Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Kindred Spirit Gathering ~ Memories to Cherish! Part I

As many of you long time readers of Blueberry Cottage know, I host a group called Take Peace on Yahoo.com. (We are now using Facebook to connect also and loving it! ) We are all devoted friends of Tasha Tudor and her art and lifestyle. Seven years ago I organized a private gathering of our group to tour Tasha's gardens. We also, briefly, got to meet and speak with Tasha herself. A lovely photograph commemorating the event was taken with us all in front of her barn. Friendships amongst us were forged that day and it is a day I will never forget.

Fast forward seven years to May 14, 2014. Another trip was brainstormed by member and friend LaVonne. She enlisted the help of the ever sweet and lovely Linda, who has a knack for organizing the most wonderful tea parties!  LaVonne set up a private tour of Tasha's home and gardens for our group.  I will be ever so grateful for her doing this.

We all met at the Rookery, the location of the Tudor Family's business. Formerly this was Bethany Tudor's home, built by Seth Tudor. It's a charming little home perfect for the family business.  The day was a bit overcast, with the sun poking its head out here and there, not too warm, yet not too chilly, a perfect New England day. We made the longish trek to Tasha's by dirt road, peeking into the tall pine trees to spot mushrooms-aptly identified by LaVonne.

{photo credit Rookery Ramblings Blog}

Arriving at the gate, we all just took a breath and paused. The gate, so many times photographed in different seasons, the entry to the world we all loved and wanted to see more of.  At this point we all broke off into groups with Seth and Marjorie Tudor, our tour guides.  I was to be with Marjorie's group. Our name tags had an illustration of Tasha's-either a boy or girl, to tell us who we were to tour with, how clever.

{photo credit Rookery Ramblings Blog}

Marjorie started us with a visit to the marionette theatre--how excited I was! You see, there were two rooms I wanted to see most and this was one of them. Entering from the barn you walked down a tiny corridor Seth built into the theatre.  Straight ahead was the staging, with well worn red curtains haning a bit askew. Marjorie told us the theatre would be getting a makeover in the future. I thought it charming as ever. We were allowed to go behind the curtains up to where the marionettes would have been manipulated. Oh how I wish some of the marionettes were still in residence-especially the corgi orchestra. Sadly, many of these treasures were sold off when Harry Davis started his trouble. If any fans bought these treasures, how wonderful if they would consider donating them back to the family! There were antique wool baskets the size I have never seen! Marjorie gave one and it is just beautiful. There were also spinning wheels to look at. Tasha's flax wheel, so often spoke about was housed there. Just to see it was surreal!
The wooden benches seen in Tasha's illustrations one could imagine filled with eager guests, ready for the show to go on.  My imagination wandered and I pictured Tasha manipulating the marionettes and myself as a
 child, enjoying a show.

We walked back into the barn where we saw barrels and baskets galore. A peek into the goats quarters and the milking stanchion brought smiles to my face. How I love goats too. Tasha's canoe, made by artist and designer Henri Vallencourt still waited patiently in the rafters for another glide across her pond. Mr. Vallencourt I believe, is related to me on my father's side of the family. I am going to research this more.

Past the original outhouse that was in house we walked. My eyes couldn't take in all that there was. The crocks, firkins, yelloware, tole painted pieces, candles--there was so much to take in. All the little places we've seen Tasha create in. As I walked into the kitchen, the large, black woodstove commandeered the room. Next to it was the rocking chair, looking small in comparison, the worn chair pad evidence of an owner well acquainted with this comfortable spot. Marjorie told us Tasha would sit here with her tea in her lap and feet propped up on the stove to absorb the warmth on chilly days and eves. Across from the stove was a beautiful shelf filled with pink lustre ware china. I took in all the tiny details of these beautiful pieces. They looked lovingly used, not show pieces in a case. Tasha's small table with her brass candle sticks and beeswax candles looked poised to be lit, and fill the room with a soft glow and lovely scent.

As we meandered about I realized Tasha's house was just as she described, snug like a chipmunk's nest. The rooms were small and cluttered, but not in a bad way. Everything had a place and was used. We saw the tin kitchen she used, of which there was two in the room, her table, where she would illustrate and draw, left as if she were expected to return soon. The fireplace with settle, where so many of her nights must have been spent. Her formal parlour with the overstuffed blue sofa. All the pictures were becoming a reality.

The dollhouse is in a little alcove just before you enter Tasha's bedroom. Marjorie told us she and a friend had spent three days putting it together. There were so many little things to take in. I was so glad it was back where it should be. Thaddeus and his dear Emma with all their belongings, collected over a lifetime. I don't think any other dollhouse could compare. I loved the little sparrow post letters displayed.

As we entered Tasha's room I just drew in a breath. A small room, overlooking the front garden . Tasha would have a beautiful view of her plants while being able to hear her beloved doves cooing in the dovecote. An old birdcage was in front of the window, a witness to the life once held there in that room. There were many books and I was anxious to see what Tasha would have chosen to help her sleep. I was happy to see Jane Austen on the shelf and many other authors of old I admire. An antique white coverlet graced the four poster bed.

