This book mixes past and present, and there are many references to the history of the 1910s apart from the world of art and gardening.
The house where everything takes place is in Yatton, Somerset. Yatton is a village and civil parish within the unitary authority of North Somerset, which falls within the county of Somerset. It is located 18 km south-west of Bristol. Its population in 2011 was 7,552.The parish includes Claverham, a small village which was originally a farming hamlet.
Ann often makes reference to William Morris as her inspiration as a textile artist. William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) was an English textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist. Associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement, he was a major contributor to the revival of traditional British textile arts and methods of production.
Hester mentions that she wants to be like Ernest Wilson travelling and collecting plants. Ernest Henry “Chinese” Wilson (15 February 1876 – 15 October 1930), better known as E. H. Wilson, was a notable English plant collector who introduced a large range of about 2000 of Asian plant species to the West; some sixty bear his name.
Hester first finds some connection with William when she attends a suffragist meeting at the Victoria rooms in Bristol. The Victoria Rooms, also known as the Vic Rooms, houses the University of Bristol‘s music department in Clifton, Bristol, England, on a prominent site at the junction of Queens Road and Whiteladies Road.
We learn through Hester’s diary entries that Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool are bombarded in 1914. The Raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby on 16 December 1914, was an attack by the Imperial German Navy on the British seaport towns of Scarborough, Hartlepool, West Hartlepool and Whitby. The attack resulted in 137 fatalities and 592 casualties, many of whom were civilians. The attack resulted in public outrage towards the German navy for an attack against civilians and against the Royal Navy for its failure to prevent the raid.
Arthur, Hester’s brother, is killed at Ypres. Ypres occupied a strategic position during the First World War because it stood in the path of Germany’s planned sweep across the rest of Belgium and into France from the north. In the First Battle of Ypres (19 October to 22 November 1914), the Allies captured the town from the Germans. Their use of poison gas for the first time on 22 April 1915 marked the beginning of the Second Battle of Ypres, which continued until 25 May 1915. They captured high ground east of the town. The first gas attack occurred against Canadian, British, and French soldiers, including both metropolitan French soldiers.
William is wounded at the Somme. The Battle of the Somme was a battle of the First World War fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the upper reaches of the River Somme in France. The battle was intended to hasten a victory for the Allies and was the largest battle of the First World War on the Western Front. More than one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history.
William is then convalescing in Sharpitor V.A Hospital in Salcombe, Devon. It is here where Hester finds him. In memory of their son, Mr and Mrs Vereker offered their new home to the Red Cross Society to be used, rent free, as a Voluntary Aid Hospital for the treatment of convalescent British and Allied Troops. Sharpitor V.A. Hospital, formally opened on 23 August 1915, was mostly run using volunteers and was supported by a constant flow of gifts, both financial and in kind, from the local community.
In 1934 Ivy is studying horticulture in a school for ladies in Wheatley, Oxon. Made famous by Beatrix Havergal who established her School of Horticulture for Ladies here from 1932 to 1971, Waterperry Gardens is now home to 8 acres of beautifully landscaped ornamental gardens.
For Phoebe’s birthday Connor makes a green man or actually a green woman for her. A Green Man is a sculpture, or other representation of a face surrounded by or made from leaves. Branches or vines may sprout from the nose, mouth, nostrils or other parts of the face and these shoots may bear flowers or fruit. Commonly used as a decorative architectural ornament, Green Men are frequently found in carvings on both secular and ecclesiastical buildings.