Wednesday, December 5, 2018

384. Moving House

Moving house for the first time since I started this blog, seems a good occasion to quote Paul Delaney on Ricketts and Shannon's relocation to Townshend House in 1922 - hoping he, and my readers, will allow me this lazy blog. 

In 1922, Shannon's career as a lithographer and painter was stagnating, while Ricketts's work as a theatre designer was admired by writers, designers, audiences, and critics alike. 

Shannon, as a result of his feeling of stagnation, latched on to the idea of moving house as a change and 'a sort of renewal of life grown into a monotony of habits'. Ricketts, as usual, took the opposite view, dreading the effort and uncertainty and confessing 'to moments of acute depression and fear of the future which is not good for anyone'. He was, he claimed, 'of a cat-like disposition, deeply attached to places, which I generally like better than people'. However, a move was necessary. Their twenty-one-year-old lease for the Lansdowne House flat was running out and Davis [the owner] had decided to sell the building.

Lansdowne House (Wikimedia Commons)
Faced with the probability of a considerable rise in rent, they decided to buy a place of their own where they and their collections would be secure for the rest of their lives, and even Ricketts looked forward 'to the excitement of recasting and remoulding our "ambience" and the satisfaction of actual ownership to put an end to a deep indwelling sense of regret'. It was not easy to find a house to accommodate them, their two studios, and their large collection, at a price they could afford: 'Palaces are cheap, not so the smaller houses', they discovered, though the sort of smaller house they were seeking would seem more like a palace today. A month was spent house-hunting, and interviewing property agents and lawyers, before 'the possible and desirable place' was found. This required an outlay which intimidated Shannon, and they rushed to see their lawyer over mortgage and cash questions with the fear that it might be snapped up by someone else.
[J.G. Paul Delaney, Charles Ricketts. A Biography. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1990, pp. 331-332.]

On May 1923 they found themselves in their new home, Townshend House, a large Edwardian villa (since demolished) near Regents Park. Not a thing in the new house worked, not a window, tap, lock, stove, or geyser, Ricketts claimed, though they had been paid for weeks and months before; the painters had bolted before finishing the job, leaving their paint pots behind - Ricketts was clearly over-reacting as usual. As soon as the stove in the dining-room was working, they made that their headquarters, as the weather was wet and wintry.
[Ibid, p. 333.]