The Court House, Lower Woodford

The opening line of the Prologue of Leslie Poles Hartley’s novel The Go Between is:

THE PAST is a foreign country: they do things differently there. When I came upon the diary, it was lying at the bottom of a rather battered red cardboard collarbox, in which as a small boy I kept my Eton collars.”

In the first page of Chapter one Leo introduces his dormitory mate and friend Maudsley:

One of these confidences was our respective addresses; he told me his home was called Brandham Hall and I told him mine was called Court Place, and of the two he was the more impressed, for he was, as I afterwards discovered, a snob, which I had not begun to be, except in the world of the heavenly bodies —there, I was a super-snob. The name Court Place predisposed him in my favour, as I suspect it also did his mother."

"But they were mistaken, for Court Place was quite an ordinary house, set a little back in the village street, behind looped chains, of which I was rather proud. Well, not quite ordinary, for part of the house was reputed to be very old; the bishops of Salisbury, it was said, once held their court there; hence the name. Behind the house we had an acre of garden, intersected by a stream, which a jobbing gardener attended to three days a week. It was not a court in the grandiloquent sense of the word, such as Maudsley, I fancy, believed it to be.”

This is his Court Place, actually The Court House, Lower Woodford (previous village names include Little and Nether Woodford).

 “C15-C16 and c1840, on site of Manor of the Bishops of Salisbury. Rendered brick with slate roof, extended to north with flint and brick chequerwork on one bay, separately roofed. Two storeys, main block of 4 bays c1840 added to parallel earlier block built probably after demolition of manor between 1535-1539” 

                                                                                                              Ref https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1284061.

 

 

The stream he mentions is the (tail)race from the Avon running to the west of the main river. A footpath runs past the Court House façade to cross both. Next door is Little Court.

The main story then moves on to the Maudsleys at Brandham Hall (actually Bradenham Hall)  in Norfolk.

The Go Between was published in 1953, made into a film in 1971 and a BBC film for TV in 2015.

 

 

Kerry O’Connor

December 2020

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