Dawson – a faithful servant

I have a passion for old photographs and often buy books of old postcards which I study intently. There are often photographs of stately homes and their staff – parlour maids, kitchen staff, butlers and garden workers. I sometimes reflect upon the life of gardeners in such an establishment. They usually spent their entire lives working the same garden from the age of 12 or 14 onwards until they died or retired in their sixties. This must have been a routine which changed little during the 19th century.

When visiting National Trust houses I always enjoy visiting the gardens and seeing the potting sheds, greenhouses, hot houses, tool sheds and all the other buildings necessary for a team of gardeners.

Dawson, one of the stories in When Reason Dreams, is a such a gardener from the 19th century whose presence still haunts the garden which he worked for decades. He knew the owners and their descendants, he knew the history of the house, its periods of happiness and sadness. He had become part of the fabric of the house, but he is a benign presence there to help and advise.

I live in a house originally built around 1300 with a burgage plot or garden which has been tilled for 700 years. When working in the garden I often wonder who has tilled the land before me.

When Reason Dreams is available from independent bookshops, Winstone’s and Amazon.