Monday, April 29, 2013

A Rose-Covered House

Where does your mind wander when you see an image? If you are like me and enjoy a certain kind of novel or mystery set in the English countryside, then you probably swoon at the sight of rose-covered houses. Is there anything more romantic? It is a sight that evokes the enchantment of a fairy tale. Remember the Madeline stories? "In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines..." And it conjures up some of my favorite books and literary characters.   

I can picture a heroine from Henry James, Isabel Archer perhaps, peering through these windows. 

 And behind this window I can imagine characters from Jane Austen's novels -- maybe the Dashwood or the Bennet sisters. Having been forced out of their manor house, they are living in reduced circumstances and residing in a cottage, though a very charming one at that.

This could be the ramshackle castle where the young heroine of I Capture the Castle lived with her eccentric family, dreaming of romance and writing her diary while "sitting in the kitchen sink."

And it is easy to envision a witty Nancy Mitford heroine walking through this door at any moment
with the bucolic landscape of the Cotswolds as her backdrop.

Jane Eyre could easily have looked up and spied these scarlet climbing roses at Thornfield Hall.

 And virtuous May Welland, Newland Archer's fiance in The Age of Innocence, might have trembled as she imagined a not quite suitable female living behind these walls.

This could have been the window through which Miss Mapp first spied her rival Lucia in the Mapp and Lucia  books by E. F. Benson. 

Photo by Kimberly Wold

And Margaret Schlegel of E.M. Forster's Howards End could have gazed up at this rose-covered house and fallen in love with it.

We all have these Proustian moments when we see an image and are taken on a little journey into the past. Rose-covered houses remind me of my trip to the Cotswolds that I took a few years ago. The sight of them also takes me back to some of my favorite books set in the English countryside. Images from travel and books can stay with us forever. We file them away in our memory bank and don't even realize they are there until something sparks a remembrance. And then we are off...

Photos via Pinterest


  1. What a lovely post! I kept trying to guess the book from the roses (I got it right for Jane Eyre!). And I made a new discovery of the Mapp and Lucia novels. I hadn't heard of them before.

  2. What a feast for the eyes and the imagination this is, Sunday! Rose covered cottages remind me of ones I have, be they from books or movies or places, and of places I want to go to. These are breathtaking, and you have conjured up so many of my favorite reads. Thank you.

  3. Sunday, I am now more certain than ever I am going to find a place for a climbing rose. I would love to find myself sitting behind any one of windows you shared. I love the pairing of a character from a cherished piece of literature with a beautiful rose covered wall.

    Oh, I just recently read "I Capture the Castle" and found it charming. I am not familiar with the Mapp and Lucia novel. Sounds like another possible summer read.

  4. Beautiful post! I love the images and the memories.

  5. Sunday, the answer to your fist question...a cottage in the Cotswolds! I have read and loved each and every book that you mentioned, and enjoy any and all books that are similar. You have paired beautiful images to go with beautiful memories, thanks for making my day!

  6. Sunday...i love every picture you placed in this blog. I so want to look in the windows of each house to see what is happening!

  7. My sweetest dreams are made up of images like these. I love the way you have woven literary works between each one.

    In my second attempt at a rose-covered cottage of my own (the first attempt wasn't so successful), I have two baby Eden climbing roses ('Pierre de Ronsard') waiting to be planted tomorrow.


  8. Beautiful images and so evocative with your wonderful imagination as well.

  9. Thank you for hopefully a sight to soon come in our English villages/hamlets.Judith

  10. Love this post. The last picture is from my trip to England last summer. I took that picture standing in front of the home of the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, aka Deborah Mitford. Her home is beautiful (downsized from her previous home at Chatsworth), so it was great fun to see that you selected one of my photos. Her home is in the darling village of Edensor. Here is the link to see the house: