May 2016 – News Letter

Dear All,

The weather is getting warmer, and summer is on its way.   Now is the time to get out the diary, and plan your visits to all those Pulham parks and gardens that you want to see.   Or perhaps you will be able to come to meet us at one of our presentations?   There are some interesting bookings coming up over the next few months.

‘The Pulhams of Broxbourne’

Val and I have done three presentations since my last News Letter.   The first was for the Broxbourne U3A Group at Broxbourne Civic Hall on Thursday, 17th March, for which we had a grand turn-out of about 320 people.   The only problem was that we hit a ‘howling mike’ situation, which meant that I was concerned that some people might have had difficulty hearing clearly everything that was said.   However, it couldn’t have been too bad, because we had a lovely note from the Secretary afterwards – she felt sorry for the people who were unable to attend.   ‘What a superb talk they missed . . .’

160511 - Civic Hall Combo

Fig 1 shows the guests assembling and Val in action.   As you can see, it was quite a large screen – a lot of it beyond the reach of a pointer . . .

Our second talk was for the Hunsdon Local History Society on a rather wet 25th April.   This was a much smaller event, but most enjoyable because it was local to where members of both our families live, and several of them braved the elements to support us.

Another Great Day in Woodbridge

Wednesday, 4th May, was a very special day, because the Melton Local History Society invited us to visit Woodbridge to give one of our ‘Pulhams of Broxbourne’ presentations – except that, this time, we included some additional local pictures, and called it ‘The Pulhams from Woodbridge’.   This is the town where our story begins, because James 1 was born in Cumberland Street, Woodbridge, in 1793, and his brother, Obadiah, in 1803, and they both began their professional lives as apprentices to the local firm of John and William Lockwood, Master Builders and Cement Manufacturers.   The story of how they progressed from there; of how the firm of James Pulham and Son was founded, and the work they did, is all recounted in Rock Landscapes: The Pulham Legacy, and throughout the many articles contained on this website, so there is no point in repeating it here.

 160511 - Cumberland StreetFig 2  –  Cumberland Street, Woodbridge, today

On our way in, we stopped off at the entrance to Cumberland Street to take an up-to-date photograph of the cottage in which the Pulham brothers were born and brought up – shown in Fig 2.   The plaque on the wall tells us that the original cottages were built in 1650, and that they were ‘rebuilt’ and modified from six cottages to four in 1973.   We understand that the far section of three cottages were originally four, and the cottage to the left was originally two, and that the Pulhams’ cottage was what is now No. 54 – just beyond the archway.   William Pulham, their father, ran a shoemaker’s business from here, and he and his wife brought up eight children.

We were invited by the Society to a most enjoyable lunch at the Coach and Horses, and our generous host was Sarah Margittai.   The occasion was made even more special because we were joined by two other members of the Pulham family, with their wives, and by Pam Shepherd, a Committee Member of the Suffolk Gardens Trust, with her partner, Paul.   Going up the left-hand side of the table in Fig 3, we see Jay Pulham (wife of Chris), Valerie Christman, Pam Shepherd, myself and Ian Denney, who is directly descended from Obadiah Pulham.   Going up the right-hand side is Chris Pulham – directly descended from Edward Pulham, grandfather of James 1 and Obadiah – Pam’s partner, Paul, Sarah Margittai and Sue Denney.   Chris is the genealogist who very kindly gave me all the details that enabled me to use the Pulhams’ family tree in my book and presentations.

160511 - Coach and Horses Lunch 2

Fig 3  –  Lunch at the Coach and Horses

Our venue for the afternoon was the most attractive Church of St Andrew the Apostle, in Melton.   This was our first presentation in a church, but everything went well – about fifty people came along, and the afternoon was brought to a close with tea and biscuits in the Church Hall.

