The Book of Marston Bigot: The Story of Marston House and the Earls of Cork and Orrery by Michael McGarvie newly listed for sale on the wonderful BookLovers of Bath web site!
Published: Barracuda in association with Foster Yeoman, 1987, Hardback in dust wrapper.
Signed by the author on the reverse of the first blank unverified and reflected as such in the lack of premium. Jacket illustration: Marston House, the south front, in September 1987 from a painting by Ken Mercer, commissioned by Foster Yeoman Limited. Illustrated by way of: Black & White Photographs; Colour Plates; Maps to the endpapers and blanks; A limited printing of ? copies of which this is number 293.
From the cover: There is in the English landscape an indefinable quality, a certain finesse born of man in the shaping of field and furrow, the planting of ancient trees, the mantling of watercourse and mere and, above all, the statement afforded by a great house. Long after the first men had whispered over the surface of the land, and the Saxon Aethelfrith made his mill-mark; after the Norman FitzRichard built a church, and the hollow crown of the King of the Romans cast its slight shadow; long after the monks of Witham Priory rode the Royal forest paths, and the Bigots brought another name, the marsh settlement lured men of violence and vision. Theirs were the beginnings of the deep patina of the past that overlays the story of this place a sometime sad, sometime solemn, and always stimulating narrative of men, of money and of Marston House. As Bigots faded, Stourtons burned bright awhile, extinguished by the hangmans silken rope. There came then John Symes, and architect Smythson, to lay the seed of greatness in the Somerset soil. Within half a century, manor and mansion were sold by tycoon Hippisley to a man called Boyle. Thus began the Orrery odyssey. Three strands weave Marston and the Earls of Cork and Orrery closer and closer as the centuries and generations pass one upon the other a deepening affection that became a love, and then an obsession with estate, house, the very land; the making and the spending of money, and the spiraling debts of aristocratic extravaganzas, buildings and plantings, difficult wives and damnable disputes; and a strand of literary talent, touching the very hem of genius, yet never quite achieving the noblest heights.
The Boyles, Earls of Cork and Orrery, and their many scions, outliers, in-laws and loves combined to produce, despite their Irish nobility, that essential Englishnessof the gifted amateur literary, landlordly and Liberal. Throughout all their deeds, their dramas and debts, they returned time and again to Marston, laying a cloak pf care and affection over the place, until the thread finally snapped in 1904. Eighty years later, near-ruined, ripe for demolition, decayed and destitute, the grand old mansion once more cast its potent spell its quality now part of the landscape, not to be ripped from the earth for mean flats, model industry or the rectangular rectitude of a modern office plaza.
Yeoman of Somerset, men and women who hewed stone from the heart of the countryside, saw in this house a fit place to offer a return, and Marston House was restored. This book celebrates the house, and remembers the people of its past it is an affecting tale well told, and both a sadness for its inescapability, but a triumph for the hand of man, raising up once more an Englishmans great house upon the surface of the land.
Very Good in Very Good Dust Wrapper. Gently faded at the spine of the dust wrapper. Edges of the text block lightly tanned. Text complete, clean and tight.
Blue boards with Gilt titling to the Spine. 184 pages. Index. 10½” x 8¼”.