From Prime Minister to Primroses

Drawing Room: Portrait of Mary Anne Disraeli, Benjamin Disraeli’s wife

It’s that time of year when clear skies and colour – and above all bloom and blossom in whatever form – have to be tracked down, appreciated or sadly ‘missed’ for another season. So it’s off to make the most of our National Trust membership card, as often as possible… here’s to Hughenden Manor, home to Queen Victoria’s favourite Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Disraeli is quoted as saying,

‘We have made a garden in which cavaliers might roam and saunter with their layde-loves’!

We particularly loved a long ‘sit’ (in the March sun) in the walled garden in a sheltered corner against the old warm, red-brick walls, just the ticket after a long, dull winter. Hordes of yellow daffodils (with reflexed petals – so probably ‘February Gold’ – lined the path way from the car-park to the Walled Garden, just fabulous when combined with birdsong and the time to enjoy… The National Trust seem to have developed the habit of growing and selling herbaceous plants to raise funds; we were delighted to find Achillea ‘Cloth of Gold’ which has been on the shopping list for the season, three in a box to pick up on our way home.

Hughenden has a rich history, (much more to be said via Google) . The Manor provided a backdrop for political drama, royal visits and an enduring love story – it’s said that Benjamin was very much in love with his wife Mary-Anne. And it has an equally significant 20th century story to tell when it became the base for a secret map-making operation during the Second World War, not explained until as late as 2004.

Hughenden Manor South front

And as for primroses – a fond tradition – namely that of Disraeli receiving flowers, often primroses from the Queen. As his coffin was lowered into the ground (1881), the attention of the crowded mourners and reporters fixed on a simple primrose wreath amidst the mass of floral tributes. It had been sent by Queen Victoria with a simple message attached:

‘His favourite flowers’.

Glorious white cherry blossom set against a crystal clear blue sky, nothing better for spring paintings…