|Europe House, Westminster.|
|Anne Ballard, me, D.L. Prince (Davina) and Eleanor Livingstone (Artistic Director of StAnza.)|
|Sir Thomas Hanmer as a young man with beribboned lovelock.|
Sir Thomas Hanmer (17th c), a Royalist was exiled to France during the English Civil War, and at the end of the war, returned with tulip bulbs, and one which he developed and came to be known as 'Hanmer's Agate'. The story that struck me was that Hanmer was in correspondence with many other 'tulip fanciers' including Cromwell's second-in-command, Major-General Lambert. Hanmer sent Lambert the gift of his Agate, specifically the 'mother-root' so that Lambert could grow more. An example of how to transcend political differences after a Civil War and something that has echoes in our time, though thankfully, we have not resorted to war.
Extract from 'Hanmer's Agate':
Hanmer’s Agate: Experiments of a Tulip Fancier,
Sir Thomas Hanmer (1612-1678)
Returned from exile, he stands in a muddy field,
once his garden of formal parterres;
the trees are war-torn, storm-slashed; fireweed
rages through the grounds and the unhinged door
into the great hall; mice rampage,
bird shit weeps on the lace and lovelock
of his portrait as a young man; dung in the chapel
requisitioned for Parliamentarian horses.
Far from the Commonwealth’s courts, Sir Thomas
tends his garden, remembering the promise packed
in papery brown bulbs brought back from France
in the ship’s hold, his first wife left behind in her grave......
For full poem, read Magma Issue 70.