From the blog of Blindingham Hall, jointly written by Catherine Rose and me…
Blindingham Hall is the extensive country seat of Lord and Lady Effingham of Blindingham. Lord Effingham is no longer in residence, having moved to Monte Carlo some years ago with his team of nurses in order to benefit from the fresh sea air.
Ophelia, Lady Effingham, spends much of her time at Blindingham, where she indulges her many passions: among them, classical music, yoga, hothouse plants and the cultivation and education of her devoted staff.
Almost the lowliest of her staff is Rogers, the Third Under-gardener. Finding his own passion for classical music just beginning to awaken, he emboldened himself to seek a preceptress in his aristocratic yet strangely accommodating employer.
Rogers is a horny handed son of toil, and it is believed to be his horny hands that most impressed Lady Effingham when she met him in the herbaceous borders. He is a simple but thoughtful young man, often lost in contemplation whilst out on his tractor. He was a dedicated listener to Radio Suffolk’s ‘Suffolk’n’What’ until a radio malfunction caused an epiphany. He is often to be found in the orchard in Hardacre Wood, tending to his Cox’s Pippins and his tender plums.
Ophelia Effingham is the youngest of the seventeen children of Baron Tartington of Wrotham (pronounced ‘Rootem’) and his wife Doris. In such a large family she grew up with very little parental supervision, almost as a child of nature. Her passions for music, hothouse gardening and yoga were cultivated by a series of visiting tutors to their seat in Kent, all of whom are now unavailable for comment. Marriage to Lord Effingham, which came as a considerable surprise to that aged peer, gave her the stability of a palatial home and grounds in which to expand her horizons, as well as a large staff to act upon her every whim. Her staff adore her for her generosity of spirit, her unconventional manners and her perhaps contradictory insistence on maintaining aristocratic traditions such as the green baize door, afternoon tea on the lawn and the droit de seigneur.
Vauxhall the Chauffeur
Vauxhall was previously a test driver for the Formula 3 ‘Olivetti’ team, bankrolled by ‘Il Duce’ Dacorum. He was implicated in the ‘cash for sprockets’ scandal, but escaped jail, claiming that he was unable to read the contract, as it was all written in Italian. In a gesture of solidarity that crossed cultural and class divides, he personally provided the alibi for ‘Il Duce’. He somehow maintains a fleet of taxis on his meagre Blindingham salary, and the monthly arrival of brown envelopes from an Italian address is still a mystery to his employers.
Dawson the butler
Dawson has been in Lady Effingham’s service since before her birth; indeed, it is understood that he personally mopped up her mother’s waters as they broke. He is known for his ascetic lifestyle, frequenting the saunas of the town of Blindingham on a regular basis, and he helps out at the Seaman’s Mission. Lady Effingham has lost count of the number of ‘nephews’ he has, who often visit him for the weekend, or on occasions, just overnight.
Daisy the Pastry Maid
Daisy has not been with the Blindingham estate long, and could be said to be still finding her feet. She still finds them in a variety of places and has acquired an intimate knowledge of the layout of the sleeping quarters in an impressively short time. As pastry maid, she has a reputation for her sumptuous French Fancies and is now branching out into baking: her large floury baps have been praised by all who have seen them.
The Hon Jeck Effingham, often referred to ‘milady’s long-lost son Jeck’, is the sole issue of Lord and Lady Effingham (or so Lady Effingham has always maintained). Despite being heir to the estate, he has shown considerable reluctance to settle down and marry to produce future heirs. Instead, he ran away to Venezuela at the age of 17 in order to ‘find himself’ – hence the epithet ‘long-lost’. He returned at the age of 25, having become in the meantime an orchestral trombonist with an excellent embouchure and full knowledge of all seven positions. Lady Effingham, realising that Jeck takes after her in so many ways (despite his taking after her husband so very little), introduced him to the trombone section of the Royal Symphony Philharmonia Orchestra, and the rest is history.