Monday, 2 November 2009

"The Verneys"

We visited Compton Verney in July, to see a marvellous exhibition of Constable portraits, as well as the permanent collections: it's a great day out (and not too far away) - recommended for a visit any time it's open if you have never been.

Those eponymous Verneys are only distantly connected, it seems, to the family who live still at Claydon Hall in Buckinghamshire, about whom I've been reading in advance of our next book group discussion.

It was The Young Elizabethan that got me reading as a teenager - a Verney was I think its founder. And I first came across the great Murray Perahia when he played in Claydon's drawing-room nearly 40 years ago.

I've enjoyed Adrian Tinniswood's account of the 17th Century Verneys of Claydon, published by Vintage a couple of years ago, but I had better not say too much on the subject in case others in the group happen to be looking in. (I doubt it.) I am irked, however, when writers as scholarly as Mr. Tinniswood would no doubt claim to be get basic things wrong. "He rarely came up (sic!) to Claydon more than once a year," he writes about one of the clan who went into trade and latterly based himself in London. "Down" is surely not pedantic, just correct - even if it does require a footnote for American readers!

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