Leith Hill Place – National Trust

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October, 2015

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Just back from Leith Hill Place, to celebrate the 143rd birthday of Ralph Vaughan Williams, the much loved English musician and composer.

Ralph was brought up in Leith Hill Place, a large house on the southern slopes of Surrey’s Leith Hill – the highest point in the south of England – and open to the public for the last few years, thanks to the National Trust.

The house isn’t particularly grand or attractive, but its location and musical pedigree are undeniable. To mark RVW’s birthday, a mother and daughter brought The Lark Ascending to dramatic life on piano and violin. I felt my mood soar in synchronicity with the music, imagining the great man composing this masterpiece as he looked out of the windows towards the nearby Weald and, further south, to the mist-engulfed South Downs.

Wander round the house and gardens to see who else lived there – Wedgewoods and Darwins, amongst others – and to soak up RVW’s presence. Make sure you do the soundscape tour to really get under the skin of the man, through his childhood, his university days, his efforts in the Great War, and through his later life.

Great scones and cakes too, although there won’t be a birthday cake there every day.

“Leith Hill Place”:https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/leith-hill-place

Andrew Morris

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