 160511 - Before the Talk.Fig 4  –  Getting ready to begin – with Pam Shepherd, Ian Denney and Chris Pulham (left), and Brian Taylor (right)

Fig 4 was taken just before the start of our talk, and the left-hand picture shows Val and I with Pam Shepherd, Ian Denney and Chris Pulham.   The right-hand picture shows us with Brian Taylor, who lives in the Pulhams’ old cottage in Cumberland Street (Fig 2).   He is the person who so generously invited us into his home so that I could take a picture of Val drinking a cup of tea in the same room that her great-grandmother’s grandfather was born and brought up more than 200 years ago.   This picture was first used in my article, ‘A Fascinating Day in Woodbridge’ – published in December 2015 – and is reproduced again here in Fig 5.

151203 - Woodbridge Cumberland Street 3

Fig 5  –  Val with her cup of tea in Cumberland Street

We have some more interesting presentations lined up over the next few months.   We shall be talking to:

  • The Waltham Abbey Gardening Club on Friday, 10th June
  • The Welwyn and District Local History Society on Tuesday, 28th June – this is a special event as part of the Welwyn Festival Week
  • The Hertford Branch of the U3A on Monday, 4th July
  • A special Pulham Celebration event at Waddesdon Manor, on Wednesday, 21st September

Full details of all these, and further presentations, can be found on our Presentation Diary page, and we look forward to meeting you on one of these occasions.

‘Site of the Month’ Reaches its Final Chapter

It is just five years now since I began my monthly series of website articles under the heading of ‘Site of the Month’, in which I have discussed and illustrated a different Pulham garden or park creation each month.   Each one is the equivalent of a new Chapter in ‘Rock Landscapes: The Pulham Legacy’, which means that, with more than 40 prestigious sites described in the book, and with 60 ‘Sites of the Month’ now added on the website, I have managed to bring more than 100 Pulham sites to the attention of my followers.

I hope you have had a chance to read and enjoy them all, but I left a very special one ‘til last.   It is one of my favourite Pulham creations, and concerns the incredible gardens at Dutton Homestall – now called Homestall Manor – which James 3 created in 1902 for Lord ‘Tommy’ Dewar, the whisky magnate.   I would have loved to include these gardens in my book, but decided not to because the house was in the process of changing hands at the time of publication, and I wanted to give the new owners an opportunity to comment before it went into print.   Don’t miss out on this one – you can see a picture of the gardens in Fig 6, and you can follow a direct link to the article here.

5-1-60-07 - Dutton Homestall from Summerhouse

Fig 6  –  The gardens and terrace at Dutton Homestall

You can find a complete listing of all the articles published in my ‘Site of the Month’ series on the ‘Site of the Month’ Cover Page.    They are now listed in alphabetical sequence of both feature and town, which means, for example, that ‘The Acacias’ fernery, Reading, is listed under both ‘Acacias’ and Reading.

This does not mean that I shall be hanging up my boots now, of course.   I have one or two further Pulham projects in mind, and will be keeping you posted in future News Letters.

This Month’s Jigsaw Puzzle

JP05 - Danesfield Italian Garden The monthly Pulham Picture Puzzles are proving popular, so why not check out the one for May?   It features the beautiful Italian Water Garden at Danesfield House in Medmenham, Surrey, discussed and lavishly illustrated in Chapter 28 of Rock Landscapes.   Just click on the picture and move the pieces around.

 ‘A Wonderful Book to Own . . .’ 

AGS1 - Rock Landscapes Front Cover Don’t forget that ‘Rock Landscapes: The Pulham Legacy’ is still available at a very special discount price from my website.   More than 40 of the Pulhams’ most prestigious creations are fully discussed and beautifully illustrated with some stunning photographs taken by Professional Gardens Photographer, Jenny Lilly.

Check out the CONTENTS’ Page here, and visit our ‘Book Shop’ Page, which provides a direct link to the publisher’s website, ACC Art Books.   All you have to do is follow the link and enter the ‘PL1’ Promotion Code in order to buy a copy at a massive 40% discount from the RRP of £35!

Yes, £21 (+ £4 P&P) = £25!  

The book has been critically acclaimed by all the major Professional Reviewers, whose comments can be summed up simply as:

‘A Wonderful Book to Own, and the Perfect Present for a Garden-Loving Friend’

 Click on the Image now to go direct to the Book Shop.

Happy reading, and my Very Best Wishes to all my readers.

Yours Sincerely,



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