In my last blog post, I took you on a quick tour of Highwic. Today, it’s Ewelme, a historic cottage built by a man with a magnificent name–Vicesimus Lush. Vicesimus means ‘twentieth,’ and he was the twenty-second son of his parents. Little wonder he and his wife decided to come to New Zealand!
Vicesimus went into the church, and wound up as vicar of Howick, a settlement some distance from Auckland (it is now a historic village–I really want to visit!). Like Buckland, he had the problem of what to do with his sons. He wanted them to attend the Church of England Grammar school in Auckland, but they lived too far for the boys to commute. His solution? Build a house for them to live in close to the school and send the boys there in term time, with their sister to chaperone.
The arrangement worked. Vicesimus got promoted, and the entire family moved into the cottage, which was expanded, before the entire family moved to Thames. Vicesimus became ill, and the family moved back to Auckland so that he could be close to his doctor, but his health never recovered. He died, leaving the house to his wife, who promptly upgraded the cottage so that it fit her standards of entertaining.
Only two generations of Lush’s lived in the house, but it remains crammed full of their possessions–a complete collection. It is incredible how much there is in the house. In particular: Books. 2000 of them.
Most of the bookcases are handmade by the family, and you can find them tucked away in odd corners. Unfortunately, I can’t say much for their taste in books, but I can appreciate how much they enjoyed them.
It’s really interesting how different Ewelme and Highwic are despite being built during the same time period. There are two very different sets of priorities evident, the one family valuing entertaining, the other learning. Both families had class, and belonged to the same social circles, but even the choice of the paintings and prints on their walls spoke to their differences. Highwic had Shakespearean characters and prints, Ewelme had religious paintings and sketches of London.
Goes to show you that historic, even in the same time period, doesn’t have one setting.