If you look on the new Invitation to View website, you will see a photograph of our most recent painting – a watercolour showing 13 of Hew’s antique keys in realistic detail. One visitor, the artist Lillias August, saw the keys in Columbine Hall’s rooms and asked to borrow and paint them. This is just the most recent example of the two-way traffic between us and our visitors. A few months ago, the Japanese wife of a visitor in a group helped us work out what was happening on a Japanese painted scroll of the Emperor visiting a Kyoto shrine; before that a member of a group from the Winterthur Museum in Delaware speculated that what we were told was a Chinese auspicious deer was more likely to be South-East Asian from Thailand, Vietnam or Laos. We’ve had experts on the creation of medieval moats, on 17th century witch marks (to keep them away, that is) and on the type of saw used to cut up floorboards and beams. We’ve met undiscovered relations and made firm friends.
We’ve also had visitors who disapproved of our decor – and on occasion we have changed things round as a result. Less happy was the Dutch garden group who called our Mediterranean garden ‘horrible.’
Unfortunately, they were right – and we’ve altered that, too. We’re expecting a new round of knowledge, applause and criticism in 2015.
Long may it last.