Letter: Problems of a poet's legacy

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The Independent Online
Sir: My father's garden, the one that I and my half-sisters and half-brother all grew up in, is indeed beautiful, and none of us wanted to divide it up ('Poet's exotic garden to be split up for building', 30 June). However, to describe it as exotic is stretching the point.

There is an ordinary small black mulberry tree, but no white one. The Indian bean tree, better known as a catalpa, is lovely to look at but hardly a rarity. Incidentally, my father did not put any plaques on any walls. My mother did that after he died in 1985.

The whole family would have been delighted if there had been some way of preserving the house and garden in its entirety. Unfortunately, my parents fall into that in-between category of 'famous but not famous enough'.

We contacted numerous libraries and other institutions, both here and abroad, in an attempt to find a permanent home for my father's complete collection of books and manuscripts. No one considered it important enough, in these impecunious times, to take it in. What chance was - or is - there of some benefactor sweeping in to save the Grigson house and garden?

If the Council for the Protection of Rural England, or indeed Broad Town Parish Council, could come up with a financially viable scheme for saving the remaining portion of the garden, I would be extremely pleased. The sad thing is that nobody cared enough to do anything 10 months ago, when the house first went on the market.

There is one final point that I would like to make, both as beneficiary and co-executor of my mother's will. When my mother died, we were faced with exactly the same situation as countless other families at that time. Having inherited a moderately large, old family house, which none of us had the means to live in, we were saddled with the high cost of maintaining it, coupled with hefty tax bills.

At the same time, the housing market was sliding dramatically into decline. Like many others, we had no choice in the end but to sell at whatever price we could get, regardless of our feelings for our much-loved childhood home.

Yours faithfully,


London, N19

30 June