kipling|
Bateman's National Trust
I never tire of looking for buildings hung with red tiles be they humble or grand and now I take photographs. The workers cottages we live in have a few dragon scales and our particular cottage has quite a few Dragons inside and out as we collect them.
I love the elaborate tile decoration which you find all over Britain on cottages, grand houses and shops.
|This is the magnificent Merchant's House, Marlborough, Wiltshire|
|Courtyards and alleys in Marlborough|
This building is cheating a little as strictly speaking these are not tile hung, but built into the fabric of this wonderful old bulding at Kingsclere. I can still imagine them as Dragon scales, for quite a special Dragon. It's a most loved place of mine. The initials on it are of one of the greatest ever racehorse trainers John Porter (2 March 1838 – 21 February 1922) who built Kingsclere on the Hampshire Downs and also founded Newbury Racecourse in Berkshire. During his career he trained racehorses for royalty and his horses won twenty three British Classic races including the Epsom Derby seven times. Some of his most famous horses include the Triple Crown winners Ormonde (1886), Common (1891), and Flying Fox (1899). You can read more about him and Kingsclere here: National Racing Museum.
While I was growing up in America I collected books about England, especially those with illustrations of country cottages inclduing my 'Dragon Cottages'. I knew I'd live here one day and it kept my dream alive to look at them.
One of my favourite artists was Helen Allingham, (26 September 1848 – 28 September 1926) the English watercolourist and illustrator of the victorian era. I know her view of England is a romantic one, but that is the point isn't it? I love the way her paintings are so soft, almost always include animals and birds and do have a dreamy quality to them.
|A cottage at Shere, c.1875|
|Kentish Garden, Helen Allingham|