Oct 28th / 17
My Dear Betty;-
At last I am on leave, & enjoying an experience which will stay with me all through life. Such kindness & & sympathy & thoughtfulness, & such splendid friendliness it is all a revelation & the very memory of it all will be something to be treasured & will be an inspiration to live up to the high opinion & regard of those who have given me so unstintingly of their friendship. I arrived here from London on Wednesday evening about 7 PM I had a ten mile auto-drive from the station Ipswich through the most beautiful country & was accorded a most warm welcome by Lady Tollemache also the friends who are staying with her. ( Hon Miss Grace Tollemache daughter of Lady T, is also here Lady Lowe & Mrs Blow with her two lovely children a boy & girl, the girlie just about Billy age & the boy about three delightful children they are, & we are great chums, I go into the nursery & undress the laddie ready for his bath & then when they are in bed I will tell them the stories of the 3 Bears - Ridinghood etc, etc, like we used to tell to our own dear children - & tell them about Shirley & her moss-bag doll & Billy & his sleigh etc-etc, they are very-very interested, & their Mother (a lovely woman & the nurse enjoy it about as much as they do, needless to say I enjoy it so much, it is the next best thing to being with my own dear babies & wiffie. Mrs Blow is a neice of Lady T, & her husband is agent for the Duke of Westminster's vast estates, The Tollemache's are also connected to the Duke of Westminster, indeed they are related to some of the best & oldest families in England & Scotland. The Earl of Aberdeen is brother to Lady Tollemache, & if not related to some of the leaders of the Nation to day, they are on friendly + intimate terms with most of them - Lloyd George -Ipswich- Balfour - Churchill -Lord Derby - Sir Douglas Hayne - French Admiral Sir David Beaty & hosts of others = It seems very much of a dream that I should be here treated as an honored guests & an equal in every way. The House itself is a large - large one there must be nearly if not quite 300 rooms in it it dates from the 11th or 12th century. I will enclose a rough outline of it.
My room the Panelled Room is a dream in beauty & rich with inspiration from the storied past - it is a room reserved for the most honored guests - in it have slept some of the greatest & noblest of England during the last 700 years. And in recent years men like General Wolsely - Lord Roberts - Kitchener - Blafour - Lord Salsbury & a host of others have stayed in it - it is oak paneled right clear up to the ceiling & upon the panels hang steel engravings of the choicest literary & poetical lights of the last 1,000 years. All the furniture is centuries old (solid oak) except for the two of three modern easy chairs - The bed is a monster affair, you know the old four posters well this is massive - splendid carving, all the armoural bearings etc of the Tollemache family are carved on its ceiling & keep watch over you as you slumber or stay awake to admire beneath - the room is hung with Pink& white curtain & tapestrys, the oak paneling of course is not obscured. There is a large open fire place, in which at the present moment a large fire is blazing, & I might also add that I am writing this by the light of candles, in priceless porcelain candlesticks = Oh I cannot describe the place - I wish you could see the Great-Hall hung with old armour & spears etc, etc, & trophys of the chase, & its great open fire place. There is a moat about 30 ft wide all round the house - the moat teems with fish, & it is crossed by two draw bridges one for foot & the other for vehicles - both are lifted at night & lowered again in the Morning. The Hall or rather Castle is built in a square, & the center of course is the courtyard - The gardens, are among the finest is England or anywhere for that matter, & are some 200 years older than the Hall (about 1000 years or so)
The Hall stands in the center of a large Park thickly wooded with giant oak & elm chiefly, & a large herd of Red-Deer & Black Deer (wild) live in & there must be hundreds of them, there are several small lakes in the Park well stocked with fish. Needless to say, there are rich collections of priceless paintings etc - etc, & the great library with its rare old books needless to say is a delight to me & I spend a good deal of my time in it. There is a wonderful old church on the estate, & I had the great & unique privilege of preaching the sermon at this evenings service. Something unusual preaching in an Anglican Church, in Old England, I esteem it as a high honour. Now dear Betty I must close for now, with just a word again about the extreme kindness of these gentle & noble, truly aristocratic people. Lady Lowe belongs to a family no less distinguished than Lady Tollemache her grandfather was a governor of New-Brunswick in the early days, & her husband has held similar positions in various parts of the Empire, she herself is a most brilliant woman quite a literary genius, & is on intimate terms with all the literary leaders worth knowing both in England & elsewhere - she is a beautiful character & sweet disposition, & one of these days soon you may receive a letter from her for she asked me of she might write to you - she wants to tell you, she said what they think of me. I shall never - never forget all her kindness & the kindness of her friends as long as I live - many of our snobbish wealthy people in Canada would give a million to two, if they could have the entre into such a circle - and the people I have met over here, are just the kind who will be life long friends.
I shall be leaving next Thursday or Friday for London, & return to Bramshott on Sunday - My it will be rather hard to settle down to a soldier's life again after this = The maid comes into my room in the morning about 8 o'clock, to draw the curtains - bring my shaving & bathwater, light the fire, also a cup of tea - I go down to Breakfast at 9-15 - Lunch at 1 P.M. - Tea at 4-30 & Dinner at 8 P.M. = the intervals are spent walking with the ladies - playing with the children - reading etc-etc. It seems almost too strange good to be true, that I should be here in such an environment & I feel sometimes that I shall wake up & find it all a dream.
I really don't know what on earth I have done, to make such friends as these. Well I really must wind up dear - Kiss my babies for me I should the friends all your pictures, & they said all kinds of nice things about you & the kiddies, but especially you Hugs & Kisses & best love to you Dear, God bless & keep you ever prays
Your loving Husband