Thursday, April 15, 2010

The first garden gnome in England

Lamport? Let me see. I have shown you Shortwood House and the Rectory. But there is more.

The first garden gnome in England.

I had forgotten this story, just as I had forgotten that Sir John Farr, for years the Tory MP for Harborough, used to live near Lamport. But Jim Hill Media has reminded me, even though he is not too sure about how to spell Isham:

Sir Charles Ishman was the 10th Baronet of Lamport Hall. As a vegetarian and a practicing spiritualist, he was considered something of an eccentric. He had inherited a love of gardening from his mother and sometime in the mid 1840's, Charles decided he wanted to design a garden on the grounds at Lamport.

Being a bit offbeat, he chose an unusual theme. He chose an Alpine garden with a rockery. He imported over 20 lawn gnomes from Germany and gave them tools as if they were working the rock garden as a mine. The gnomes were the first known in England and many gardeners found them enchanting. Sir Charles had started a minor garden fad.

He goes on to record that the gnomes were disliked by Charles's daughters, who - to their credit - had them all removed after his death. Or so they thought.

One gnome managed to survive in a hidden niche in the rocks. He was rediscovered and is now known as "Lampey" and recognised as the first stately gnome of England.

One other point: Jim Hill Media mentions Sir Gyles Isham, the twelfth and final baronet, who bequeathed the Hall and its contents (gnome included) to the charitable trust that now runs the estate.

Gyles Isham acted in several films in the 1930s and you can find him on IMDB.

And the picture, which shows a replica of Lampey, comes from Wikipedia.


KCLance said...

Sir Gyles was not the final Baronet of Lamport. Just the last to live at Lamport Hall.
He was succeeded by distant cousin Sir Ian, 13th Bart., who was succeeded by his brother Sir Norman, 14th Bart..
The current, 15th baronet is Sir Richard, son of Sir Norman. He chairs the Lamport Trust.

Jonathan Calder said...

Thank you.