The phrase 'Unmitigated England' comes from John Betjeman's poem Great Central Railway Sheffield Victoria to Banbury. He was in turn quoting Henry James, who used the phrase to describe thatched roofs. So there can possibly be no better example of Unmitigated Englishness than this remote cottage on the Sudbourne estate in Suffolk. The hall has vanished, but all around can be seen perfect examples of the 'picturesque' cottage style, none better than this dwelling on the road from Chillesford to Orford. It's called 'Smokey House', and I've wanted to photograph it for thirty years or more, but it's either been raining, about to rain, or I've been in too much of a hurry to get into the Orford and Butley Oysterage. A truly rural idyll, windows peeping out of the great hump of thatch, runner beans and chickens supplying the shelves of a little wayside hut half tucked away in a hedge. Every time I think about it I imagine lying in bed up in the roof, the sounds of the night creeping in through the dormer window from the surrounding woods.
Derek Birdsall: Birdseye view
2 days ago