................. by Norman Thelwell.
This is a book that I picked up at a second-hand book sale last October. It looked very familiar - but I never know with old country books if it's because we had a copy or because we sold a copy at the local Country Shows (we bought and sold second hand farming and country side books for 3 or 4 years in the early 2,000's). I was pleased to find when I got home that it wasn't in my book-of-books-read.
A Millstone Round My Neck is the story of the restoration of an old watermill and mill house in Cornwall during the late 1960's and early 70's.
Thelwell was an author, landscape artist, cartoonist and illustrator best know for his books of pony cartoons.
Norman Thelwell was born in 1923 and after some time in the army he took a degree in art and became a teacher. He then went freelance as a regular contributor to Punch magazine. His first book of cartoons was published in 1957.
He was very interested in architecture and old buildings and in the late 1960's he and his wife bought Addicroft Mill near Liskeard in Cornwall, an old disused water mill, mill house and some derelict cottages, for £4,250. In the book the mill is called Penruin.
They spent several years restoring first the mill house and then the mill. The book tells the story of the restoration, the unhelpful builders and the awful weather. All complemented by his line drawings.
Then there are many stories about his visits there for fishing with a group of fishing friends, for painting with a group of painting friends and with his family.
By the time the book was published in 1981 they had already sold the mill and house and bought and restored a house in Hampshire, which he wrote about in 'A Plank Bridge by a Pool' published in 1978. He lived in Hampshire for the rest of his life and died in 2004.
Did you enjoy the book? Was it a good read, fun? You didn't say.ReplyDelete
Fun? It was an interesting read . I only finish books that I'm enjoying!Delete
I was interested to know in that his pony cartoons were always humorous and I wondered if his humour came through in the book. We obviously review books differently.Delete
I loved Thelwell's pony cartoons when I was younger. A visual chuckle each time. xxReplyDelete
I remember that the library I worked in had lots of his cartoon books back in the 70's.Delete
I remember the pony book cartoons. John Seymour is my favourite smallholding writer. He must have inspired thousands of people to get allotments and smallholdings?ReplyDelete
John Seymour certainly gave me the idea for smallholding - we only found out much later that what he wrote about he didn't often do himself!Delete
My Mum has just been showing me the photos of his art which they have on display at Mottisfont [Nat Trust] a the moment. One was a portrait he did when he was 10....it was amazing. ArilxReplyDelete
I'm guessing his home in Hampshire was close to Mottisfont?Delete
He lived near Romsey, and when my dad was working for my aunt and uncle in their electrical shop, Mr Thelwell requested a home visit for a quote for a repair to an iron! My dad thought he was a tight youknowwhat! Didn't say what the house was like though.ReplyDelete
I'm now looking out for the other book to see what he did with the house and land in HampshireDelete
We’ve got a shelf of Thelwell books in the shop and I’m sure this is amongst them. Probably all came from the same house in Hampshire. Currently speed-reading for book group (and not enjoying) Illyrian Spring by Ann Bridge, first published in 1935 and reissued by Daunt Books in 2012. It’s one of those running away from your husband books - a course only available to the very rich in those days - and therefore rather annoying in its twee perfectionism - a bit like Elizabeth von Arnim’s books. Sarah in SussexReplyDelete
I've never read any Ann Bridge. I'm sure they were in libraries in the 1970s - your description doesn't make me want to look for one to read!Delete
I adore Thelwell's drawing.ReplyDelete
He was a good landscape artist and cartoonist. I prefer the drawings of houses rather than poniesDelete
I've just ordered this book, Sue, my curiosity sparked by your post. Upton Cross is the next village to mine, both PL postcodes. I tried Googling the mill, but couldn't find much about it. I'd love to find it and see what state it's in now. Thanks for the write-up.ReplyDelete
I had a search online and came up with something about it selling a while ago and the info on it's grade 2 listing in 1987Delete
He was an interesting man with all kinds of interesting. A good readReplyDelete
I like his drawings in the book - it was an interesting readDelete
It's hard to imagine being able to buy all that property for just over £4,250 isn't it. I used to like his pony sketches when I was little, although I have never actually liked horses and ponies.ReplyDelete
Long time since property was that cheap and not many watermills left to rescue nowDelete
Those line drawings are lovely. Quite some talent he had - Artist and author, clever bloke.ReplyDelete
Alison in Wales x
His line drawing illustrations make the book so interestingDelete
He was a great draftsman in his drawing. Those hilarious little girls bouncing on the backs of huge horses! He sounds like a bit of an oddity as a person. I wonder if I can get hold of his books.ReplyDelete
He was an extremely talented individual. This book sounds like a fabulous read. I love illustrations showing renovation and design. Showing the before and after state of a building or home is always of interest to me.ReplyDelete
Being horse and pony mad (but too poor to be part of the 'pony set') when young I devoured his books. He was an amazingly talented artist.ReplyDelete
Wasn't he a cartoonist too - horses I seem to remember? He can certainly draw.ReplyDelete
You are a terrible influence..... I checked the local very large library system, nope, no "Millstone...". So then I looked on line at a big used book store in a near by (east coast US) city - they had one copy. I bought it.ReplyDelete
Very versatile. Cartoonist as well as author and draftsman.ReplyDelete
Lovely illustrations. Sounds like an interesting bookReplyDelete
That sounds like a very interesting read. Love the line drawings he made.ReplyDelete