A Home for All Seasons by Gavin Plumley - review by Adrian Tinniswood

Adrian Tinniswood

Call the Dendrochronologist

A Home for All Seasons


Atlantic Books 324pp £16.99

Afew years ago, Gavin Plumley and his husband, Alastair, bought a house in the Herefordshire village of Pembridge. It was a good choice: Pembridge is a famously attractive spot. In fact, Pevsner, in a rare burst of enthusiasm, declared it to be one of the prettiest villages in the county, on account of its abundance of black-and-white buildings, ‘hardly disturbed by Georgian brick, though disastrously disturbed by some recent filling stations’.

That was back in 1963. I don’t know if the filling stations are still disturbing the village, but if they are, there are plenty of compensations: a 14th-century church with, so the story goes, the marks of Cromwellian musket balls still showing in its west door; a spectacular pagoda-like bell house dating back to the 1200s; an early 16th-century market hall; 17th-century almshouses; and streets stacked to the gills with picturesquely wonky black-and-white houses. In a glorious throwback to the faux-antiquarian world of Osbert Lancaster’s Drayneflete, the Grade II-listed timber-framed tearoom, which used to be known as The Old Steps, is now called Ye Olde Steppes.

Keen to fit in, yet sensitive to homophobia, Plumley and his husband soon came up against the harsh realities of life in a rural community. No one cared that they were gay, but the local farmer cared rather a lot that their parked car was blocking the way for

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