10 July 1998

Suffolk artist whose

charming house

is so full of history

LITTLE did I know what a treat was in store when I set out one blustery June morning to a quiet backwater in the heart of Suffolk.

Mary Nesling had invited me to join Suffolk FWC for a visit to local artist Timothy Eastons old moated manor house just along the lane from her own home.

It was good to be greeted by so many of the Essex and Suffolk members who I had seen a few weeks previously at Ely Cathedral during FWCs 50th anniversary celebrations. After a welcome cup of coffee we all wandered down the lane to be shown around Bedfield Manor House and garden.

Timothy and his wife Christine have lovingly restored the house to its former glory using traditional methods of decoration. I was particularly fascinated to see the branded initials of previous owners on the fireplace beam in the old kitchen as well as circles drawn on the ceiling of that room to protect it from witchcraft back in the 17th century. There was also a midden beside the chimney from which the Eastons had retrieved bones and historical objects.

In the main bedroom the beams were coated with red ochre paint but the walls were white and various inscriptions were still visible. In 1922 someone had written: "These are tough old days, men dont smoke their clays and they say that farming never pays." They sound familiar words.

Timothy explained many of the features of the house, giving us the history of the additions throughout the ages. Moving outside we admired the subject of many of his beautiful paintings: The garden is like a huge canvas with bursts of colour amid the carefully planned design.

We had a contribution lunch back at Marys home. Theres no doubt about it – FWC cooks could teach a lot of caterers their job!

Jean Howells