Earlier this year, I went to Gloucester for a couple of days’ research at the local archives.
For a while, I’d been amassing research, drawings, notes and trivia about the eccentric, obsessive architect/artist and collector Charles Wade. This all culminated with me wanting to put together a booklet about the first part of his life.
Today, Wade is best known for Snowshill Manor in Gloucestershire, a 17th century house he bought shortly after serving in The Great War and proceeded to fix up and fill with antiques and objects that fascinated him. He spent thirty years doing this before leaving the property and its contents to the National Trust shortly before his death in 1956.
Before embarking on this life’s work, Wade had trained as an architect and worked on several buildings on Hampstead Garden Suburb in northwest London. It’s this period of his life and career that interest me most: his journey from childhood to the decision to found such a place as Snowshill.
So I took some time off to get the words down. Fortunately, and partly as I was writing in chronological order, it flowed smoothly. It turns out that if you do the slow, painstaking work of collecting quotes, dates, examples and context beforehand, one’s brain actually does a pretty good job of condensing it all into a readable format.
I released my ‘new’ booklet in May this year. This blog has been mothballed over the summer but is slowly whirring into life again as the dark nights draw in and my typing fingers get itchy once more.
The response to the booklet so far has been really nice. Friends, family and well-wishers have congratulated me on it, and although it’s not a hefty tome, it has been rather satisfying getting it finished. It’s been an itch I’ve been meaning to scratch for some time now.
The concept that nothing is ever ‘finished’ haunts me wherever I turn, although with books they sort of have to be. Hitting ‘publish’ on an order of a box of printed books is a bit different to doing so on a blog post. But that doesn’t preclude revisions and expansions in future, and I’ve got a (mercifully short) list of things that I could potentially delve into.