Sometime or another I stumbled onto a piece in the paper about an English village being put up for sale.
That’s right, an entire village due north of Southampton, between Little Down and Netherton, complete with 21 cottages, a big manor house, a cricket pitch and pavilion, 1,500 acres of farmland, 425 acres of woodland, and a church.
There’s even a pub. Now, really, how fine would that be? A cozy pub of your own with a roaring fire and some nodding old characters in cloth caps and tweed jackets clutching steins of ale and muttering things like “Here, Here!” and “Cheerio!”.
The church, by the way, isn’t part of the deal. In the article the estate agent explains that it’s owned by God and, as head of the Church of England, by Queen Elizabeth. That’s the second Queen Elizabeth by the way, though this particular church would have been owned at one time by the first one also.
I don’t know if any sort of title comes with this deal. But I doubt it. I expect the Queen has something to say about that, or I’d have to be the son of a duke or an earl. If my father, who spent all of his life – except for his WWII service in the South Pacific – in the piney woods of East Texas, was ever a duke or an earl he never mentioned it.
And I have to wonder how kindly the residents of the village would take to a Yank owning the town where some of them have spent their entire life. But selling things to America isn’t exactly a new concept for the British. They even sold London Bridge – that’s right, the one you used to sing about – to a land developer a few decades ago. That thousand year old bridge now spans a lake in a Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
Being Texan, born and bred, I guess I wouldn’t mind owning a town hereabouts, but they don’t generally have cricket pitches or ivy-covered cottages or eight-hundred-year-old churches, so if what I’m wanting in a village is something straight out of a Jane Austin novel I’ll have to cast my nest wider than Texas and relocate.
So I’ll more than likely just stay put.
Still, being the sole owner of Linkenholt, that’s the name of the place that’s for sale, would be quite the feather in one’s cap, wouldn’t you agree? After all, the closest most of us will ever come to owning a village will be having one of those little ceramic sets of snow-covered cottages and shops that gets put on display at Christmastime.
What prompted all of this daydreaming when I learned of a village in England going on the market was the idea that, as a writer, I might think up new stories to convey and better ways to tell them in that land of so many great yarn spinners. I imagine Shakespeare, Dickens, the Bronte sisters, Tennyson and Yeats each sitting in big comfy wing-backed chairs in the glow of their cottage’s fireplace scribbling their masterpieces on winter nights while smoking their pipes (the Bronte sisters probably didn’t smoke pipes, who knows?),
But I tell participants in my writing workshops that it doesn’t matter where you write, as long as you take your very best stab at it. It doesn’t stand to reason that I’d be any better at it in an English village than I am on the Texas gulf coast. A few literary critics I’ve fallen victim to would completely agree with that assessment.
So, in light of the fact that I fall far shy of having the 32 million dollar asking price for Linkenholt, I’ll just have to soldier on writing here at home, stopping every once in a while to image that’s a lush British landscape outside my study’s window, and not my front yard that probably needs mowing.