27 March 1998

House at the heart of an unusual family

A LARGE and well loved country house is at the heart of Anthony Scotts biography*, an account of an unusual life and an extensive and even more unusual family.

Beechmont, a gracious, if sprawling, country house in Sevenoaks, Kent, is the star of his story. The cover pictures show the property in its heyday – the late 19th century – and in 1944 when a casualty of war. These pictures echo the books title: You cant turn the clock back.

But Mr Scott does try to turn the clock back and create his own version of Beechmont, Green Mile, near Retford, Notts, into which he ploughed all his effort. Here he raised his family, farmed and grew trees – trees to grace the place and trees to sell. Then fortune turned once more and Green Mile had to be sold.

But before describing the parting he turns from writing in the first person to writing in the third, as if detaching himself from the pain and disappointment. He takes comfort from the fact that the purchaser also took pleasure in the place he had created and that "timeless nature is the real beneficiary and natures gain is his reward". AR

* You cant turn the clock back, by Anthony C M B Scott, Multon Books (01777-702422) (£8).