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House where FitzGerald worked on the Rubaiyat gets a new lease of life

February 27, 2014

Garry Garrard has sent us this interesting news of a place dear to the heart of Edward FitzGerald.

goldingtonI used to live in Bedford until 10 years ago and I came to know quite a bit about Edward FitzGerald’s frequent visits there.  In my book (details below) I said that he must have done much of his early work on the Rubaiyat during visits to the house of his close friend, William Kenworthy Browne (see EFG letters, June 5, 1857, from which you can conclude that here he did some of his Latin versions).  I concluded the comments with the sad news that the house  – Goldington Hall – was derelict and likely, at best, to be converted into apartments.  I was privately concerned that the whole property might be burned accidentally (or even intentionally) resulting in demolition and the building of yet another estate.

I recently returned to Bedford and I received some confused input about Goldington Hall from old friends.  I investigated and I am delighted to say that all my fears have been allayed.  There was a fire at Goldington Hall in 2009 or 2010, but it must have been a modest one, resulting only in repairs to part of the roof.  The house was subsequently bought by the Manor Building Preservation Trust and has been renovated and modernised to make it suitable for (very luxurious!) modern living. It is now on sale, as a seven bedroom, six bathroom property with two acres, for £3.4million. You can find the details on this link: http://www.chewtonrose.co.uk/CWR080608076 . There are 30 photos. So the house lives again.

It’s nice to hear a story like that these days.  We are sure that Edward FitzGerald would be glad.

* Garry Garrard  A Book of Verse: The Biography of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam,  Stroud, Sutton Publishing, 2007.

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