Leslie's Blog

Country Life magazine

Columbine Hall achieved a major step forward when a photograph of the 1390s jettied house, surrounded by its moat, made the front cover of Country Life.

"Enchanting" - Pevsner

April has been a good month here at Columbine Hall. We have just got our copy of the new Suffolk:West volume of The Buildings of England, compiled by Dr James Bettley and Nikolaus Pevsner. We knew that the house was being photographed and we crossed our fingers that a picture would actually be included in the book.

Two-way traffic

If you look on the new Invitation to View website, you will see a photograph of our most recent painting - a watercolour showing 13 of Hew’s antique keys in realistic detail. One visitor, the artist Lillias August, saw the keys in Columbine Hall’s rooms and asked to borrow and paint them. This is just the most recent example of the two-way traffic between us and our visitors.

A Tidy House

The opening season is about to start on May 1. This means, after months
of untidiness, we have to get the house organised for visitors.
Actually, not that hard after several years’ practice but what gets out
of hand are the books. I review them, I get sent them gratis and I buy
them. So, in the library, there is a pile of perhaps 50 paperbacks in a

Thanks Angus

Houses where people live, as opposed to the National Trust or statelies which never show you the real living rooms, change the whole time. We buy new things, we change the colours of the walls, we move the furniture around. Last month, we bought a large bookcase (here being loaded up) from Soixante Neuf, a Framlingham antique shop.

Pictorial - and how

When we bought seed for the new flowery meadow to be sewn in the New Orchard, the website told us that the annual mixture of seeds would produce a brilliant show from mid-May to the cold weather of November. The website told us right.

A Book for Cooks

How about this?  The Independent has voted my recent book, A Book for Cooks published this autumn by Merrell, one of the 50 best books out this season.

Duck and Grouse

Columbine Hall has a very large chimney, built, we think, in Tudor times. Our builder once reckoned that it might be made up of no fewer than 10,000 small, hand-made bricks (this does seem unlikely.) It services four fires.


We have 83 tomato plants, nearly all in our polytunnel. After a dismal show in July and early August, they have suddenly produced a kilo a day. I chose nine different varieties, nearly all Italian because they do the best: Cuor di Bue (Beef Heart) is the size of a small melon, the biggest tomato I’ve ever seen, Tigerella and Green Zebra are prettily striped.

Spice, girls

I have just finished writing A Book for Cooks (published by Merrell this autumn). This is a list of my 101 favourite cookery books (I collect them.) The final book I chose is the newest, Laura Santtini’s Flash Cooking (Quadrille ) which has thoroughly engrossed me.


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