John Sergeant Visits Lamport
In May the veteran broadcaster John Sergeant turned up with a film crew from the BBC for a feature on our famous Rockery and on Lampy, the world’s oldest garden gnome. All being well, this will be broadcast during the BBC’s coverage of the Chelsea Flower Show. The question on the lips of the nation is ... will Lampy himself be invited to Chelsea? Visitors can see the Rockery whenever the gardens are open to the public. Lampy prefers to stay in the warmth of the Hall, and can be seen when the Hall is open.
John Sergeant also visited our revamped Museum of Rural Life, which explores the rural history of Northamptonshire. It contains a variety of machinery together with new display boards explaining the items on show.
Mr Sergeant said: “Things have changed so rapidly in my lifetime, so it is extremely important to have places like this. The idea of life in the countryside and how people lived is very important. This is how people like me were brought up. It was a completely different way of life, when so many people worked in the fields.”
Why not become the proud owner of your very own original garden gnome? Porcelain replicas are available to purchase from the Hall priced at just £30.00 (+ £5.00 P&P). For more information, please contact the Hall on 01604 686272 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Lamport archives were mentioned in the May 2013 edition of Piecework, an American magazine about the history of lace:
“One of the earliest records of English-made lace is in a letter from Elizabeth Isham of Lamport Hall, Northamptonshire, written to her father about 1630. Attached to the letter are five small samples of lace with their individual prices penned alongside, from 4 to 10 old pence per yard”.
The letter itself is deposited at the Northamptonshire Record Office, along with the vast majority of the Isham family papers, a fascinating record of life at Lamport over four centuries (1560 to 1976).
The Launch of the three seater toilet
The Easter weekend saw a remarkable 3- seater toilet being opened to the public for the first time in more than a century – but not for actual use! This was featured by Anglia TV as well as by BBC Radio Northampton and the local press.
Our 18th century outdoor toilet, known as the Bog House, is situated in the Little Garden, very near to the Hall itself. The evidence suggests that there were three seats along one wooden bench, with no partitions between. As there was no running water or sanitation, there were buckets below the seats. These would be emptied by the gardeners and used as fertiliser.
It may all sound rather primitive to modern ears, but it was environmentally friendly. It’s worth remembering that many of the villages in Northamptonshire were not connected to the mains sewage system until the 1950s.
Interpretation panels in the Bog House help to explain the history of the toilet, as well as the 10-acre gardens surrounding the Hall.
The Culture Show comes to Lamport
On 9th March BBC2 broadcast a fascinating edition of The Culture Show, which featured a particular painting at Lamport. The shots of the Hall and grounds in the snow were superb.
The programme was promoting a nationwide initiative called Your Paintings. Many famous art collections (including the collection of 139 paintings on display at Lamport) can now be found on the Your Paintings website, making art collections like ours more accessible to the public.
On the programme the leading art historian Bendor Grosvenor came across a painting at the Bowes Museum in County Durham of a woman called Olivia Porter, and he was convinced it was an original by van Dyck. He then looked on the Your Paintings website, and discovered that there is an identical painting at Lamport: so was ours the original?
Bendor joined the BBC crew and presenter Alastair Sooke here at Lamport, where they studied our picture in detail. Bendor concluded ours was a very high studio copy, probably done very soon after van Dyck did the original. We think ours was acquired by Sir Thomas Isham in 1675, and has remained at Lamport for the past 338 years.
All in all, a very interesting programme, which makes one appreciate the sheer quality of the collection at Lamport, accumulated by the Isham family over four centuries and still intact to this very day.
Lampy hits the headlines
Lamport’s famous garden gnome hit the national headlines in February, when it was disclosed that gnomes will make an appearance at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. The Independent hailed our gnome as ‘the David Beckham of garden gnomes’, which is praise indeed. We were mentioned also by The Daily Telegraph and by the Northampton Chronicle & Echo. Sir Charles Isham, the 10th Baronet, who is credited with introducing the garden gnome to England, would doubtless be amused by all the attention.