The next room we were escorted into was the second room I most wanted to see. The bathroom. Does that sound silly?I know, I know, why would I wish to see Tasha's bath!  But that is the truth-I really wanted to see her copper tub! And it didn't disappoint, it was stunning. A wooden enclosure was built around it, the wood soft with age. The tub needed a good polish-as copper often does, but it was a majestic antique piece.  Tasha's sink area held her hair brush and comb, old and new perfume bottles. Another stunning marble piece. The old fashioned toilet with pull chain still had the little sign on it about yanking the chain too hard.  Yet the most interesting thing about that bathroom was what I thought was a sink resting in the tub.  I looked closely and thought maybe they were replacing the sink, however, on closer inspection I noticed the drain was quite large. My suspicions were peaked and I asked Seth who confirmed it was indeed the inside to Tasha's commode. A blue canton toilet bowl that was just stunning! I think I gasped-then had a good laugh. Of course this should come as no surprise our beloved Tasha was a bit eccentric after all.  The next day I was speaking with Bethany Tudor and she told me they referred to it as "the royal crapper". Me and the girls had a grand laugh over that!

{a similiar pic of the bowl but this is a sink}

The upstairs bedrooms were next and once again you were struck by the sheer number of books in the halls, in the rooms and tucked here and there. Many gardening books, cookbooks, herbal books, so many. The four poster bed in the upstairs room overlooking the garden was a beauty and covered in another antique white coverlet. This room had a beautiful old, very worn red chest.

The garden, pond and grounds came next. Winslow took over this part of the tour and shared how he is restoring the "pinks garden". I will try to come back and see it. Winslow is doing a lot of the repairs and he is doing a wonderful job! The peony garden is also being updated as well as the vegetable patch. The pond still holds it magic for me and I can just picture Tasha's corgyn taking a dip on a hot summer day. Seth accompanied us and pointed out many of the native trees to us.

We ended the tour with lemonade and cookies with fresh fruit provided by the Tudor's. They were so gracious and welcoming! It really felt like we were at a family gathering. Amy and Marjorie even commented how relaxed they were with us.  Amy brought her and Winslow's two darling children along and that was such a treat. Ellie was shy but still talkative, with a whisper of a sweet voice. She enjoyed seeing all our dolls we brought along. The Tudor's let us photograph all our dolls on the Rookery steps. Their first official tea party at Tasha's!

 There were many more dolls. Some of us own Hitty's, French dolls, handmade dolls. Quite the lovely collection!

* There is much more to tell as we all gathered for a grand tea and crafting. That and more ( a member and I had a chance to visit with Bethany Tudor) will come in my next post -A Kindred Spirit Gathering ~ Memories to Cherish, Part II. 

Want to connect with us? Join us here:  Take Peace FaceBook page.

Want to read other tour members memoires of the trip? Visit these lovely ladies:

Lady Linda
Audrey Eclectic


  1. Love, love, love! So fun to relive it through your words!

  2. Hi Suzanne....you write so well and it's a pleasure to read your remembrances of this special trip. I am still working on writing mine up, bit by bit. I just don't want to forget this and want to get it down on my blog.
    Much love,

  3. Oh, how lovely! What a beautiful post. Is sounds just as I always imagined it would be. =) I have always been a fan of Tasha and her beautiful paintings. I paint Corgis too! =) Thank you for such a beautiful post. Blessings and Sunshine, Valerie

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your visit with us! After Tasha's death, I wondered how the family would hold things together. It looks like they're doing a wonderful job!



  5. What an exciting adventure. I'm glad you were able to make the trip. Thank you for sharing it with us in your descriptive writing. It opens our eyes to see what you had seen. I'll never forget when I first read Drawn From New England in the 1990s. I found it charming. It remains my favorite of the books about her life published since.

  6. I love this post Suzanne!!! What a treat to read it with a cup of tea in hand. Your descriptions are wonderful I made me feel as if I was on the tour as well....many thanks for that!

  7. Hi Suzanne, I enjoyed reading your post about your private tour of Tasha Tudor's house and garden, as well as the posts by Linda and Audrey. I remember everything you wrote about but would not have been able to write about them as you did. I will have to add a link to my post to yours and Linda's and Audrey's so my readers can get more of the details! How did it come about that you got to meet Bethany and then take her to Stockbridge? That must have been a very special trip!

    1. Hello Cathy,
      I am so glad you enjoyed my post. I , too, enjoyed yours so much. It has been wonderful reading others remembrances of the same tour and how we each have a little something different to add. A mutual friend introduced Bethany and I and we instantly became friends. Kindred spirits! She has always wanted to see Hitty so we made a date to do it--so much fun. We have some other fun things coming up I will post about:-) Thanks for visiting!

  8. How wonderful to read your post…comparing notes and realizing we had the same thoughts, emotions, impressions.
    Again, so glad to have had the opportunity of a lifetime.

    1. Christie,
      Doesn't it give you goose bumps to think maybe we are all feeling the same thing! How one woman could effect so many...


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